Saturday, February 05, 2005

Caruana re-affirms Gibraltar policy on Nuclear Submarine visits

Chief Minister Peter Caruana yesterday told Canal Sur Radio that Britain had assured him on Wednesday afternoon that the work the nuclear submarine required was routine maintenance and had nothing to do with any of the vessel’s nuclear systems. It had been explained to him that it was the external parts of the vessel like the tower, periscope, and outer casing that required repairs. During the interview Mr Caruana said that he did not think it was reasonable to object to the repairs of a periscope on the basis that it is the periscope of a nuclear submarine. However he confirmed that he had not been given all the details of the repairs.

Mr Caruana said:

To have an intelligent debate we must focus on the source of the potential danger which would be posed by repairs to the vessel’s nuclear system, and not on something that has nothing to do with this. We were not told that the fault affected the auxiliary diesel engine and we found this out from Spanish political sources and for this we are grateful to Sr Moratinos.

Mr Caruana said there were two different things to take account of, the degree of information that is made available and the transparency surrounding these issues, and the fact that the repairs do not involve any of the submarine’s nuclear systems which is what can constitute a public health risk. He continued:

Gibraltar is not opposed to the visit of nuclear submarines or to any repairs or maintenance that do not affect the vessel’s nuclear systems. That is what we have always been opposed to since the case of the Tireless. But this time it is a different case.

Mr Caruana also noted the visit by nuclear vessels to ports like Cadiz and the US military base of Rota with the non-opposition by the Spanish political authorities or public opinion.

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