"I've known Tony long time," he said. "We both have had a strong interest for a long time in seeing action by the nuclear weapons states."
Frustration with the nuclear-armed states has grown in recent years as action toward disarmament appeared to stall, Burroughs and Krieger said.
"One thing I would point to is the U.S. withdrawal in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; that cast a shadow over future disarmament movement," Krieger said. The treaty originally had bound the U.S. and the Soviet Union. "One other thing, in 1995, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty had a review and was extended indefinitely. I think the nuclear states party to the treaty felt that once that happened, there was no longer pressure on them to fulfill their obligations."
In 1996, the International Court of Justice said unanimously that an obligation existed to bring the disarmament negotiations to a conclusion, Burroughs said.
Instead, "progress toward disarmament has essentially been stalemated since then," he said.
Some of the nuclear-armed countries might argue in response to these new lawsuits that they've been making progress in certain areas or that they support the start of negotiations toward disarmament, but the Marshall Islands government is likely to say, "Good, but not enough" or "Your actions belie your words," Burroughs said.
The Marshall Islands foreign minister has approached other countries about filing suit as well, Krieger said. "I think there has been some interest, but I'm not sure anybody is ready."
Associated Press reporters Daniel Estrin and Toby Sterling contributed to this report from Jerusalem and Amsterdam.