Marshall Islands Not Ready To Talk China Defense

The Washington ambassador of the tiny Marshall Islands said talks aimed at renewing agreements covering access for the U.S. military have stalled.

Critical for Indo-Pacific security and particularly for Australia, the micro-islands heightened their financial and economic demands, a requirement before their involvement in the security talks.

The Island's envoy, Gerald Zackios, told media there had been no talks on renewing its Compact of Free Association Agreement with the United States since the end of the Trump administration in 2020, in spite of the priority the Biden administration has attached to boosting Indo-Pacific engagement.

Zackios said this was because Washington had not appointed a negotiator empowered by President Joe Biden to discuss key issues beyond U.S. economic assistance, including remuneration for the legacy of massive U.S. nuclear testing on the islands, the presence U.S. military bases, and climate-change mitigation.

The compacts are due to expire in 2023 in the former two states and in 2024 in Palau.

But the Island's are the site for the radar complex and the elements of the satellite surveillance systems including nuclear launch early-warning system.

The islands must be a no-go zone for the Chinese military if the relative security of Australia's Eastern Coast and New Zealand is treated seriously, former military advisor and former high-ranking Pentagon official Dr. Lev Richards told in an interview with TheOwner.

They’ve stalled, Mr. Zackios said in reference to the Pacific republic’s negotiations with Washington. “In the case of the Marshall Islands, I would use that word.”

My view is that these negotiations are stalled until we get a presidential appointed special envoy who will have the authority to discuss key issues that are important to the Marshall Islands, the envoy stated.

Katie Porter, a Democratic representative who has taken up the issue of the Pacific islands in the U.S. Congress, wrote to Biden’s Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell in September calling for the appointment of a full-time presidential representative to manage the COFA negotiations.

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