Nuclear Free Seas Floatilla

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2002 | 2002 News Archive | Press Statements | Growing Opposition | Government Statements

Growing opposition to nuclear shipment

Front page story Vanuatu Trading Post - Saturday 13th July

Foreign Ministry angry over nuclear shipment

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is livid over reports that a shipment of plutonium is scheduled to pass through the national exclusive waters.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, Miss Wendy Himford said they were not aware of any request for permission from either the Japanese Embassy in Fiji or the British High Commission in Port Vila for the possible use of the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by the ship, Pacific Pintail which is carrying the nuclear waste.

Miss Himford said although the Vanuatu Government is surprised at the news that the route taken by the ship might pass through Vanuatu waters around July 17 2002, it is again another clear example of aid donors' developed countries not respecting the protocol procedures.

She described the attitude as disrespectful of the sovereignty and dignity of Vanuatu and also the other islands countries in the Pacific. The Foreign Ministry official said it might be possible thoughthat the Department of Foreign Affairs in Vanuatu had received appropriate notification but the Ministry itself and especially the Minister For Foreign Affairs, Mr Serge Vohor has not been aware of any request of authorisation. click to read more

11 JULY 2002 SUVA (Pacnews)

Cook Islands' Prime Minister Dr Robert Woonton has lent support to the growing chorus among Pacific Island leaders to ban the shipment of plutonium through the Pacific region.

Expressing her support to growing opposition of such shipments through the Pacific, New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clarke was in Auckland on Sunday to farewell nine yachts heading to join the Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla.

According to the Greenpeace office in Suva, Fiji's Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase last week expressed concern over the possibility of accidents involving the shipment, and said the matter would be raised at the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Suva next month.

However, Fiji Labour Party (FLP) spokesperson John Ali criticised Qarase for not coming out strongly enough. He called on government to lodge a formal diplomatic protest to the shipping nations Japan and UK.

Two British flagged nuclear freighters carrying 255kg of weapons-useable plutonium are approaching the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), despite opposition from the country's government.

In a statement last Friday, the FSM Government said it "wishes to reiterate its continued strong opposition to the shipment of MOX fuel through the region ... urges the shipping nations involved to immediately reconsider their plan to transit through the region with the shipment of MOX fuel."

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Phil Goff has strongly reiterated to the nuclear shipping states its opposition to the shipment through the Pacific. He said New Zealand would be employing its P3 Orions surveillance aircraft up to monitor the passage of the ship through the South Pacific region.

Greenpeace said "there is a high likelihood the plutonium shipment will pass through Fiji or Vanuatu's EEZ around 17 July, during the ACP meeting."

This is the first plutonium shipment since September 11, raising concerns that it could be a terrorist target. The shipment is returning rejected plutonium MOX fuel, which originally came through the Pacific to Japan in 1999. The fuel was rejected when it was discovered that BNFL had falsified crucial safety data.

Statement of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) on the Transhipment of Nuclear and Radioactive Waste through the Caribbean Sea

The Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), meeting in Castries, St Lucia on May 6-7, 2002, registers its deep concern and consternation at reports that two nuclear transport vessels are currently en route to Japan through the Caribbean Sea to undertake the most controversial nuclear shipment in history, that of returning to Sellafield, in defiance of international law, a rejected cargo of deadly plutonium MOX fuel. The likelihood of the return journey also transiting the Caribbean Sea is of grave concern to the Foreign Ministers.

The COFCOR stresses that the events of September 11th, 2001, and the subsequent public revelations that nuclear options have indeed been explored by terrorist groups, clearly demonstrate that the threat of nuclear accident or nuclear terrorism is very real. In these circumstances, and at a time when the international community is so heavily focused on security issues, it is inconceivable that these dangerous shipments should be allowed to continue on a routine basis, without regard to the obvious and escalating risks to which they expose all societies in their transit path.

The COFCOR expresses its deep disappointment at the lack of adequate prior notification of these shipments and at the absence of any comprehensive environmental impact assessment on this matter undertaken by the shipping or receiving states.

The COFCOR warmly welcomes the initiative taken by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in requesting a study by the OAS of the implications for the safety and security of coastal states posed by the transshipment of nuclear wastes through their marine space. It is also heartened by the legal challenge undertaken by the Irish Government against the shipments and the close attention being paid by countries of the Pacific Forum to this issue. It recognized the efforts being made by the Panamanian Environment Committee to have legislation adopted which would prohibit nuclear transports from using the Panama Canal. It offers its full support to this initiative, and expresses its hope for the early adoption of the relevant legislation by the Panamanian Congress.

The COFCOR reiterates, in the strongest possible terms, its implacable and steadfast opposition to the continued use of the Caribbean Sea for the transshipment of nuclear waste. It urges those responsible to respect the clearly expressed wishes of the Governments and peoples of Caribbean Basin states to desist from this practice which represents the most devastating threat to the safety and security of the region. For their part the Caribbean Governments vow to examine every possible legal and other recourse to halt this dangerous practice which the current international security environment has rendered even more unacceptable.

Castries, Saint Lucia
7 May 2002