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NZ to host interntl counter-proliferation exercise

Hon Nanaia Mahuta
Minister of Customs

13 May 2008 Media Statement

New Zealand to host international counter-proliferation exercise

New Zealand's ability to deal with shipments concealing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) will be put to the test in a major international exercise hosted in Auckland in mid-September, Customs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.

"Exercise Maru will test our ability to halt shipments containing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, their delivery systems or dual-use goods (goods that can be used to make such weapons) as they cross New Zealand's borders and will also test our post-seizure procedures," Nanaia Mahuta said.

The exercise will take place in the Hauraki Gulf and the Port of Auckland between 15-19 September and forms part of New Zealand’s commitment to the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

The PSI is an international counter-proliferation initiative that aims to prevent weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials ending up in the wrong hands.

“This month marks the fifth anniversary of the PSI and we've chosen to use this milestone to announce Exercise Maru,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

“New Zealand has been a strong and active supporter of the PSI. Our participation in PSI helps deter would-be traffickers from targeting New Zealand and the wider Asia-Pacific region.”

“Exercise Maru is an across-government exercise bringing together the New Zealand government agencies including the New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Ministry of Defence, along with international partners, and local industry,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

“Hosting the exercise will assess our capability and arrangements for responding to any attempts to smuggle dangerous weapons, or their components into our country.”

New Zealand will welcome a number of fellow member countries of the PSI to Auckland to participate in the exercise, as well as member and non-member observers from the Asia-Pacific region, Nanaia Mahuta said.

--


Q & A

What is the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)?
The PSI was launched in May 2003 by the United State in response to the threat posed to international security by the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), their delivery systems and related material, in particular the risk WMD might fall into the hands of state and non-state actors (eg terrorist groups) of concern. The PSI’s main purpose is to advance international cooperation to stop shipments of WMD ending up in the wrong hands, consistent with relevant international law and national legal requirements. Over 85 countries have joined the PSI.

What is New Zealand’s role in the PSI?
New Zealand joined the PSI in 2004 and is a member of the Initiative’s 20-country Operational Experts Group (OEG). New Zealand is an active participant in PSI activities, including hosting a meeting of the OEG in Auckland last year and participating in global and regional PSI exercises. Our involvement in PSI demonstrates our commitment to preventing the proliferation of WMD, and helps keep our own country and citizens safe from the risk of WMD falling into the wrong hands.

Who will be involved in Exercise Maru?
New Zealand Government agencies participating are the New Zealand Customs Service as lead agency, New Zealand Defence Force, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, New Zealand Police, New Zealand Fire Service, Maritime New Zealand, and the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet.

The Government is still in the process of confirming international participation but expects that some other members of the PSI Operational Experts Group will participate, especially those from our region. We are also inviting some non-PSI members from our region to observe the exercise.

When and where will the exercise be held?
Exercise Maru will be held from Monday 15 September to Friday 19 September in Auckland. The exercise will involve ships, boats, helicopters, fire engines and Police and Army vehicles, and will take place in the Hauraki Gulf and the Port of Auckland. No disruption to Auckland residents or port traffic is expected.

What will be discussed at the 5th anniversary meeting in Washington?
The PSI High Level Planning Meeting to be held on 28 and 29 May 2008 will review the PSI’s results and successes over the last five years and look at ways to continue strengthening the PSI for the future. There will also be a workshop open to both PSI endorsing states and states considering endorsement. It will provide detailed information on the broad range of PSI activities and share best practices and tools that have been developed to assist countries with implementing their commitment to the PSI.


ENDS

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