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A new era in disarmament begins in the Chathams

Hon Matt Robson
Minister of Corrections, Minister for Courts
Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

News release

A new era in disarmament begins in the Chathams

7th March 2000 Embargoed until 4pm

"Today the Chatham Islands became part of a new global move to eliminate nuclear weapons from the world. Once again, we are in the forefront of the disarmament movement," Minister of Disarmament, Matt Robson says.

The Chatham Islands nuclear monitoring station was officially opened by the Minister of Health and MP for Rongotai Annette King, who also spoke on behalf of Matt Robson. He was unable to make the re-scheduled opening after weather cancelled yesterday's opening.

The Chatham Island station, along with other stations across the world will measure air samples for the presence of radioactive material to detect if any country is illegally carrying out nuclear tests The data will then be sent to a head office in Vienna. The global stations have been set up as part of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT).

"The CTBT has been called the "longest-sought, hardest-fought" prize in disarmament history since the atomic age began. It bans all nuclear explosions whether under water, underground or in the atmosphere," Matt Robson says

"New Zealand fought hard to build support for this Treaty. That is why I am particularly proud that this station has opened today. Once again the South is making it clear that we don't want nuclear weapons in our back-yard.

"Any country that attempts to cheat by testing in our region, despite the ban will be monitored by this station.

"Unfortunately there are big nuclear countries that have not ratified the CTBT Treaty. Disarmament talks have reached a dangerous stalemate. I will be travelling to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva where I will lobby countries like the US, Russia and China to join us.

"I will also go to the CTBT head office in Vienna where the data from the Chathams will be sent and analysed.

"The Chatham Island station has already gained an international reputation because it, more than any other represents the truly global nature of this network.

"Deep in the South Pacific a community like the Chathams has decided to help police our region and keep it truly nuclear free," said Matt Robson


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