11. THE UNKNOWN STRUGGLE FOR A NUCLEAR FREE PACIFIC

Many Pacific islanders might wonder why it took the West so long to catch on to the nuclear issue.

Since the birth of the Atomic Age, the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and its people have endured nuclear experiences unlike those experienced anywhere else on earth.

The ocean itself has become a dumpsite for nuclear waste.

Polynesia is France's tropical paradise for nuclear testing -- 41 nuclear bombs exploded in the atmosphere between 1966 and 1975.

The Philippine Islands has its own Karen Silkwood -- Ernesto Nazareno, a construction worker at the Westinghouse nuclear reactor being built at Morong, Mataan, who disappeared in 1979.

The world's largest and most sustained nuclear disarmament movement started in Japan in 1954.

Micronesia, among the last regions in the world to be directly administered by an outside power (the United States), is an essential link in post-Vietnam U.S. military strategy in the Pacific.

To this day, Marshall Islanders suffer from radiation health problems because of exposure to many of the 66 atomic and hydrogen bombs tested at Bikini and Enewetak Atolls by the United States.

And, of course, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the first and only populated targets of atomic bombs.

Now, Tinian, a small island in Micronesia from which the U.S. launched its atomic bomb attacks on Japan, may be turned into a major U.S. Air Force base with nuclear weapons, ammunition storage, and marine amphibian training sites.

There is a "Stop the Tinian Base" protest movement but not many of us have heard about it. The news media have yet to discover the Nuclear Free Pacific Movement, a movement whose members know nuclear terror first hand.

SOURCE:

WIN, 8/1/82, "Nuclear Free Pacific," Special Issue.