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MEDIA RELEASE August 16, 2002


The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC) has applauded the Prime Minister of Fiji, Laisenia Qarase, for being the first Pacific leader to speak out against the use of Pacific waters for the destructive and dangerous testing of missiles of mass destruction.

Prime Minister Qarase stated at the opening of the 33rd Forum leaders meeting yesterday that Fiji would "forcefully protest against the use of Pacific waters for the destructive and dangerous testing of nuclear weapons and missiles of mass destruction."

PCRC believes the issue should be on the agenda of the Forum Leaders meeting because it was relevant towards the security and sustainable growth of the region, as well as global security.

PCRC therefore strongly urges Pacific Forum leaders to look at strengthening the Rarotonga Treaty for a South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone by, among other things, prohibiting long-range nuclear-capable missile delivery systems and a further protocol preventing any country from testing missiles in the zone.

PCRC also noted that the U.S. is the only signatory that has not ratified the protocol to the Rarotonga Treaty and urged leaders to strongly express their protest on this.

"The U.S. and other world powers have consistently abused the Pacific Ocean for military experiments which have never helped the Pacific Islands. If Pacific Island countries do not speak out against this testing now, we will continue to be subjected to more dangerous tests such as those that irradiated Bikini Islanders in the Marshall Islanders in 1954.

"We deplore the views of nuclear powers such as the U.S., that the Pacific Ocean is just a vast playground to test their military toys. They must learn to treat it sustainably with respect," PCRC stated.

Ever since October 1999 when the United States conducted its first test of a prototype National Missile Defence system costing almost US$ 100 million, the PCRC has urged Pacific leaders to speak out against the tests as it was a costly useless exercise putting the region at risk of being caught in a military conflict, or being at the centre of a catastrophic accident.

For more information please contact Motarilavoa Hilda Lini or Stanley Simpson on Phone: (679) 3304 649 or e-mail: pcrc@is.com.fj 

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