ODA files, lot 62 D 225, “Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands”

Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs (Gerig) to the Assistant Legal Adviser for United Nations Affairs (Meeker)

official use only
  • Subject:
  • Legal Questions re Reference of Marshall Islands Nuclear Tests to ICJ

In preparation for colonial policy talks with the representatives of the United Kingdom, UND would appreciate having legal opinion on the following questions which have arisen as a result of the Indian proposal refer to the ICJ the question of the legality of U.S. testing of nuclear weapons in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands:

Is there any legal basis for the view that an Indian proposal to place on the agenda of the Ninth General Assembly an item whereby the GA would request an advisory opinion of the ICJ on the legality of U.S. nuclear weapons tests in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands raises a question that is not within the competence of the GA and should therefore not be placed on its agenda? In other words would there be a legal basis for an effort to keep such an Indian proposal off the Assembly’s agenda?
What effect would seizing the Security Council of such a proposal have on the consideration of this item by the General Assembly?
How sound is the United States position that it is acting in conformity with the terms of the Trusteeship Agreement and the Charter in conducting the nuclear tests in the Trust Territory?
What type of majority vote would be required in the General Assembly to defeat a proposal to refer to the ICJ the legality of conducting such tests in the Territory, a simple or a two-thirds majority?

In light of the fact that the talks with the British are to be held on, Monday, July 26, it would be greatly appreciated if you could give early consideration to these questions.1

  1. For documentation on the colonial talks with the British on July 26, see pp. 1395 ff.