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International leadership needed on nuke shipments

13 July 2000
International leadership needed on nuclear shipments

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said she was looking for international leadership from the Government in light of strong comments from Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff opposing nuclear shipments through New Zealand's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Upon hearing news that another load of nuclear fuel is to be shipped back to Britain through the Pacific, Ms Fitzsimons said she was hoping the Government would take a very strong line internationally on the issue of shipments of nuclear material.

"What we have here are extremely hazardous nuclear fuels and wastes circum-navigating the world, putting many oceans and people at totally unacceptable risk, just looking for a place to land," said Ms Fitzsimons. "The bottom line is that nobody wants this nuclear waste on their land or on their waters."

Under international law New Zealand is obliged to allow 'innocent passage' of ships through our exclusive economic zone.

Ms Fitzsimons said she would ideally like to see Mr Goff attempt to clarify the International Law of the Sea and argue internationally that the most hazardous substance on earth should not be covered by 'innocent passage'.

"Currently the International Law of the Sea is an anomaly in this area and our Government could protect not only our own people and waters, but those of the rest of the world through having these deadly shipments stopped, as they should be," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Ms Fitzsimons said although the risk of a nuclear accident was low, the implications for New Zealand of a nuclear accident in the Pacific defied imagination.

Ms Fitzsimons currently has her Nuclear-free Extension Zone Bill, which seeks to outlaw nuclear shipments entering our exclusive economic zone, before a select committee.

"I hope my bill will raise the profile of the debate surrounding the to-ing and fro-ing of nuclear waste around the world. The Greens would love to support this Government again becoming world leaders and arguing for sensible international law that protects the people of the world, and the whole planet, from nuclear accident."

Ms Fitzsimons said she was sure any international initiatives by our Government to have this trafficking stopped would have massive public support around the world.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 021 110 1133

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