US NZ business as normal finally?

October 30th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

In an amiable press conference at the Pentagon, the New Zealand Defence Minister, Jonathan Coleman, handed his American counterpart  an All Blacks jersey – and a three-decade military chill between the two nations appeared to be consigned to history.

US secretary of defence Chuck Hagel told reporters: “Today, I authorised a New Zealand navy ship to dock at Pearl Harbor… This will be the first time a New Zealand navy ship will have visited Pearl Harbor in more than 30 years.”

In fact it will be the first since the New Zealand government refused to allow a US destroyer to dock in its ports in 1984.

It’s taken a long time, but I’m glad we’re finally worked out a way to be good allies, despite a disagreement on NZ’s anti-nuclear policy.

Australia on ANZUS

January 1st, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley at NZ Herald reports on some interesting Australian views during the US and NZ stand off on nuclear ships.

“Several Nato and Asean countries have said to us that, while disturbed by New Zealand’s policies, they regard the Americans as having over-reacted and as running the risk of creating a ‘laager’ mentality in New Zealand,” it said.

This is basically correct. The NZ policy was wrong, yet the US reaction was over the top.

Canberra did not accept New Zealand’s belief that it was not affected by a global superpower threat and that regional security did not require a nuclear capability.

With more than 40 per cent of its combat ships nuclear-powered – and “almost all would assuredly be nuclear-capable” – the US could not be expected to maintain two navies, one for global security and another for regional stability.

A fair view.

The Cabinet was reminded that the (former) Soviet Union was trying to gain a foothold in the Pacific and had turned New Zealand’s policies to its propaganda advantage.

The USSR was delighted by the anti-nuclear policy. It weakened the western alliance, and gave them hope the West would crumble. As it turned out, it was the USSR which crumbled as it was unable to keep pace with the West.

Stupid US

July 5th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Petty, petulant and pathetic. What other conclusion is it possible to draw from the absurd, vindictive and ultimately short-sighted refusal by the United States military to allow two New Zealand naval vessels to berth at the Pearl Harbour military base?

Having invited New Zealand to participate in the Rimpac exercises off Hawaii for the first time in nearly three decades, the Pentagon then slaps this country in the face by making the frigate Te Kaha and the refuelling ship Endeavour tie up at civilian port facilities in Honolulu.

They invite us. and then say we have to park down the road. Some Pentagon bozo should receive a visit from Hillary Clinton and told to pull their head in.

John Key should have ignored the diplomatic niceties and gone with gut feeling. He should have pointed out that resolving the anti-nuclear impasse has not come without cost for New Zealand. A terse brief statement including the words “New Zealand”, “Afghanistan” and “sacrifice” would have not have gone amiss.

Key has to be diplomatic, but it does piss me off that we do have soldiers fighting and dying in Afghanistan. and the USG is fixated on an almost 30 year old issue.

This tawdry episode smells very much like the revenge of the United States Navy, the branch of the American military machine most affected by New Zealand’s ban on nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered warships and consequently the one most averse to resolving the subsequent two decades-plus stand-off.

The berthing ban is even more ridiculous given other Rimpac participants include Japan which almost destroyed the American Pacific fleet based at Pearl Harbour some 70 years ago. 


I know Ambassador Huebner is the US representative to New Zealand, and not vice-versa. I do hope however he reports back on how insensitive the US decision was, and counter-productive.

Armstrong on ship visits

April 15th, 2010 at 6:55 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Still waters run deep when it comes to the public’s attachment to New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy. Just how deep could be plumbed by this week’s misinterpretation – deliberate in some instances – of a few innocuous remarks by Sir Geoffrey Palmer about the desirability of an American naval vessel soon visiting a New Zealand port. …

Sir Geoffrey’s statement that a port visit would be “desirable” was rapidly translated on both sides of the political fence as him arguing for a change in the anti-nuclear law.

I never thought it meant that.

He was certainly not advocating any change to the anti-nuclear policy. He doesn’t need to do so. Whether the Americans send ships here is purely a matter of their choosing. That has been the case for the past 19 years.

In 1991, the US removed all nuclear weapons from its surface naval vessels, confining such firepower to ballistic nuclear missiles on its nuclear-powered submarines. Along with those submarines, other surface vessels – principally aircraft carriers – were still shut out by New Zealand’s tandem ban on nuclear-powered vessels.

The upshot was that all the Prime Minister had to do to determine if a ship could enter New Zealand’s coastal waters was to consult Jane’s Fighting Ships, the reference bible on the world’s navies.

The point I made yesterday.

What is really at stake here, however, is the mending of the extensive military ties between Washington and Wellington which existed before the bust-up of Anzus in the 1980s.

The restoration of such links is hotly opposed in some political quarters. The easiest way to try to stop that happening is to scare the public into thinking the anti-nuclear policy is under threat. Sir Geoffrey unwittingly provided the platform for others to do that.

In other words a bout of scare-mongering.

Espiner on nukes

April 14th, 2010 at 6:09 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner blogs:

New Zealand is, according to Key, happy to lend its anti-nuclear credentials in support of Obama’s bid to stop nuclear arms from falling into the hands of terrorists.

