Officials argue that Washington has the authority to block enemy navies from an area ‘nearly as large as the continental United States.’

by Edward Hunt, Responsible Statecraft

In defiance of international norms and rules, U.S. officials are laying claim to the large oceanic area in the central Pacific Ocean that is home to the compact states.

Now that they are renewing the economic provisions of the compacts of free association with Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia, U.S. officials are insisting that the compacts provide the United States with exclusive control over an area of the central Pacific Ocean that is comparable in size to the United States.

“We control essentially the northern half of the Pacific between Hawaii and Philippines,” U.S. special envoy Joseph Yun told Congress in July.

us and marshall islands flags together

For decades, the United States has overseen compacts of free association with Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. Under the compacts, the United States provides the three countries with economic assistance while it maintains powerful military controls over the islands and their waters.

One of these military controls, “the defense veto,” enables the United States to prevent the compact states from forging international agreements that could impede U.S. military priorities. Consequently, the compact states have never joined the Treaty of Rarotonga, which established a nuclear free zone in the region.

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