CNN World News

New Zealand continues battle against French nuclear testing

September 23, 1995
Web posted at: 11:34 a.m. EDT (1534 GMT)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand will press on in its battle to force France to stop nuclear testing in the Pacific, despite the World Court's refusal to proceed with New Zealand's case.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jim Bolger said that New Zealand would return to the World Court with its case, as well as press for resolutions against the testing at the United Nations and the coming meeting between Commonwealth heads of government. (270K AIFF or 540K WAV sound)

Bolger also said he firmly believes public and international opinion is moving against such tests, and that eventually they will be stopped.

"Clearly it was worthwhile taking it to the world courts," Bolger said. "What we want first and foremost is to stop the French testing. If that proves a goal we can achieve at this stage, we want all nuclear weapons states to sign up to a comprehensive test ban treaty with a zero threshold." (405K AIFF or 405K WAV sound)

Bolger also said his government would continue to press France to stop detonating nuclear bombs at Muroroa atoll. On Friday, the World Court in The Hague voted not to issue an emergency order halting the underground nuclear weapons testing. The court also refused to reinstate a lawsuit New Zealand filed in 1973 against nuclear testing because that lawsuit was directed at atmospheric tests.

France hailed those rulings as a victory for good sense. It says the tests are essential to ensure that its nuclear arsenal is in good shape, and its says it will end all testing next year.

New Zealand, about 3,000 miles to the southwest of Mururoa, has a long history of opposition to the use of nuclear power. In 1987, the New Zealand government declared its borders a "nuclear free zone," refusing entry to its ports to nuclear powered ships or ships carrying nuclear weapons.

The country has also signed onto a 1985 treaty calling for the entire South Pacific to be made nuclear free, a 1963 treaty banning nuclear weapons testing, a 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and a 1971 treaty calling for the prohibition of nuclear weapons on the ocean floor.

New Zealand's staunch anti-nuclear stand has caused friction between that country and others. In addition to the recent conflict with France over testing, New Zealand has clashed with the United States over the landing of U.S. warships in its ports. U.S. policy is to not disclose whether a particular ship carries nuclear weapons. As recently as March, President Clinton said that New Zealand's anti-nuclear legislation "remains a serious issue" that will keep the two countries at a distance.

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