Greenpeace vessels to rendezvous at Mururoa despite French warnings
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Greenpeace said its yacht Vega will sail Wednesday for Mururoa Atoll, where a protest flotilla will assemble despite French warnings to stay away from the nuclear test site.
Steve Sawyer, international director of the environmentalist group, said the Vega was sailing from Auckland, New Zealand with a crew of seven. He said it would rendezvous at Mururoa next month with other vessels led by the organization’s new flagship, which is named Greenpeace.
The Greenpeace, a converted Dutch tugboat, replaced the Rainbow Warrior, which was sunk by explosives July 10 at its berth in Auckland Harbor. Crewman Fernando Pereira, 36, was killed.
A French-speaking couple with false Swiss passports are imprisoned in Auckland awaiting trail on charges of murder, arson and conspiracy. French press reports allege that they are members of the French secret service.
President Francois Mitterrand of France has ordered an inquiry into the Rainbow Warrior sinking, but also said France will continue its nuclear tests at the atoll in French Polynesia and repel any protest vessels that enter the area.
Sawyer said Tuesday: ″We will stay on the edge of the 12-mile territorial limit because Mitterrand has said they will repel us with force if we cross the limit. They’ve used force before.
″But it’s a bit surprising they have the gall, if you’ll excuse the pun, to threaten us again after what has happened.″
The Greenpeace is equipped with radar and will have no difficulty maintaining a position in international waters just outside the 12-mile limit, he said.