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Greenpeace Delivers Letter And Mock Plutonium

Greenpeace Delivers Letter And Mock Plutonium To British Consulate; Sends Ship To Oppose Plutonium Shipment

April 2002:

Greenpeace today called on the British Government to end its continued support for Japan's plutonium programme and to cancel an imminent plutonium shipment from Japan.

Greenpeace activists delivered a letter opposing the latest shipment, along with a mock drum of plutonium- uranium oxide (MOX), to the British Consul General, Stephen Turner, in Queen St, Auckland today.

“The plutonium trade is completely unnecessary, highly dangerous and a potential terrorist target,” said Greenpeace New Zealand Campaign Manager Glyn Walters.

“Greenpeace is here today to sound the alarm and ask the British Government to intervene immediately to stop the shipments through the Pacific”.

Two armed British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL) freighters, Pacific Pintail and the Pacific Teal, left England on Friday bound for Japan, to return rejected plutonium shipped with falsified critical safety data by BNFL. This could be transported via the Tasman Sea.

Japan demanded the return of the material as a pre- condition for any further plutonium MOX contracts.

“The UK and Japan arrogantly refuse to warn countries en route in advance, or to consult them on environmental and security risks. Millions of people around the world have a right to know of the dangers they are being exposed to because of the arrogance and incompetence of the nuclear industry,” said Mr Walters.

“This shipment needs to be stopped and we will do all we can to peacefully prevent it happening," Mr Walters said.

The Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza has set sail for Japan to oppose the shipment.

Greenpeace would use its ship and other resources to ‘sound the alert’ on this shipment. The organisation is also considering legal action to stop the return shipment because it would breach UK and international law.

BNFL and the British Government hope that the return shipment from Japan in June, which includes 255 kilograms of plutonium, enough plutonium for 50 nuclear bombs, will result in contracts to ship more than 25,000 kilograms of plutonium to Japan over the next decade.

Only three weeks ago, a senior Japanese politician, Ichiro Ozawa, stated that Japan could make thousands of nuclear weapons using its plutonium.

"A massive expansion of Japan's plutonium programme pivots on this proposed shipment of reject material back to the UK, " says Mr Walters.

The route of the June shipment from Japan to the UK remains secret but Japanese officials have confirmed it will be one of three options: via the Pacific, Panama Canal, Caribbean, Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea; via the Pacific, Cape Horn, Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea; via the Pacific, Tasman Sea, Cape of Good Hope, Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea.

Ends

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