It’s possibly a bit late for that, and possibly a little hypocritical, given that the US is the only country in the world ever to have used nuclear weapons against other people.

Ummm. Is Colin really equating the US use of nuclear weapons to force a Japanese surrender in WWII, to terrorists using nukes?

If not, then what is the hypocrisy?

Which brings me to my question. What was Sir Geoffrey Palmer doing at the weekend, calling for US navy ships to be allowed back into New Zealand ports? Can we really have our anti-nuclear cake and eat it, too?

The part of me that always felt proud at our nuclear-free stance and the speech David Lange delivered so beautifully all those years ago to the Oxford Union (you remember, the one about “uranium on the breath”) blanched at Sir G’s suggestion.

I don’t see why. Sir Geoffrey was not advocating a change in the law.

So was Sir Geoffrey right after all? As one of the architects of the legislation, it was a big call for him to say it’s time to let bygones be bygones.

But I suspect that such a policy change would be difficult to implement without changing the nuclear free law. For us to accept ship visits we would need to ascertain that they were nuclear-free and to do that they would need to tell us – and I’m pretty sure they never will.

No they do not need to tell us. Section 9(2) of the Act states:

The Prime Minister may only grant approval for the entry into the internal waters of New Zealand by foreign warships if the Prime Minister is satisfied that the warships will not be carrying any nuclear explosive device upon their entry into the internal waters of New Zealand.

That does not mean the PM has to ask about a specific ship. General statements that no surface ships currently carry nuclear weapons can be deemed sufficient to satisfy the PM.

Editorials 13 April 2010

April 13th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald warms up on nukes:

Who would have thought even a few short years ago that the New Zealand Prime Minister would be on the guest list for the nuclear security summit hosted by the President of the United States in Washington? John Key’s presence offers further evidence that the anti-nuclear rift of the 1980s is all but mended. It may be too soon for a resumption of visits to New Zealand ports by American warships, but there is an undoubted resonance between this country’s anti-nuclear law and President Barack Obama’s long-time commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons.

Indeed. And while I doubt we will ever rid the world of nuclear weapons, I will be glad to see a lot less of them.

A constant grievance of non-nuclear nations has been that, while the non-proliferation treaty denied them the right to acquire nuclear arms, those countries with such weaponry seemed to regard its retention as their right. The importance of President Obama’s initiatives, and those of Russia, is that they illustrate a change of attitude by the pair, which possess more than 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons between them. Their move towards disarmament provides, in turn, a greater moral authority to address examples of proliferation, real and potential, whether the likes of Iran’s nuclear programme or nuclear weaponry becoming part of the arsenal of terrorists.

In this area, I think Obama’s policies have been sound, It is hard to preach restraint to the rest of the world, while not doing anything to reduce your own arsenal.

President Obama said last week that nuclear terrorism posed a graver threat than the risk of war between nuclear nations. He is undoubtedly right, and the crafting of a pact to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of groups like al Qaeda will be a focus in Washington.

Stopping Iran from developing them would be a good start to that.

The Press also talks nuclear, but ore on ships:

Passage of the nuclear-free legislation in 1987 marked New Zealand as a nation prepared to take an independent stance on the world stage.

This stand did win friends, especially in Europe, but it also came at a cost. It led to a defence freeze with the United States, including an end to US navy ship visits. But with Prime Minister John Key now attending a nuclear summit in Washington, it is inevitable that a resumption of visits should be mooted, in this case by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, an architect of the nuclear-free law.

Renewed visits by US navy vessels would be a logical step in the thawing of the defence freeze with our former ally and would not require a change to the present anti-nuclear law.

Yep. No law change needed. Of course the Greens will still protest it, but they protest almost everything about the US.

It is possible that the nuclear propulsion issue will be revisited in the future. But this is likely to be in the context of nuclear power generation, especially if other electricity sources, such as hydro and wind turbines, continue to be beset by opposition to their location, and the security of power supply is seriously threatened.

Actually nuclear power is not particularly practical for New Zealand, but I agree it should be an option. Much better than coal!

The Dominion Post focuses on Justice Wilson:

Justice,” a former lord chief justice of England said, “should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”

Manifestly that has not been the case in the long-running, and convoluted, dispute between the former Wool Board and a group of woolgrowers that found its way to the Court of Appeal in 2007.

One of the judges who considered the case, Bill Wilson, was a close friend and business partner of Wool Board counsel Alan Galbraith, QC. Justice Wilson disclosed their shared ownership of a racehorse or racehorses to counsel for the woolgrowers and, if his recollections are accurate, their shared ownership of a horse stud. But for reasons that are now presumably costing him a great deal of sleep, he did not disclose that he owed Mr Galbraith almost $250,000. Nor did he disclose the debt to colleagues in the Supreme Court when they considered an appeal from the growers in March last year. In fact, he led the court to believe he was not beholden to Mr Galbraith in any way. …

Justice Wilson is a well-liked and well-regarded legal practitioner who has added a dose of common sense to the bench. However, in this instance his judgment has failed him completely.

