Since the 1960's Marshall Islands, a nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, has been the testing ground for U.S. nuclear missiles. On Tuesday a deal was signed that extends the use of the US defense base for 50 more years.
For eight years a deal between Marshall Islands and the United States has been at an impasse. Once the ink is dried on the deal the landowners of the tiny nation will be financial winners with the release of 32 million US dollars. The new deal extends the use of the Reagan Test Site until 2066.
The new deal offers hope to Islanders living on the island Ebeye, locally termed 'the slum of the Pacific', whose infrastructure is in sad shape. The island's sewage, water and waste management infrastructure are said to either not working or on the verge of collapse. Bangkok Post reports:
"Where we are at today is a compromise which we've agreed upon to safeguard our future," said Kwajalein landowner and senator Christopher Loeak.
Testing on the Island has been ongoing with the last test just last month when a trial intermediate-range ballistic missile was launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Testing since President Obama took office has focused on protecting US allies and deployed forces from shorter-ranging ballistics reports The Register.
"Initial indications are that all components performed as designed," the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said in a statement, which described it as "the most challenging test to date" of the Aegis BMD system.
During the Bush years missile testing focused on full-fat intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with worldwide range.
A concern that is rarely voiced is that the population could be paying a heavy price for the testing. According to Wikipedia islanders have seen an increase in birth defects and cancer.