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Kaitaia nuclear test monitoring station - Speech

21 July 2000 Speech Notes

Opening of the Kaitaia nuclear test monitoring station


Speech by Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Hon. Matt Robson

Contact: Josie Harbutt, Press Sec.
025 5888 60 or 04 470 6676


INTRODUCTION

Tena Koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou.

Greetings to you all on this very significant occasion.

A special welcome to our visitors from the Provisional Technical Secretariat in Vienna. New Zealand is particularly honoured to have you here to participate in the first such certification visit of its kind.

A warm welcome also to observers visiting from overseas. We hope that your stay in New Zealand is helpful as you prepare for the certification of your respective stations.

I would like to acknowledge the attendance of our Minister of Health, Annette King, who opened our station in the Chatham Islands earlier this year. The National Radiation Laboratory of the Ministry of Health has worked hard in get us to this point today.

Their commitment, in association with others, has contributed significantly to New Zealand’s CTBT effort.

KAITAIA AND THE CTBT

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has been called the “longest-sought, hardest-fought” prize in disarmament history since the atomic age began.

Today, this Kaitaia station, and shortly others, including the Chatham Islands, officially become part of this global move to eliminate the testing of nuclear weapons.

The certification of this radionuclide station here in Kaitaia is an event we have looked forward to for quite some time.

New Zealand fought hard to build support for the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty and we are proud to be at the forefront once again by being the first to host a certification visit by the PTS.

We are even more encouraged by what this certification visit signals, that is, that the global system of monitoring stations, of which the Kaitaia station is apart, is being realised and is well underway.

The data provided by these stations will be used by the head office in Vienna to detect whether any country is illegally carrying out nuclear tests.

More importantly, the effective implementation of this international monitoring system will deter cheating and clandestine nuclear tests anywhere in the world.

About one quarter of the global network of stations has been completed and much more remains to be done to ready the system for the treaty’s entry into force.

In New Zealand there are other stations to be built in the Urewera, South Island High Country, off on Raoul Island and another on the Chathams.

By working to bring this milestone treaty into force, by building upon substantial efforts already made in setting up its global monitoring system, we are moving forward the process of nuclear disarmament and bringing closer the goal of eliminating these weapons.

A DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE

I am also pleased to announce today that this government is holding discussions with the United Nations Asia Pacific Centre For Disarmament on the possibility of New Zealand hosting a disarmament conference early next year.

As many of you here will know, I have been pushing strongly for this initiative since coming into government.

Now I know that it is achievable and New Zealand can continue to lead the world in nuclear disarmament.

$450,000 was allocated in the last budget for new multilateral initiatives, some of which will be used for meeting the costs of this conference.

A formal agenda has yet to be decided, but a segment of this conference could aid further implementation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in the South Pacific.

New Zealand has a moral authority when it comes to world nuclear disarmament.

We went nuclear free in the 1980s.

Most recently New Zealand's Disarmament Ambassador, Clive Pearson chaired a subsidiary body of the Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in April which set a new global agenda for disarmament.

The 187 member countries of the NPT include the five nuclear weapon states – the US, Russian Federation, France, the UK and China.

It was an historical moment, therefore when all five agreed to new commitments to better measure their progress in disarmament, to be more open about their stockpiles and report more regularly on their weapon reduction.

This was a big step forward, and New Zealand had a strong national stamp on the successful outcome.

We were also one of the first countries to set up these sorts of monitoring stations under the CTBT.

The Kaitaia station is a bit like a global speed camera to detect tests in our region.

This conference will also be an opportunity for us to promote a nuclear weapon free Southern Hemisphere.

We already have nuclear free zones in the South Pacific, South East Asia, Latin America and Africa.

It's a case of joining forces and sending a strong message to the Northern Hemisphere to come and visit, but please - leave your weapons at the equator.


ENDS

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