Greens concerned about backdown on nuclear-free policy

Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke is worried the Prime Minister may be loosening New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy.

“Her comments from Washington imply that a nuclear-capable US warship could come here, even if the Americans refuse to say it doesn’t have nuclear weapons on board.

Helen Clark said yesterday that nuclear ship visits would be looked at in light of the the removal of tactical weapons from US navy ships.

“Up until now New Zealand has not accepted any general statements about the status of US surface ships, because if tactical weapons were added to any warship it wouldn’t be broadcast to the world.

“In practice, the 1987 legislation requires America to confirm the non-nuclear status of any nuclear capable ship coming here — which the US so far refuses to do.

“If America is going to continue a strict neither confirm nor deny policy it will have to accept that its nuclear capable ships will never be allowed to enter New Zealand ports.

“New Zealanders are proud to live in a nuclear-free country, and happy we’ve stuck at it for 15 years.

“I don’t think Kiwis want any loosening of this policy to accommodate some agenda of the Labour/Alliance government – such as for a free trade agreement with the United States.

“In any case, our trade is enhanced by our nuclear-free, clean, green image. We should keep it that way,” said Mr Locke.