Vernon Small writes:
The New Zealand navy has issued an invitation to the United States to join in the navy’s 75th birthday celebrations next year, potentially ending the 30-year freeze on military ship visits here.
However, sources said while an invitation had been issued, it was not yet clear that a ship would visit. It could be some other “asset” from the US Navy.
New Zealand’s nuclear free policy, enacted in 1985, bans nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ships from entering ports here. The law change saw New Zealand suspended from membership of the three-power Anzus alliance with the US and Australia.
While the law requires the prime minister to confirm, to his satisfaction, that any ships are not nuclear armed or powered, it has in practice always required the US to drop their “neither confirm nor deny policy”.
The US has made it clear surface vessels are not nuclear armed, and it will be easy to ascertain from public records whether it is nuclear powered.
I hope they do visit. 99% of the world knows their surface vessels are not nuclear powered or armed. Having the NZ Government make a determination of the obvious is not a security issues. Time for the impasse to end – especially as NZ forces have worked with US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.