No nuclear shipments to pass by Irish seas

Ireland has taken a stand against other countries trafficking their nuclear waste nearby and requested assurance from the US and France that proposed shipments "will not enter Irish waters."

Along with other coastal countries including New Zealand, Peru and Chile, Ireland brought a proposal this week to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), seeking detailed information on all movements of nuclear waste on international waters.

Minister Martin Cullen said it was necessary for coastal states such as Ireland to be fully informed regarding nuclear shipment issues due to the public safety, security and environmental implications of an accident or incident.

“Given the possible risk and the public concern posed by international nuclear shipments, this information is vital,” Mr Cullen insisted. “Our experts need to assess the risk of such shipments and take appropriate measures in relation to emergency preparedness and response, should we consider it appropriate.”

Irish government officials also sought assurance from US and French government officials that the proposed shipment of plutonium from the US to France would not at any time enter Irish waters.

Following the decommissioning of nuclear weapons in an agreement between the US and Russia, the plutonium is being shipped to France to be converted into fuel for use in nuclear reactors.

“While nuclear states argue that such shipments utilise international waters,” Mr Cullen continued, “the Irish government feels that, in a changed world, nuclear shipments cannot be shrouded in secrecy.”

By Jane Kettle

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