15 Sep 2008

Weapons of mass destruction focus of border exercise

3:04 pm on 15 September 2008

New Zealand's ability to keep out materials used to make weapons of mass destruction is to be tested in a border control exercise starting on Monday.

The Customs Service, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Defence Force, will run the week-long Exercise Maru in the Hauraki Gulf and Ports of Auckland.

It says the first part will involve the tracking, surveillance, interception and boarding of a vessel with components on board.

Customs says the second part is an intellectual exercise looking at all the related issues, such as who is liable and detention of people.

Customs says a successful result will be identifying components, using intelligence to identify specific vessels and carrying out a successful boarding.

Representatives from several countries, including Britain, France and the United States, are participating in Exercise Maru, while a number of others will observe.