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National Releases Notes On Nuclear Policy

National Puts Notes Regarding Nuclear Policy In Public Arena

National Party Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee

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Today National Party Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee released the notes held by Dr Lockwood Smith in relation to an informal meeting Dr Smith had with US Senators 18 months ago.

Dr Smith and National Party leader Dr Brash were in the United States meeting with a United States Congressional Delegation at the time the notes were taken. The details of the meeting were transcribed by an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and cabled back to Wellington.

According to the diplomatic cables, New Zealand's nuclear free policy was discussed and Dr Smith at one point inquired if it would be worthwhile for a US think-tank to assist with a campaign in New Zealand following the National Party's latest study on the topic. Later that year former National Party Deputy leader Wyatt Creech, released a study examining the relationship between New Zealand and the United States and in particular the effect of New Zealand's anti nuclear legislation on that relationship.

Dr Smith earlier today put out a statement in which he considered "the junior ministry official who took notes misunderstood the discussion. "

Dr Smith has also informed various media outlets that he did not know there was a ministry official present during his meeting with the congressional delegation and nor did he know the name and status of the official.

Dr Brash yesterday told the NZ Herald he was "neither confirming nor denying," the statements Dr Smith was alleged to have made. At the same meeting as Dr Smith allegedly requested US assistance to help New Zealanders understand the United States position on nuclear warship visits, Dr Brash supposedly said that New Zealand's nuclear legislation would be "gone by lunchtime" should National be in power. Dr Brash last year explained he could not recall ever using this particular phrase.

Mr Brownlee considered in his press release accompanying the release of the MFAT notes that "the National Party has nothing to hide on this issue. At the time of the meeting we were in the middle of a thorough review of the relationship with the US."

Mr Brownlee further explained that under National there would be "no change to the nuclear free legislation without a referendum and we have no plan for a referendum".

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Page One

Note: What follows was released in full by the National Party this afternoon, pictures of the relevant documents follow this transcription.

Sccop Transcript: Extracts from MFAT reporting cable on visit by US Congressional Delegation

Meeting with Dr Don Brash (Leader of the National Party) and Dr Lockwood Smith (Shadow Foreign and Trade Minister) Saturday 10 January 2004

Following introductory remarks, Dr Brash explained his political history and philosophy and introduced Dr Smith.
…….

Dr Smith explained the current study being done by the National Party. If the study came to the same conclusion as it did in 1992, then national would look at the nuclear legislation
……

Dr Smith asked if getting rid of the nuclear propulsion issue would guarantee an FTA with the US?
……
Dr Smith asked whether it would be worthwhile for a US think tank to assist with the public campaign in New Zealand following the national party study review?
……..
Dr Smith noted that he is regularly in the US and met with Kelly, Armitage and Ives to discuss these issues and he hoped that he is able to count on the Senators for further discussions in the future. Nickles replied he was retiring but he was sure that his colleagues would be happy to meet him again in the future.

Page 2

MEETING BETWEEN US CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ('CODEL NICKLES') AND DR DON BRASH AND DR LOCKWOOD SMITH

The following is a summary account of the meeting (held on 10 January 2004) between Dr Brash and Dr Smith and US CODEL Nickles during the latter's visit to New Zealand. It is drawn from the Ministry's cabled report on that visit. It omits those commits made during the meeting By Dr Smith, which have already been conveyed to him.

Following introductory comments the CODEL discussed with Drs Brash and Smith the US fiscal situation (including as it related to the war in Iraq, the exchange rate and the responsibilities of the Senate Budget Committee).

Senator Smith Spoke about his affection for New Zealand. He referred to the Prime Minister's comments the previous year concerning the Iraq war. He referred to the role that the nuclear issue played in the bilateral relationship, and there was an ensuing discussion of this matter which traversed the National Party's approach and possible solutions. The CODEL noted that this was an internal matter for NZ>

Senator Nickles expressed his support for a Working Holiday Scheme.

He noted that the CODEL was made up of Senators with a wide range of committee responsibilities of relevance to NZ should negotiation of an FTA commence.

He expressed appreciation for NZ's contribution to Operation enduring Freedom and said he was impressed by our work in the South Pacific.

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