New Zealand's nuclear-free zone

In 1984, Prime Minister David Lange barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. Under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987,territorial sea, land and airspace of New Zealand became nuclear-free zones. This has since become a sacrosanct touchstone of New Zealand foreign policy.

The Act prohibits “entry into the internal waters of New Zealand 12 miles (22.2 km) radius by any ship whose propulsion is wholly or partly dependent on nuclear power” and bans the dumping of radioactive waste within the nuclear-free zone, as well as prohibiting any New Zealand citizen or resident “to manufacture, acquire, possess, or have any control over any nuclear explosive device.” The nuclear-free zone act does not make building land-based nuclear power plants illegal.“

After the Disarmament and Arms Control Act was passed by the Lange Labour government, the United States government suspended its ANZUS obligations to New Zealand. The legislation was a milestone in New Zealand's development as a nation and seen as an important act of sovereignty, self-determination and cultural identity. New Zealand's three decade anti-nuclear campaign is the only successful movement of its type in the world which resulted in the nation's nuclear-free zone status being enshrined in legislation.

ANSUS and New Zealand bans nuclear material

In 1985, the nature of the ANZUS alliance changed significantly. Due to a current of anti-nuclear sentiment within New Zealand, tension had long been present between ANZUS members as the United States is a declared nuclear power. France, a naval power and a declared nuclear power, had been conducting nuclear tests on South Pacific Islands. Following the victory of the New Zealand Labour Party in elections in 1984, Prime Minister David Lange barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. Reasons given were the dangers of nuclear weapons, continued French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, and opposition to US President Ronald Reagan's policy of aggressively confronting the Soviet Union. Given that the United States Navy refused to confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons aboard ships, these laws essentially refused access to New Zealand ports for all United States Navy ships. In February 1985, a port-visit request by the United States for the USS Buchanan was refused by New Zealand, as the Buchanan was capable of launching nuclear depth bombs. According to opinion polls taken before the 1984 election, only 30 per cent of New Zealanders supported visits by US warships with a clear majority of 58 per cent opposed, and over 66 per cent of the population lived in locally declared nuclear free zones. An opinion poll commissioned by the 1986 Defence Committee of Enquiry confirmed that 92 per cent now opposed nuclear weapons in New Zealand and 69 per cent opposed warship visits; 92 per cent wanted New Zealand to promote nuclear disarmament through the UN, while 88 per cent supported the promotion of nuclear free zones.

United States suspends obligations to New Zealand

After consultations with Australia and after negotiations with New Zealand broke down, the United States announced that it was suspending its treaty obligations to New Zealand until United States Navy ships were re-admitted to New Zealand ports, citing that New Zealand was “a friend, but not an ally”. The crisis made front-page headlines for weeks in many American newspapers, while many American cabinet members were quoted as expressing a deep sense of betrayal. However, David Lange did not withdraw New Zealand from ANZUS, although his government's policy led to the US's decision to suspend its treaty obligations to New Zealand.

An opinion poll in New Zealand in 1991 showed 54% of those sampled preferred to let the treaty lapse rather than accept visits again by nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered vessels. The policy did not become law until June 8, 1987 with the passing of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987, more than two years after the Buchanan was refused entry after the USA refused to declare the presence or absence of nuclear weapons, and a year after the USA suspended its treaty obligations to New Zealand.

Rainbow Warrior

On July 10, 1985, the French DGSE bombed the Greenpeace protest vessel Rainbow Warrior in Auckland. This event strengthened opposition in New Zealand of the military application of nuclear technology in any form. The failure of Western leaders to condemn what could be considered an act of war on New Zealand by France caused a great deal of change in foreign and defense policy. New Zealand distanced itself from its traditional ally, the United States, and built relationships with small South Pacific nations, while retaining its good relations with Australia, and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom.

Rainbow Warrior after the French and now a dive site in Northland

From wikipedia

new_zealand_history/recent/ansus.txt · Last modified: 2010/11/17 09:00 by art
CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International
www.chimeric.de Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki do yourself a favour and use a real browser - get firefox!! Recent changes RSS feed Valid XHTML 1.0