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NZ opposes return of nuclear fuel shipment

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement
13 July 2000

New Zealand opposes return of rejected nuclear fuel shipment

New Zealand remains firmly opposed to all shipments through its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of nuclear materials, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

He was responding to reports that the United Kingdom and Japan had reached agreement on the fate of a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel shipment that Japan had rejected on arrival last year. It is understood the UK will now accept the return of the fuel.

“The Government has made it clear to both Japan and the United Kingdom that are opposed to all such shipments and we want them to stay away from New Zealand.

"We accept that the risk of an accident is low, but the consequences of any accident would be immense.

"If there must be shipments, we expect prior warning. We expect that the shipment should remain outside our EEZ. To date this has been the case.

"The transport of such a hazardous substance raises the risk to our country. We believe that the transport states should accept liability and responsibility to pay compensation for any accidents.

Mr Goff said he had made his views on this clear to Japanese Foreign Minister Kono when they met in April and to UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in May and will continue to do so.

"Our information is that the nuclear shipment would be unlikely to depart Japan on its return voyage to the UK for two or three years.

"In the meantime New Zealand will look to lift the profile of its concerns at the next annual general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in September."

Mr Goff reiterated his comments to Parliament on 6 July that the Government would not pass legislation promoted by the Greens that would have nuclear shipments banned from entering New Zealand’s EEZ because to do so would conflict with New Zealand’s international legal obligations.


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