NZ opted out of new security pact: PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand's role in the Five Eyes intelligence grouping continues, despite this country playing no part in a new security pact.


New Zealand has opted out of the new tripartite security pact among traditional friends, which is aimed at focusing efforts to respond to China's rapid military expansion in the Asia Pacific.

The first initiative of the pact, AUKUS, will be for the US and UK to supply Australia with technology to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

Ardern told the 1pm Covid briefing that New Zealand opting out a nuclear-powered submarines proposal did not change this country's Five Eyes role.

It would be very clear to Australia why New Zealand would not wish to be part of that project, she said.

New Zealand had made an extraordinary investment in assets within the Defence Force, Ardern said, and she "pushes back" on any sentiment that New Zealand is doing anything less that "its bit".

The US, UK and Australia, plus New Zealand and Canada, are also part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and the five countries have been widening their areas of co-operation.

New Zealand's position in relation to the prohibition of nuclear-powered vessels in our waters remains unchanged, Ardern said.

She said she discussed the arrangement with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last night.

"Australia's arrangement with the US and the UK is primarily around technology and defence hardware, with the centrepiece being the purchase of nuclear submarines by Australia.

"This arrangement in no way changes our security and intelligence ties with these three countries, as well as Canada."

She said New Zealand was first and foremost a nation of the Pacific and it viewed foreign policy developments through the lens of what was in the best interest of the region.

"We welcome the increased engagement of the UK and US in the region and reiterate our collective objective needs to be the delivery of peace and stability and the preservation of the international rules-based system."

The pact, which was announced this morning, will be signed in New York next week by Scott Morrison, Joe Biden and Boris Johnson at the United Nations' leaders' week.

Jacinda Ardern: Photo: NZ Herald
Jacinda Ardern: Photo: NZ Herald
Ardern will not be attending because of the Covid-19 outbreak. She has been asked for comment on the new pact.

Australia and the United States are already close allies through the 70-year Anzus pact from which New Zealand was suspended in 1985 over its policy against nuclear-powered and armed ships.

But New Zealand attracted a lot of criticism in April when Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta told reporters that New Zealand did not want to rely on Five Eyes for criticising China in joint statements.

Canada has been left out of the new pact but it is in the middle of an election campaign and its views are not yet known.

Australia has already embarked on a massive upgrade plan of its defence capabilities with a possible conflict with China in mind. It is holding discussion with the United States to establish its own missile-building industry using US technology.

Britain is expanding its military presence globally as part of its post-Brexit plans and the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth II is on its maiden voyage in Asia.

The New Zealand frigate Te Kaha and tanker Aotearoa left port last week to join it for military exercises.

Scott Morrison today described AUKUS as "a next-generation partnership, built on a strong foundation of proven trust".

"We have always seen the world through a similar lens."

He said it was "a partnership that seeks to engage, not to exclude. To contribute, not take. And to enable and empower, not to control or coerce."

He also said AUKUS would enhance Australia's contribution to its growing network of partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region: "Anzus, our Asean friends, our bilateral strategic partners, the Quad, Five Eyes countries and, of course, our dear Pacific family".

The joint statement by Morrison, Biden and Johnson announcing the new pact sets a timeframe of 18 months to deliver technology to Australia for nuclear-powered submarines.

"Today, we embark on a trilateral effort of 18 months to seek an optimal pathway to deliver this capability. We will leverage expertise from the United States and the United Kingdom, building on the two countries' submarine programmes to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date."

The statement also suggests that its key focus will be upgrade in capabilities.

"Recognising our deep defence ties, built over decades, today we also embark on further trilateral collaboration under AUKUS to enhance our joint capabilities and interoperability.

"These initial efforts will focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities."

The pact does not mention China by name but it suggests that it wants to work with other partners with a commitment to the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, which is commonly used language in denouncing aggression by China.

"As leaders of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, guided by our enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order, we resolve to deepen diplomatic, security, and defense co-operation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

"We will promote deeper information and technology sharing. We will foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains. And in particular, we will significantly deepen co-operation on a range of security and defence capabilities."


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When are we signing the pact with China?

Did we really opt out or, more likely, we are too close to China and they simply don't trust us to be a safe pair of hands.

Scott Morrison thinks the word is "nucular", how embarrassing. @ the other comments here do you seriously think that nuclear powered submarines are something our tiny nation could ever afford? They cost at least NZ$4.5 billion each.

I'd be surprised if Jacinda used the words "opt out" or if she did, it may have been in exasperation with some of our journos who suck words out of you that you clearly don't think.
NZ was never asked = because we don't have subs & never will have DUH

ps the problem will be though that currently there are Aussie subs in our waters from time to time. This will change things for the Aussies.

I am quite happy that we opted out. Why should we support a military alliance with the likes of the USA, UK, and Oz?
Let's never forget how we shabbily we were treated by the USA, and still are, after we went nuclear free. Especially considering we backed them in the Vietnam war (not to mention every other escapade they've taken since then). Also The UK. They abandoned us when they eagerly joined up with Europe, totally disregarding the fact that we provided them with canon fodder and were their food basket for two world wars. And Oz, look at how insultingly they treat our citizens resident in their country over the last decade or so, plus they sent their terrorist to us without any warning he needed to be watched.
And on top of that all three of them knew the French were going to bomb a ship in Auckland harbour on 10 July 1985 and deliberately decided against giving us a heads up, or intervening on our behalf.
Yes China is assertive about demonstrating its muscle power in our part of the world - but this AUKUS (rhymes with DORKUS) is no better.

I understand a stance against Nuclear weapons, but not Nuclear power. For much of the Western world it will probably be Nuclear power that is the only option to provide electricity without burning coal, oil or gas.

The pretence of nuclear-free despite the significant amount of radioactive material in nearly every medical facility is a continuation of the luddite nature of new wave green-speak that opposes most new sciences and techniques.

NZ pontificates on gene modification banning it here ... and then happily accepts the Covid vaccine that uses mRNA to prompt your body to produce spike proteins to create anti-bodies. So kill science here due to luddite thinking but it's OK when it's done offshore?

Why is Nuclear power a bad thing? Because Lange said so in an amusing way? Time for a massive rethink on these anti-science stances.

I don’t necessarily disagree with your argument that NZ should rethink its nuclear free status but I get the impression that you do not fully understand the over 50 years of history behind the current law/policy and I reject your contention that our current situation is anti science.
The big science problem with nuclear is what to do with the waste? I guess we could sell it to Iraq or Iran or perhaps Afghanistan. They’d probably be happy to take it off our hands for an excellent price. There is also the little scientific issue of what we do in a high risk earthquake, volcanic, tsunami zone. What happened in Japan could easily happen here, not to mention Chernobyl.
But if we were to go nuclear I would suggest locating the power station in the vicinity of the viaduct in Auckland. Outside of Tiwai they need the power most.

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