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Time For Maturity On Nuclear Ships

Time For Maturity On Nuclear Ships

Friday 11 Jul 2003 Ken Shirley Press Releases -- Foreign Affairs & Defence

ACT New Zealand Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Spokesman Ken Shirley today urged National to adopt the Conference remit calling for the cessation of the ban on nuclear-propelled ship visits.

"I don't advocate lifting the ban on nuclear weapons, but clause 11 of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987 was implemented in a mood of chest thumping bravado. New Zealand must display more maturity," Mr Shirley said.

"Clause 11 states `Entry into the internal waters of New Zealand by any ship whose propulsion is wholly or partly dependent on nuclear power is prohibited'.

"This clause is our final obstacle to re-establishing participation in the ANZUS alliance, and to an allied status with the US. Re-establishing our ANZUS commitment would put us on equal footing with Australia in negotiating an FTA with the US. I have a Private Members Bill to remove this clause and seek the support of National and other like-minded parties.

"When last in Opposition National campaigned to remove the ban but, on becoming Government, failed to act. A special committee was established, chaired by Rt Hon Sir Edward Somers, and comprised prominent academics Profs Patricia Bergquist, David Elms and Alan Poletti. Their report, presented to Prime Minister Jim Bolger in 1992, concluded:

· `The presence in New Zealand ports of US and UK naval nuclear-propelled vessels would be safe. The likelihood of any damaging emission or discharge of radioactive material was so remote it could not give rise to any rational apprehension for the public or environment. Nor would they pose any significant risk to the national environment.

· There has never been an accident in a propulsion reactor involving a significant release of radiation in a US or UK naval vessel. Neither the public nor the environment has ever been endangered by a radiation release.

· The experience of other countries hosting visits by nuclear powered vessels of the UK & US navies has been that no release of radiation to either atmosphere or the sea have been detected by any monitoring agencies.'

"This report also revealed that, each day, Auckland hospital emits more than twice the radiation emitted in a year from the entire US fleet and support facilities. There is no environmental or health reason to continue the nonsensical nuclear propulsion ban. Lifting it would allow us to shake off the self-imposed shackles of the past two decades. I call on National to pass their remit, and to support my Bill through Parliament," Mr Shirley said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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