NZ considers taking France to World Court

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Wellington - As Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior II sailed away from Mururoa atoll yesterday to join Bastille Day anti-nuclear protests in Tahiti tomorrow, New Zealand said it was considering taking France to the International Court of Justice to stop nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

An opinion poll this week showed an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders wanted stronger action from the government to protest against Paris's decision to resume testing at Mururoa from September.

Greenpeace believes a legal case can be based on the threat of radioactive contamination of the ocean. It says France is breaking the promise it made at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in May to "exercise utmost restraint" on nuclear testing. Wellington said it was taking legal advice and would consider every option in international law to stop the planned series of eight underground blasts. But Australia, which joined New Zealand in a similar application in 1973, was unenthusiastic. "They doubt it would achieve anything, but it's also complicated by the fact that we have not done anything [in the World Court] between 1975 and 1991, when underground testing was continuing," a Canberra source said. France has withdrawn its recognition of the court.

Greenpeace said Rainbow Warrior II was leaving two smaller vessels on the outskirts of the French exclusion zone, and insisted three protesters were still at large near the test site on a small inflatable craft.

nDublin - The Irish Prime Minister, John Bruton, and other political leaders will boycott Bastille Day celebrations in protest at French nuclear test plans, AP reports.