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NZ to help dismantle Russian nuclear submarines

Hon Phil Goff
Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control

14 November 2007

NZ to help Japan dismantle Russian nuclear submarines

New Zealand will help fund a Japan-led project to dismantle decommissioned nuclear submarines in the Russian Far East, Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Phil Goff announced today.

“New Zealand values this opportunity to support Japan in ensuring that the deteriorating submarines no longer pose a danger to international security and to the environment,” Mr Goff said.

“Dozens of these submarines remain in existence today, and about half of these still have nuclear fuel on board. Due to poor maintenance and inadequate protection, the large quantities of highly radioactive materials within each submarine offer a target for theft or sabotage.”

New Zealand’s funding of around $680,000 will be used towards the handling and processing of radioactive wastes that result from the de-fuelling and dismantlement of a nuclear submarine, Mr Goff said.

“This is a key step in the dismantlement process.

“New Zealand’s funding will go towards dismantling a submarine in Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific coast under Japan's 'Star of Hope' programme.

"Cooperation on this project demonstrates our shared commitment with Japan with respect to disarmament and non proliferation. It is a tangible example of working together to safeguard security in the Pacific region,” Mr Goff said.

New Zealand’s contribution is part of the G8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, which was launched in 2002. Dismantlement of old nuclear submarines was identified as one of the priorities of the G8 Global Partnership.

“As a contributor to the G8 Global Partnership, New Zealand has previously worked with the United Kingdom on the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles in Russia.

“Last year we co-operated with a United States project working to shut down the last plutonium-producing nuclear reactor in Russia, in Zheleznogorsk. We worked with the US again earlier this year on a project in the Ukraine on improving detection capability for smuggled nuclear and radioactive materials at the Russian border.

“Including the submarines project, New Zealand has contributed over $3.7 million to the G8 Global Partnership programme.”

ENDS

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