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Nuclear test monitoring station in Fiji


Media Release

24 September 2003

New Zealand to build nuclear test monitoring station in Fiji

Health Minister Annette King today signed a contract on behalf of the Government with the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) for the installation of a radionuclide station in Fiji.

The contract is part of the country's latest contribution to deterring the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

New Zealand's National Radiation Laboratory (NRL) will build the $1 million station at Nadi, Fiji. Once operational the station will form part of a worldwide network of 321 monitoring stations being built to help enforcement of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

NRL Director Jim Turnbull says it's pleasing for New Zealand's expertise in the field of radiation to be recognised by the global scientific community.

"It's a credit to NRL staff for their high quality work and for applying that expertise in progressing this project. It continues to enhance New Zealand's credibility in the international disarmament arena.

"NRL's involvement right from the beginning has put New Zealand at the forefront of implementing and enforcing the treaty, which is an achievement all New Zealanders can be proud of," Mr Turnbull said

"The international monitoring network is designed to verify compliance with the Treaty and to act as a deterrent by establishing a global network of facilities capable of registering shock waves emanating from a nuclear explosion underground, in the sea or in the air, as well as detecting radioactive materials released into the atmosphere.

"The Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), signed by more than 160 countries, including New Zealand, is seen as a major step towards the curtailment of nuclear weapons production, and eventual disarmament. The treaty can only be effectively implemented, however, if there is a monitoring system in place to verify that weapons' testing is in place, and if it does occur, to identify the violator.

"There are four technologies involved in the International Monitoring System (IMS); radionuclide, seismological, hydroaccoustic and infrasound. The radionuclide station to be built in Nadi will join three other radionuclide stations operated by the NRL in New Zealand and the Cook Islands. The NRL is also in the final stages of completing the installation of an infrasound station on Chatham Island. Once operative, the Fiji station will be part of a global network of radionuclide stations that will ultimately be eighty in number," Mr Turnbull said.

"The National Radiation Laboratory, a business unit of the Ministry of Health, has operated a comprehensive radioactivity monitoring programme since 1957.

ENDS

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