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Sinn Féin demands tougher laws to prevent spread of nuclear weapons

5 November, 2003


In the course of the debate in the Dáil today on the Containment of Nuclear Weapons Bill Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD called for much tougher penalties for anybody convicted of the "unauthorised production, use, acquisition, transfer or processing of material that could be used to make nuclear weapons." Deputy Ó Snodaigh was very critical of the fact that at present penalties only allowed for a four year jail sentence and/or a €5000 fine saying they were not credible deterrents. He was also highly critical of the Government's support for the export of dual-use goods and technology, which are being used in weapons production around the globe.

Proposing amendments to the Bill which would bring about 10 year sentences the Dublin South Central TD said:

"We need to establish credible deterrents and credible sanctions in this state for the offences of unauthorized production, use, acquisition, transfer or processing of material that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

"Four year sentences and €5000 fines are not a credible deterrents for the offence of obstructing nuclear weapons inspections or for contributing to the spread of weapons of mass destruction. he said.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh contrasted the severity of the sanction used in other circumstances. He said:

"it is arguable that it is considerably more serious to lie to nuclear weapons inspectors than it is to give false information to Gardaí, which carries a penalty for 5 years, or even to perjure oneself which, as remarked by Justice Carney in the Keane case, can result in a life sentence.

"Contributing to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - cannot reasonably be construed as anything but a grave offence. This is a crime against humanity which deserves the strongest possible deterrent and the harshest available sanction"he said. ENDS

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