By neglecting to fully inform the growers’ counsel of his links with Mr Galbraith, he has not only damaged his own reputation, but that of the highest court in the land.

The operation of the justice system relies upon public confidence in those who administer it. New Zealand is a small country. Inevitably, there will be friendships between judges and lawyers, and lawyers and lawyers. The public knows that lawyers who one day are verbally brawling in court may the next be arguing in support of each other and that, on other occasions, they may be observed enjoying each other’s company in social settings.

That is reasonable. Members of the legal profession are not expected to carry professional enmities over to private life and judges are not expected to sever all personal ties on being elevated to the bench. However, for public trust in the system to be maintained, all conflicts and potential conflicts of interest have to be properly disclosed.

And that lack of disclosure, especially to his Supreme Court colleagues, may extract a heavy price.

But such processes take time. In the meantime, the reputation of the judiciary is being compromised.

At the very least Justice Wilson should have stepped aside from his duties, when the case was referred to the judicial commissioner. When he did not do so, Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias should have stood him down.

I disagree. A mere investigation by the JCC should not require a Judge to stand down. However if the JCC recommends a complaints panel be established, then a stand down would be appropriate.

And the ODT also talks nuclear:

A year ago, President Obama announced his plans for a world without nuclear weapons, expressing a hope rather than any rational expectation, but nevertheless a plea for disarmament that was widely welcomed.

This week he signed the “New Start” treaty with Russia, under which both powers will reduce their nuclear arsenals, while still deploying 1550 warheads each. …

Perhaps the true significance of these measures is to compare the situation with that which existed before 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed: at that time each side deployed more than 20,000 strategic warheads.

I remember those days well. At school we saw films about nuclear war, and around half of my generation though a global nuclear war was likely in our life time.

The collapse of the Soviet Empire was a wonderful thing.

Two ironies

April 13th, 2010 at 6:34 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key says he was invited to the United States nuclear security summit in Washington because President Barack Obama recognised the importance of New Zealand’s anti-nuclear position.

Irony No 1 is that after 25 years of the anti-nuclear law keeping NZ on the outer in Washington, it is now being seen by the US President as a positive.

Irony No 2 is that the beneficiary of Irony No 1 is not the party that introduced the law, but the party that has spent most of the last 25 years trying to work out ways to amend it.

Politics is full of ironies.

Palmer calls for US ships to visit

April 10th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at the Dom Post reports:

A driving force behind New Zealand’s nuclear-free legislation, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, says it is time for United States Navy ships to return to our waters.

As Prime Minister John Key heads to Washington for a summit which seeks to rid the world of nuclear weapons, Sir Geoffrey said ship visits would not breach New Zealand’s anti-nuclear laws. The return of the US Navy was not only possible “but desirable”.

Now that NZ ships have visted the US for the first time in 25 years, a return visit makes sense.

There are very few US ships that would be unable to visit, under our legislation.

Some aircraft carriers are nuclear powered, but generally they would not visit anyway – we are too far out of the way, and they are too big for some of our ports to handle. A pity, in a way, as I’d love to tour one.

The other are some of the US submarine fleet. But many of the subs don’t do port visits anyway as their job is to sit at the bottom of the ocean, with some missiles pointed towards North Korea.

So I’m all for a visit by a US ship, just as Canadian, Australian, British and Japanense ships visit here also.

Putting country ahead of party

October 13th, 2009 at 10:22 am by David Farrar

Readers will have seen the reports that the United States has lifted the ban on full intelligence sharing with New Zealand. The ban on joint exercises is almost all but gone. After almost 25 long years, the relationship is almost restored.

The praise for this should go not just to the current Government, but Opposition Leader Phil Goff and Trade Spokesperson Maryan Street who have been with McCully and Groser in Washington DC.

Despite the politics before the last election, I understand that the Opposition and Government have been posing a united front, and have made clear that no matter what happens in future elections, NZ will not be amending its anti-nuclear law. The Opposition did not suggest it will be gone by lunchtime, but that it has bi-partisan support and is a reality, so it should no longer be a barrier to the relationship.

This, combined with Obama’s own rhetoric about ridding the world of nuclear weapons, has led to a significant warming of relations on the military and intelligence fronts.

So praise, where praise is due. Congrats to Goff and Street for putting the country ahead of their party, and helping enable the Government and US Government to move closer together.

Will NZ support nuclear proliferation?

August 14th, 2008 at 9:06 am by David Farrar

A interesting test is coming of Labour’s rhetoric on nuclear issues? They campaign relentlessly against all things nuclear. They say they want the world to go anti-nuclear.

Yet strangely, they appear to be on the verge of granting an exemption from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to India, due to pressure from the US and India.

Phil Goff himself says this will weaken the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, yet this is under active consideration.

Now imagine if this was a National Government in office. Labour would probably be denouncing the Government for its lust for uranium and demanding we veto any waiver.

So this will be an interesting test for Labour – will its anti-nuclear rhetoric be as hollow as its carbon neutrality rhetoric?