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New Zealand boosts nuclear security fund

16 March 2003 Media Statement

New Zealand boosts nuclear security fund

New Zealand is giving an extra $20,000 to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to help countries protect their nuclear material, Disarmament Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

"All countries need to be absolutely sure that nuclear or radioactive material can’t get into the wrong hands," she said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, responsible for nuclear safeguards and inspections, also works with countries possessing nuclear and radioactive material to prevent terrorists and other criminals acquiring it.

"We do worry that such people might use radioactive material in a 'dirty bomb', designed to cause widespread fear with the threat of radiation contamination," Marian Hobbs said.

"There’s a lot of nuclear and radioactive material in the world being used for medical, energy and industrial purposes. In the wrong hands it could cause havoc."

The money increases New Zealand's total funding for the programme to $45,000 over the last year and will go towards a programme that includes improving physical security standards, combating illicit trafficking and training for detecting and responding to malicious acts involving nuclear and other radioactive material.

New Zealand is a member of the IAEA Board of Governors. The IAEA's current focus is Iraq, and it is also dealing with issues such as North Korea and Iran. New Zealand's representative on the Board will announce the contribution when it meets in Vienna this week.

ENDS

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