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By Rick Wayman and Jackie Cabasso
India presented oral arguments today at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the nuclear disarmament case brought by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). India has challenged the jurisdiction of the ICJ to hear this case, and has also claimed that the case is inadmissible. The current issue to be determined by the Court is whether jurisdiction is valid and whether it should hear the case on the merits.
Nevertheless, India’s Co-Agent, Amandeep Singh Gill, presented many arguments about the merits of the case. Mr. Gill – and other members of India’s legal team – repeatedly insisted that India, alone among the nuclear-armed states, is fully committed to global nuclear disarmament. Only India, they said, co-sponsors the annual UN General Assembly resolution, “Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons.” In 1996, the ICJ found unanimously that “[t]here exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”
Reciting a long list of India’s public statements since 1964 and votes on disarmament resolutions in the UN General Assembly, India argued it is fully aligned with the Marshall Islands on the need for disarmament. India’s Co-Agent claimed, “Among the nuclear weapons states, India’s nuclear programme is unique in being technology driven rather than weapons driven.”
In a stunning case of “Rhetoric vs. Reality,” media reports say that the Indian military test-fired its nuclear-capable K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile on Monday, the same day that the oral arguments in the Marshall Islands vs. India case began. In addition, according to a 2015 report by Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris, India is developing several long-range ballistic missiles and continues to deploy fighter-bomber aircraft.
Oral arguments in the case against India will conclude next week with a 90-minute presentation by the Marshall Islands on Monday and a final 90-minute presentation from India on Wednesday.
Hearings at the ICJ continue tomorrow from 3:00-6:00 pm CET with the Marshall Islands arguing against the United Kingdom. The proceedings will be live-streamed at www.icj-cij.org.
Rick Wayman is Director of Programs at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Jackie Cabasso is Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation. They are tweeting about the ICJ hearings at @rickwayman and @jackiecabasso.