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1995 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Auckland

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Auckland on Wednesday 8th November 1995.


QUESTION:

Mr Major, do you feel that your back is now against the wall as far as the nuclear affair is concerned?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I don’t remotely feel as though my back is against the wall on that or any other issue. We know well what the feelings are about nuclear weapons in different parts of the world, the British position is well understood. No-one is in any doubt about my position. I have stated it many times and it hasn’t changed.

QUESTION:

Do you have no regrets that it is only you and China that have not condemned the French nuclear testing and don’t you fear that it could give a boost to Republican resentment in Australia and New Zealand?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I don’t have that feeling at all. We have worked very hard for there to be a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. There is, partly as a result of the work that Britain has done, going to be a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty next year. It probably would not have happened without the British influence and other people’s work as well. We are a nuclear weapon country. We don’t have to test, we are not going to test. The French feel that they have to. That is a decision for France, France have made that decision, it is for them to make and I am not about to condemn them for doing so.

QUESTION:

Do you have any sympathy at all with the anger that is being expressed on the streets of New Zealand and there will be more anger now that you are here?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I am sure you will see that there is. I understand the way people feel about it, but that is a decision that is for France. France has taken that decision. I am not going to join in the general condemnation of that. I have indicated that in the past, I am not proposing to change my mind about that. Taking decisions like that is not an easy decision. I doubt that President Chirac took it willingly or easily. He decided that he felt it necessary that he had to take that decision.

Well, since I have the ultimate responsibility for the British nuclear deterrent, I can imagine the advice that was put to him. And upon that basis, our position is that we are not going to condemn France. I have said that repeatedly and it remains the position.

QUESTION:

Are you going to back tougher action against Nigeria if there is not an improved record on human rights? And what will you try to do for Den Saro-Wiwa?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are concerned about Nigeria. We had some contact with Nigeria recently about the trial that concluded some time ago and we are concerned about the nature of the trial with Mr Saro-Wiwa, and of course the outcome of the trial, and that is certainly a matter that I shall wish to discuss with other Commonwealth Heads over the next few days.

QUESTION:

What about action?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are going to discuss that over the weekend. I think it is wise to have the discussion before we reach the conclusion. I have absolutely no doubt that strong feelings will be expressed about that. We will express our own view about it. It will be discussed in the next few days and no doubt, by the conclusion of the meeting, our action will be clear.