NZ navy to clash with French nuke fleet

THE FRENCH and New Zealand navies could clash on the high seas if France pursues anti-nuclear protesters outside the 12-mile exclusion zone round Mururoa atoll in the South Pacific, a New Zealand navy officer indicated last week.

The French task of protecting its test site looks even more complicated following the announcement by Greenpeace yesterday that it will deploy a helicopter off one of its vessels near Mururoa. France will be unable to force the aircraft down over water, and cannot arrest it if the mother ship remains in international waters.

Lieutenant Commander John Campbell, commanding the New Zealand navy research vessel HMNZS Tui, said protesters will be permitted to board his vessel while they were "subject to hot pursuit by French forces" after breaching the zone around the atoll.

The Tui is listed as part of the "Peace Flotilla" which is sailing to the edge of the exclusion zone to try to prevent France's planned eight underground nuclear tests on Mururoa between this September and May next year. The plan has provoked worldwide condemnation, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, where many of the vessels in the Peace Flotilla are registered.

"The French could demand that these people get back under French law because they had broken French law. My directive states that we are not to hand them back and that we are to seek assistance and guidance from New Zealand," he said last week.

However, he added that he would try to discourage any protesters from boarding Tui by increasing speed or manoeuvring to avoid them. He already has two New Zealand MPs, six journalists and one official from the Foreign Affairs and Trade Department on board.

Commander Alan Peppercorn, the New Zealand Naval attache in London, said the Tui had been "expressly instructed not to make contact with Greenpeace", but said that did not rule out other environmental groups.

Even if protesters do not board the Tui, the presence of the New Zealand Navy vessel could deter the French from pursuing protesters out of the 12 nautical mile exclusion zone if the vessels cluster round it.

There are already 16 other vessels with the Tui, which left New Zealand on 10 August and is expected to stay off Mururoa for two or three weeks, then return to Rarotonga before going back to Mururoa for another two to three weeks.

They include three Greenpeace vessels - the Greenpeace, Rainbow Warrior and Vega - and the Te-au-o-Tonga, a traditional Cook Islands voyaging canoe.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world