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Further NZ contribution to disarmament

1 June 2004

Further NZ contribution to disarmament

New Zealand is taking further steps to help stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

"The government has decided to join the G8 Global Partnership and to support the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)," the ministers said. "Both are programmes designed to supplement existing multilateral efforts by taking practical actions against emerging proliferation risks.

"Global security is increasingly under challenge and there's the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists or states that are not fully complying with international treaties.

"The Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction was launched by the G8 leaders in 2002. It aims to address the WMD legacies of the former Soviet Union in the first instance through a range of projects to secure and dispose of radioactive materials and chemical weapons, dismantle nuclear submarines and re-employ former weapons scientists. "The government will contribute NZ$1 million in 2003/04 to a cooperative project in Russia.

"Details are still being worked through but it is likely that New Zealand's support will go towards the development of chemical weapons destruction facilities which are a priority.

"New Zealand has also joined a number of other countries in supporting the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) which was launched last year by President Bush to strengthen international cooperation against trafficking in WMD and their delivery systems.

"Foreign Affairs and Defence officials are attending the PSI's first anniversary meeting in Krakow, Poland, this week to demonstrate New Zealand's support for the PSI objectives and our interest in contributing to working through the operational and legal issues involved in international interdiction exercises.

"The extent to which New Zealand participates in individual PSI activities will be assessed in the light of how the initiative develops and our national interests. "Regional training exercises are planned over the next 18 months by Australia, Japan and Singapore as members of the PSI core group. We will be looking closely at these and other proposals on a case-by-case basis.

"These further contributions to stopping the spread of dangerous weapons and materials reflect the government's commitment to bolstering the multilateral disarmament and arms control treaty system.

"New Zealand has a strong record of supporting non-proliferation objectives. Our Nuclear Free Zone Act remains a decisive contribution to the global effort by ensuring that nuclear weapons stay out of this part of the world. "Additional measures to stop the spread of WMD must be matched by practical progress in disarmament by those states possessing nuclear weapons and renunciation of plans to renew and refine existing arsenals.

"New Zealand will continue to champion the cause for nuclear disarmament as the only real guarantee against the risk that such weapons will spread and one day be used with catastrophic consequences."

ENDS


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