Lesson Plans

Nuclear Testing on the Marshall Islands

Essential Questions:

When a country has done something that negatively impacts another country, what is the right way to respond? What is one country's responsibility to another country?

Discussion Questions:

As you watch the video, consider and be prepared to discuss the following questions:

  1. Why do you think the U.S. used the Marshall Islands to test our weapons?
  2. What have been the impacts of nuclear testing on the Marshall Islands?
  3. Does the U.S. owe the Marshall Islands any more reparations, or has the U.S. paid enough?
  4. How would the response be different if it had been another country that was responsible for the nuclear tests?
Educator Notes: 

In this video, Dan Zak talks about the US nuclear tests on the Marshall Islands. Some key points from the video are:

  • The Marshall Islands were "gifted" to the US by Japan as part of a peace treaty after WWII.
  • From 1946-1958 the US tested nuclear weapons on the Marshall Islands adding up to the equivalent of setting off 1.5 Hiroshima bombs every day for those twelve years.
  • The largest test was called the Castle Bravo test, which led to the contamination of many Marshallese citizens and Atolls which are still unusable to this day.
  • The tests have led to the Marshallese people developing various cancers that had never been diagnosed before the tests began.
  • The US has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in reparations with Sector Grants, but the Marshallese do not feel it is enough, especially with the aid's expiration date quickly coming.
  • A Nuclear Claims Tribunal has said that the damage done by the US's testing cost the Marshallese 2.3 billion dollars on top of what the US has already paid.
  • The Marshallese has sued the US to try and get them to pay more money, but the case was dismissed in a US court and the US does not feel that any international court has jurisdiction over this case.
  • The Marshallese People still have a feeling that they are owed something, and that the problem may never be resolved.

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