ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday won a case at the International Court of Justice against its nuclear programme.

The ICJ ruled in favour of Pakistan's stance that its nuclear programme was a matter of its national defence and security, which fell exclusively within its domestic jurisdiction.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said the case was brought to the court by the Republic of Marshall Islands, regarding ‘Obligations concerning Negotiations Relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament.’

The statement said RMI had filed suits at the International Court of Justice against all the nine states possessing nuclear weapons, and Pakistan, India and the United Kingdom had been asked to respond to suits since these countries recognised the jurisdiction of the court for certain specific issues.

In its comprehensive response, Pakistan had sought dismissal of the suit for lack of the court's jurisdiction to entertain the claims and the inadmissibility of its application, said the statement.

Moreover, there was no dispute, let alone a legal dispute, that existed between the RMI and Pakistan, it added.

The Republic of Marshall Islands’ – the tiny Pacific island nation - had originally brought in cases against all nine nations that are believed to have nuclear weapons - the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

However, only the cases against the three countries reached the next level proceedings as the other powers do not recognize the United Nations’ highest court’s jurisdiction on the matter.

The court president Ronny Abraham said that there was no proof of a legal dispute between the nuclear powers and Marshall Islands and that there had been no attempt at bilateral negotiations on the issue.

He ruled that “consequently the court lacks jurisdiction” and “cannot proceed to the merits of the case.”

The small country has a particular interest in nuclear disarmament as it has seen the horrors of the nukes up close.

 When it was under US administration, the Marshall Islands served as Ground Zero for 67 American nuclear weapons tests between 1946 and 1958 - at the Bikini and Enewetak Atoll. The 1954 “Bravo” hydrogen bomb that has been considered the most powerful one ever detonated by the US, was about 1,000 times bigger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Following this, a large number of natives were forced to evacuate their ancestral lands and resettle elsewhere. Thousands more were exposed to radioactive material.

“Several islands in my country were vapourised and others are estimated to remain uninhabitable for thousands of years,” Tony deBrum, a former Marshall Islands Foreign Minister, was quoted as saying at an ICJ hearing earlier this year.

“The entire sky turned blood red. Many died, or suffered birth defects never before seen and cancers as a result of contamination,” said deBrum, who watched one of the nuclear tests as a 9-year-old boy.

He launched the ICJ action in 2014 with cooperation from the California-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. In January, he was nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced tomorrow (October 7).

Islamabad irked over

overturning of Obama veto on JASTA

Pakistan expressed concerns over the overturning of President Barrack Obama’s veto on the ‘Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act’ - a law passed by US Congress aimed at targeting sovereign states.

Many countries across Europe and in the Middle East also expressed similar concern over JASTA. A foreign ministry statement said Pakistan had noted with concern the overturning of the US Presidential veto on JASTA.

“Pakistan had earlier also expressed anguish over the adoption of a domestic legislation with extra-territorial application,” said the statement.

In fact, it said, in his address to the 71st UNGA Session, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had underscored that terrorism was a global phenomenon, which must be addressed comprehensively in all its forms, and that the international community must coordinate its efforts to accomplish this.

Sharif had emphasized that these efforts should be taken collectively and not unilaterally by the passage of any laws with extra-territorial application, targeted against certain countries.

Earlier, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan adhered to the policy of non-interference in other countries' affairs.

Addressing a seminar in Brussels, he said national security is the fundamental pillar of Pakistan's foreign policy. He said the ground realities in Pakistan had considerably changed as a result of clear and effective strategy.

Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan’s position in the region had been further stabilised because of strengthening ties with China and improving relationship with Russia.