Recently, North Korean officials claimed North Korea had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. U.S. officials, scientists and others remain skeptical. Nonetheless, such testing could signify a renewed nuclear arms race among the nine nations known to posses nuclear weapons. Undoubtedly, such testing (or the threat of such testing), could dramatically increase tensions on the Korean
North Korea is not alone in moving to update and modernize its nuclear weapons program. It is reported that Russia will spend 140 billion dollars and the U.S. has pledged to spend upwards of 355 billion over the next 10 years to modernize their respective nuclear weapons programs.
On December 15, 2015, Sen. Markey (D) from Mass., along with eight other senators, called on President Obama to cancel plans for the development of a new nuclear air launched cruise missiles. Reportedly, the U.S. intends to build 1,000 to 1,100 of these missiles at a cost of 20-30 billion dollars. The senators pointed out that, "this new nuclear weapon does not reflect our current national security needs, is redundant with existing nuclear and conventional options, and could lead to dramatic escalation and potential devastating miscalculations with other nuclear-armed states."
These moves by nuclear armed nations reinforces the importance of the Marshall Islands lawsuit against the United States. In its suit, the Marshall Islands requests a federal court declare the United States has violated and continues to violate its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and order the United States to enter good faith and meaningful arms control negotiations with the other eight nations that currently posses nuclear weapons as called for in Article 6 of the NPT. Initially, a federal district court judge dismissed the lawsuit. In his dismissal order, the judge found, among other things, that nuclear war was remote, speculative and unlikely. Currently, the Marshall Islands' appeal of that order is pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Physician's for Social Responsibility, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and Pax Christi filed an Amicus Curiae (friend of court) Brief in the Ninth Circuit challenging the court's finding. On November 3, 2015, Veterans For Peace filed an Amicus Letter Brief
supporting the arguments of PSR/IPPNW/Pax Christi.