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New Zealand praised by overseas disarmament leader

"The head of the Vienna-based nuclear test ban organisation whom I met with today, praised New Zealand's nuclear disarmament position and showed interest in our initiatives to shift the stalled debate internationally," Minister of Disarmament Matt Robson says.

Dr. Wolfgang Hoffmann is the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty organisation (CTBT). He arrived in New Zealand last night and met with Matt Robson this morning.

"He is particularly impressed with our willingness to get nuclear test monitoring stations up and running with the best state of the art technology, like the station recently opened in the Chathams.

More monitoring stations are planned in New Zealand. Each will form a part of a global network designed to pick up any sign of a nuclear explosion.

"New Zealand has played a big role in disarmament. The CTBT initiative of which I am the head, is one of the success stories in disarmament, and New Zealand is a part of that success," says Dr. Hoffmann.

"Unfortunately there have not been enough successes. New Zealand, as a very credible country in this debate can do its bit to help shift the talks internationally," he said.

United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who recently visited New Zealand warned that a new nuclear arms race 'looms on the horizon'. 'The United States, Russia and China have not yet ratified the CTBT Treaty, talks between Russia and the US on non-proliferation have come unstuck, and countries like India and Pakistan have joined the nuclear race.

"I also informed Dr. Hoffmann about my proposal for a nuclear weapon free Southern Hemisphere, and I will continue those discussion with other officials while in Vienna next week," says Matt Robson.

"I will be attending the Geneva Conference on Disarmament where I will raise this proposal with our New Agenda colleagues, who like New Zealand are working to shift the disarmament stalemate.

"I will be sounding them out about the possibility of New Zealand hosting a disarmament conference in the near future. Time is of the essence."

ends

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