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Peters' nuclear "sell-out" claim inaccurate

Rt Hon Sir William Birch
Minister of Finance

23 August 1999
For Immediate Release

Peters' nuclear "sell-out" claim inaccurate

Winston Peters’ claim last week that the Government is giving North Korea $4 million to build nuclear reactors is wildly inaccurate in every respect, Finance Minister Sir William Birch said today.

“The facts are that New Zealand is part of a group of countries contributing help North Korea buy oil to generate electricity. Our share of the programme is about $0.5 million a year,” Sir William said.

“Formerly, North Korea used to generate its electricity from nuclear reactors which also produced a small amount of material capable of being used in nuclear weapons. That was seen internationally as undesirable.

“North Korea has agreed to stop using the old nuclear reactors. A small group of countriesnot including New Zealandis building new electricity generating reactors for North Korea which are not capable of producing materials that could be used in nuclear weapons.

“While those new reactors are being built, North Korea is using oil to generate its electricity requirement. A wider group of countrieswith New Zealand among themis contributing to the purchase of the oil required for that purpose.

“The grant is being provided by New Zealand under our official development assistance programme. Mr Peters paints this as a ‘nuclear sell-out’ and a ‘national disgrace’. His own allegations are the disgrace.

“This is just another example of the usual Peters beat-up stuff. It is past all the normal bounds of irresponsibility,” Sir William said.

Ends

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