Green Party Veterans Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke today rejected the British Defence Minister’s claims that soldiers consented to being exposed to nuclear test fallout in the early 1950s.
“It’s absurd to think that the servicemen, including five New Zealanders, would have willingly risked their health in this way,” said Mr Locke.
“They wouldn’t have become nuclear guinea pigs if they’d realised the real dangers.
“In addition, it would have been very difficult for servicemen not to give their consent, given the culture of the armed forces in the 1950s. Casting doubt on your superiors’ judgement, or seeming to be a wimp, just wasn’t done. It wouldn’t have helped your career chances,” he said.
Mr Locke said New Zealand should seek a full admission of wrongdoing from the British Government, and assist New Zealand nuclear veterans here in any court cases that flow from the Maralinga and Monte Bello Island experiments.
New Zealand has already assisted the New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans Association in its planned court cases over the exposure of New Zealand sailors to British nuclear tests over Christmas Island in the 1950s.
“The government should also track down the five soldiers involved in the Australian tests, or their survivors, to get the full story on what happened, and the health consequences,” said Mr Locke.