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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 234


Senator VALLENTINE(10.52) —I would like to correct that. I have never said that nuclear weapons are likely to accidentally explode; let me make that clear. I have said that they are dangerous, but have never said that they would accidentally explode. I agree with Senator Jessop's point that they are not triggered for explosion, but they are subject, as are conventional weapons, to fire. They are subject to fire and to implosion if the vessels are rammed, if there is a collision, and then the radioactive substances would leak out. Is Senator Jessop so stupid as to suggest that that would be less dangerous than a fire from a conventional weapon? Maybe Senator Jessop does not understand the qualitative difference between conventional weaponry and nuclear weaponry. The results of an accident with a nuclear weapon by fire or by collision would be absolutely catastrophic in any city. This is the very reason why the citizens of New York and San Francisco will not allow nuclear weapons to go into their harbours. There is a qualitative difference, which perhaps some Opposition senators do not understand, in the kinds of results that would occur if there were a fire on board ships carrying nuclear weapons and the nuclear weapons were ignited. I am not saying that they would explode accidentally; I have never said that and I do not like the inference drawn by Senator Jessop. That is a misrepresentation of the point. I have never said that they would accidentally explode, but I do say that, if they were to catch fire or to be damaged by collision, radioactive substances would leak out and cause contamination such as would never result from any kind of conventional weapon fire.