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Orion To Monitor Movement Of Nuclear Fuel Ship

22 July 2002

RNZAF Sends P3 Orion To Monitor Movement Of Nuclear Fuel Ship

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion departed Whenuapai at 7:12 am this morning to monitor the passage through the Tasman Sea of vessels carrying nuclear fuel, Defence Minister Mark Burton announced today. “I anticipate that the Orion will be able to confirm the location and progress of the vessels through our area of interest by mid morning ” Mark Burton said. The aircraft is due to return to New Zealand by early this afternoon.

The vessel, Pacific Pintail, and its escort Pacific Teal, have left Japan to transport rejected plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel back to the United Kingdom.

"The Government has made clear its opposition to such shipment and as expected, as with previous shipments, the vessels seem to be staying well clear of New Zealand's 200-mile exclusive economic zone”. The Joint Force Operational Headquarters at Trentham will continue to closely monitor the progress of the vessels.

A similar approach was taken in March last year when an Orion located and photographed the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal, which were transporting MOX fuel from Europe to Japan.

"New Zealand remains strongly opposed to shipments of nuclear material through the Pacific," Mark Burton said.

Ends

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