Key emphasises NZ's anti-nuclear stance

Last updated 05:56 20/06/2014
John Key
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JOHN KEY: "There ain't any time in the future we're ever going to nuclear power, nuclear weapons ... or nuclear anything; it's just not happening."

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Prime Minister John Key has brushed off a speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry at the New Zealand Embassy lauding nuclear energy and praising the safety of America's nuclear powered warships.

The reference in his speech at a gathering of Pacific leaders in Washington yesterday evening raised eyebrows given the three decade old rift over New Zealand's anti nuclear legislation, which has only recently been healed.

But Key, who followed Kerry as an official speaker, said today he did not read anything into the speech and it made no difference to New Zealand.

"We have anti nuclear legislation and New Zealanders wear it as a badge of honour. There ain't any time in the future of [New Zealand] that we're ever going to nuclear power, nuclear weapons ... or nuclear anything; it's just not happening."

New Zealand was mostly run on renewable energy anyway and being in a seismic zone meant nuclear power was "never going to be an option".

Kerry also referred to the safety record of the US Navy's nuclear-powered ships, which are banned from New Zealand waters. And he referred to American blood shed in the Pacific during World War II.

But Key said he read the speech in the context of the climate change debate and not as a reference to New Zealand's legislation. There had been no pressure from the US to debate that issue ahead of his trip to Washington this week.

The nuclear reference was only a few lines in a wide ranging speech covering ocean pollution and climate change.

"The Americans are absolutely clear of my legal requirements nor are they putting us under any pressure at all to try and change our law," Key said.

The US has not sent warships to New Zealand since the anti-nuclear legislation of the 1980s due to its policy of neither confirming nor denying that they carry nuclear weapons.

Key said he would not be raising the issue of the resumption of US warships on this visit and "it's not on the horizon at the moment."

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