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NZ Sacrifices Pacific On Nuclear Shipments

NZ Officials Get it Badly Wrong and Sacrifice Pacific on Nuclear Shipments

Auckland, 14 August 2003: In a blatant attempt to weaken the Pacific's resolve to stop nuclear shipments, New Zealand officials at the Pacific Islands Forum have pushed to have legal and political steps to protect the region from nuclear shipments dropped.

Instead they are in favour of resuming “dialogue” with nuclear shipping states the UK, Japan and France - talks that have gone nowhere for the past three years. Recommendations by officials to leaders abandon the commitments already agreed in February in Nadi, Fiji.

The UK, France, Japan and Australia have been shipping nuclear materials through the region since the early 1990s, attracting angry opposition from countries en route. It took many years to get the shipping states to the table to discuss the region's concerns.

“Dialogue” fell apart in Nadi after the UK made it clear it was not prepared to make concessions to Pacific nations over nuclear shipments. The UK maintained this position at a meeting on nuclear shipments at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in July.

"The only reason the UK is prepared to come back to the table now is that the Pacific states dropped the dialogue - talking was going nowhere and the UK began to fear that the Pacific route would be closed off," said Greenpeace New Zealand spokesman Glyn Walters.

Despite strong opposition from Pacific states such as Fiji, Vanuatu and at the Small Islands States Leaders meeting today, New Zealand officials have insisted on dropping an agreement to pursue diplomatic and legal measures to address the risks posed by the shipments.

"Helen Clark must support the Pacific nations and assure the New Zealand public that Forum members will be able to investigate legal and diplomatic options in parallel with 'dialogue', to stop these dangerous nuclear shipments".

"Talk on its own will go nowhere”.

"It’s like fiddling while Rome burns - if only 'dialogue' continues, more nuclear shipments will come through the Pacific, with no prior notification, no liability regime and completely inadequate emergency response plans".

ENDS

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