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Helen Clark Misrepresents Nuclear Situation

Monday 18 Mar 2002

Prime Minister Helen Clark is seriously misrepresenting the United States position at a critical time in US-NZ relations, ACT Defence Spokesman MP Owen Jennings said today.

"Helen Clark is adopting a `no more nukes' stance. President George Bush's father took nuclear weapons off the US naval ships.

"By pretending that US ships still have nuclear weapons, Ms Clark is engaged in a petty ideological game. This is the same sort of game she played over whether we have SAS troops in Afghanistan.

"In reality the United States is extending a hand of friendship to New Zealand. This is a historic opportunity for us to restore the ANZUS arrangement to a full Allied level.

"Helen Clark could demonstrate strong leadership on behalf of New Zealand's interests - both defence and trade - by accepting the United States offer. Instead she is pandering to a minority view. She is prepared to sell out the country's needs in favour of the few remaining anti-American ideologues.

"There is a possibility that a nuclear-powered ship may visit New Zealand at some time. The Government's own report found that such a ship is extraordinarily safe and offers no hazard. In comparison, Helen Clark's comments about a potential terrorist attack are absurd and are a deliberate attempt to divert attention from reality.

"This issue could have - and should have - been dealt with by National, but in Government that party failed to grasp the opportunity.

"ACT New Zealand is prepared to say what other political parties ought to be prepared to say: we welcome the opportunity to be both nuclear-weapons free, and be a full and honourable participant in ANZUS," Mr Jennings said.

Ends


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