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NZ supporting destruction of Russian chem weapons

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

2 July 2004 Media statement

NZ supporting destruction of Russian chem weapons

New Zealand was thanked for its commitment to help in destroying Russian chemical weapons when Foreign Minister Phil Goff met his newly appointed Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Jakarta last night.

The Ministers, who are both attending the ASEAN Regional Forum, discussed the dangers of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Mr Goff said.

"Our talks highlighted the need to ensure that such weapons, and the materials from which they are constructed, never fall into the hands of terrorists.

"Minister Lavrov responded positively to the fact that New Zealand will soon be making a solid practical contribution to disarmament work in Russia.

"We are contributing $1.2 million towards the destruction of chemical weapons at Shchuch'ye, which is where the bulk of Russia's remaining chemical weapons stockpile will be destroyed.

"This is one of the most practical disarmament exercises taking place in the world today, and New Zealand feels that it is important that we demonstrate, in a material way, our support for the actions being taken by the Russian Federation. Destroying these weapons will contribute to the security of all mankind.

"Our contribution is part of the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, launched by G8 leaders in 2002.

"The partnership aims, in the first instance, to address the legacy of weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union through a range of projects aimed at securing and disposing of radioactive materials and chemical weapons; dismantling nuclear submarines, and re-employing former weapons scientists.

"A Memorandum of Understanding about New Zealand's contribution to the Shchuch'ye chemical weapons destruction project will be signed shortly in Moscow," Mr Goff said.


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