DIPLOMACY

Concern at Process on Nuclear Free Zone Vote

Friday 28 September 2007, 12:30PM
By Phil Goff
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New Zealand strongly supports nuclear weapon free zones. It continues to support the IAEA's safeguards work in the Middle East and the development of a nuclear weapon free zone in that region.

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Disarmament Minister Phil Goff has expressed disappointment that poor process and lack of consultation has led New Zealand and likeminded Scandinavian, European and other countries to abstain on a resolution for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. The resolution was proposed at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference in Vienna last week.

"Countries attending including New Zealand each year consider and normally accept by consensus a resolution on the application of IAEA safeguards in the Middle East, for a Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone," said Mr Goff.

"New Zealand and others favoured the substance of the resolution, but the normal process of consultation on this resolution was not adhered to and put officials in an invidious position. Because of the lack of due process, New Zealand joined our normal likeminded countries in Europe, including Scandinavia, and abstained in the vote.

"New Zealand strongly supports nuclear weapon free zones. It continues to support the IAEA's safeguards work in the Middle East and the development of a nuclear weapon free zone in that region.

"It is disappointing that poor consultation and lack of process on this occasion has caused us to abstain. This resolution would be normally adopted by consensus. We hope that it will be possible to return to consensus next year", said Mr Goff.

The resolution passed with 53 votes in favour, 2 nos and 47 abstentions.