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Responding To Chemical And Biological Terrorism

The New Zealand Defence Force is to establish a unit to respond to chemical and biological terrorism, Defence Minister Mark Burton announced today.

"The Defence Force already maintains bomb disposal squads to deal with any conventional threat from terrorists," Mark Burton said.

"However, no New Zealand agency currently has a dedicated team to identify and render safe chemical or biological devices or threats.

"The government has therefore decided to establish a Chemical and Biological Terrorism Response capability based in Wellington, which can link up with the existing bomb disposal squads as and when required.

"Additional capital funding of $1.84 million has been added to the defence budget to allow for the purchase of the equipment needed for chemical and biological detection. Additional annual funding of $185,000 per annum has been provided to maintain the capability.

"The New Zealand Defence Force will now source and procure the necessary equipment, train personnel and establish appropriate response procedures with the Police and other emergency agencies.

"In the longer term, dealing with chemical and biological threats will become part of the standard training for all defence force personnel.

"As a consequence of the terror attacks in the United States, the government has recognised the need for a heightened state of domestic security in New Zealand against the possibility of further terrorist activities.

"The establishment of a response capability within the New Zealand Defence Force to deal with any chemical or biological incidents is an important part of this enhanced security," Mark Burton said.

Ends

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