Government bombs out over Rakon

The government’s green light to Rakon’ export of military grade oscillators sets a dangerous precedent for how to deal with dual use products, Green Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

“The government seems unwillingly to offend one of New Zealand’s prime exporters, easing the rules to suit Rakon,” Mr Locke says.

“The justification used to take Rakon’s oscillators out of the strategic export control system misses the point.

“The question is not whether shock hardened and radiation hardened crystal oscillators are ‘specifically designed for military use’. Of course, both types of oscillators have a dual use, that is, they serve civilian as well as military purposes – for example, shock hardened oscillators in construction work, and radiation hardened oscillators in aerospace.

“The real debate is over whether Rakon should be taking research money from the American defence contractor Rockwell to develop a particular ‘high G-shock crystal’ to fit the specific military requirements of smart shells, as admitted by Rakon in a leaked May 6 2005 email.

“Secondly, should Rakon be allowed to develop a particular standard of “radiation hardened” oscillators to put into a proposed new American smart bomb navigation system, as also referred to in Rakon documents. These radiation hardened oscillators were also required to be able to function correctly at a depth of 135 metres, which is presumably a military specification for underground or underwater launched missiles.

“The government claims it has an ‘out’ under the Wassenaar agreement on strategic goods trading, which doesn’t specifically mention crystal oscillators, but international agreements allow flexibility, to cover what are normally civilian items, adapted for military use.

“New Zealand should err on the side of caution. To promote peace in the world we should not allow a Kiwi company to develop and export components critical to smart bombs and missiles that are going to be used in wars we don’t agree with, such as in Iraq, and potentially in even a nuclear war.

” At this level, we cannot pick and choose and dodge our responsibility. The Ministry would be thinking and acting somewhat differently if Rakon’s design, develop and export contracts were with, say, Iran, rather than with the United States which our government is reluctant to offend.

“In all such cases though we share a certain responsibility for – and the potential consequences of – such trade.”