ODA files, lot 62 D 225, “Trust Territory of Pacific Islands”
Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs (Gerig)
Draft for Secretary’s Press Conference, Tuesday, May 11
- Marshall Islanders Petition.
The Department has been informed, confidentially from the United Nations Secretariat, that a petition has been received by the United [Page 1488] Nations signed by 111 Marshall Islanders, who have complained regarding the explosion of H-bombs within their territory and have alleged that a number of their people were affected. They urge that these experiments be stopped or, if this is not possible, that certain safeguards be provided. The petition is in restrained and sympathetic terms, but will doubtless create considerable reaction when it is circulated to the United Nations Members, possibly day after tomorrow, May 12.
It is recommended that if a reporter should have obtained knowledge of the existence of this petition before tomorrow and raises a question, you might wish to reply along the following lines:
The Department has no official knowledge of any such petition but if such a petition has been received and when it is brought to the attention of this Government, we will naturally give it serious consideration.
For your information, the Department is preparing a statement in sympathetic terms to be made by Ambassador Lodge when the petition is released to the United Nations Members. It has been drafted in cooperation with the Atomic Energy Commission and the Departments of Defense and Interior.