Nuclear-Free Future

in the Category


is presented to



Washington DC,
28 Oktober 2015

Tony de Brum

At age nine, Tony de Brum witnessed the greatest-ever hellfire ignited by the USA, the Castle Bravo Bomb, a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb and detonated in 1954. “It was in the morning and I was fishing with my grandfather. He was throwing the net and suddenly the silent bright flash – and then a force, the shock wave. Everything turned red – the ocean, the fish, the sky, and my grandfather’s net. And we were 200 miles away from ground zero. A memory that can never be erased.”


The US considered the 867 Micronesian islands scattered over 180 square kilometers a test area. For twelve years, beginning in 1946, the United States tested a total of 67 atom and hydrogen bombs in the atmosphere and under water. It was then that the Bikini atoll became synonymous with horror and fear.


Senator De Brum, today Foreign Secretary of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, spent the better part of his professional life fighting for clean-up and damages for radiation victims in the Marshall Islands, focusing on the cause as much as on the effects. The core of the matter is nuclear power, a precondition for most of today’s arsenals of nuclear weapons.


Recently, he brought suit in the International Court of Justice on behalf of the Marshall Islands, but with the moral support of countless people, against the signatory powers of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPF), charging them with inaction in spite of numerous declarations of intent to reduce the number of nuclear weapons. In a United Nations plenary session the man from the islands declared on April 27, 2015: “The serious shortfalls in the NTP’s implementation are not only legal gaps but also a failure to address the incontrovertible human rights.” De Brum also cautions us against treacherous feelings of safety: “While it is true that the number of nuclear weapons worldwide has slowly diminished no one can seriously claim that sixteen thousand warheads mark the threshold of global security. We are witnesses as nuclear nations modernize and expand their arsenals. .. There can be no right of ‚unlimited possession‘.“


For many years, banning all nuclear weapons and fighting global warming have been the focus of de Brum’s activity. He likes to use local earth and water colors when illustrating the effects of global warming on vast coastal an island regions. The islanders, who in the past had to abandon irradiated parts of their homelands, will soon have to leave low-lying parts threatened by the rising sea-level. The Marshall Islands are facing extinction. The population is expelled in two stages: first, they had to escape death by radiation, now they’ll have to escape death by drowning. Both catastrophes are manmade.


Over the years, Tony de Brum has become an anchor man for people all over the world who fight the nuclear complex and submersion of lowlying coasts and islands. He became a public figure because he knows how to publicize the lethal consequence of human action and inaction. When the overkill of horror – death by radiation and / or drowning – threatens to make us speechless, we need people who will speak up. We need many de Brums.