An incident in the course of the shipment of radioactive material could have serious consequences for affected states, whether or not a release of radiation actually resulted from the incident. In particular, small island states could potentially suffer serious damage to their reputations and to their economies. Pacific Island states are taking an initiative in response to their exposure to this risk. Assurances that they will not be left unsupported in such circumstances are being sought through a process of direct discussions presently taking place with source states and operators involved in the shipment of radioactive material through the Pacific. This article examines the legal background to these discussions, investigating the legal uncertainties in the situation of states affected by an incident in the course of shipment of radioactive material that arise from limitations in the nuclear civil liability conventions and other aspects of applicable international law.
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