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National Seeks to Undermine Nuclear Free Position

National Seeks to Undermine Our Nuclear Free Position.

Auckland, Wednesday May 5: National's proposal that we should maintain our Nuclear Free status but take out our ban on nuclear propelled ships is not a surprise and still makes no sense.

"Its completely dishonest," said Greenpeace spokesperson Bunny McDiarmid. "New Zealanders will see right through what they are trying to do, and that is to dismantle our nuclear free stance which has served New Zealand' s interests well and is more relevant today than it ever was."

The National taskforce headed by Wyatt Creech was established to review New Zealand's Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act. The taskforce report predictably calls for a change to New Zealand's nuclear free status.

The report proposes that our ban on nuclear weapons should remain but that a ban on nuclear propelled ships could be dealt with by way of a policy decision of the Government of the day. "What is not spelt out is that if the Government was National then nuclear powered vessels would most likely be back in our harbours, tomorrow." Said McDiarmid.

The security theme of this century is terrorism and the G8 considers one of the most concerning aspects to be terrorists getting hold of nuclear materials. The US has the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet, and this did nothing to stop September 11.

There are a number of ports, including New York, where having a nuclear powered vessel in its harbour is considered a security risk. "The best security for our country is to remain nuclear free and to continue to call for all countries to dismantle their nuclear arsenals rather than inviting nuclear vessels into our harbours." Said McDiarmid.

"It is impossible to separate the nuclear power part of our legislation from the nuclear weapons part and clearly National doesn't understand this or is deliberately undermining it," said McDiarmid.

Nuclear powered vessels, nuclear weapons and nuclear strategies are intimately linked. The only vessels that are nuclear powered today are military ones. The only nuclear weapons in the US navy today are onboard nuclear powered submarines.

On April 22 New Zealand took a lead role in putting the alarming proliferation of nuclear weapons back on the global agenda by calling for an open debate at the UN Security Council. Normally only members of the Security Council can speak.

"NZ has always been able to lead by example and we have a respected reputation internationally on disarmament issues. A change in our policy would also damage our leadership on these issues," concluded McDiarmid.

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