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    Marshall Islands victims of U.S. nuclear tests awarded $1bln

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    Marshall Islands-based Nuclear Claims Tribunal has ruled that the Rongelap Islanders, affected by radioactive fallout from U.S. nuclear tests, receive $1 billion in compensation, the Radio New Zealand said Wednesday.

    JAKARTA, April 18 (RIA Novosti) - Marshall Islands-based Nuclear Claims Tribunal has ruled that the Rongelap Islanders, affected by radioactive fallout from U.S. nuclear tests, receive $1 billion in compensation, the Radio New Zealand said Wednesday.

    The $1 billion ruling comes 15 years after local authorities filed a claim with the tribunal following the United States test of the Bravo hydrogen bomb at Bikini Island in 1954, which was a 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped by America on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August, 1945.

    But it seems that Rongelap Islanders, who were exposed to high-levels of nuclear fallout, will not receive a single penny from the $1 billion sum as the tribunal has practically no money to make payments.

    An official for the tribunal, which had been paying annual personal injury claims to islanders since 1991, told Radio New Zealand that the compensation trust fund, financed by the United States, has been slashed from an original sum of $150 million in 1986 to the current total of $1 million, which is expected to be spent on the tribunal's administrative needs for the next year.

    James Matayoshi, the mayor of Rongelap, said the islanders now intend to file an appeal against the U.S. administration with the United States Court of Federal Claims to seek enforcement of tribunal's $1 billion award.

    Within the framework of the 1986 agreement, which has already expired, the United States paid $250 million in compensation, for cleaning up contaminated land and water as well as for the damaged health of locals, and now considers the issue as completely resolved.

    The Radio New Zealand added that locals feel that the United States is trying to wash its hands of the problem.

    Marshall Islanders said they asked the United States only for a few billions of dollars to provide medical care and to compensate people for their suffering, while the U.S. refuses them, and at the same time pours over $5 billion monthly into a military campaign in Iraq, a country that has never supported the United States unlike Marshall Islands.

    Marshall Islands, a tiny government in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean, was the U.S. nuclear testing range between 1946 and 1958, with a total of 67 nuclear and hydrogen bomb tests.

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