NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand has confirmed that it will join the non-nuclear component of the Aukus partnership that was introduced by Australia, the UK, and the US. This comes a week after Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, met with important Chinese diplomats who were anxious about the military partnership between Australia, the UK, and the US, which includes Australia getting nuclear-powered navy submarines.
Mahuta, on her visit to Beijing last week, said that the officials from China had made their concerns crystal clear. She said, “Our concern is not to see the militarisation of the Pacific, that the treaty of Rarotonga is upheld, and that’s the basis upon which our assurances from Australia have been gained in relation to those arrangements.”
The three countries also agreed to share advanced military technologies like quantum computing and artificial intelligence. In light of its anti-nuclear stance, New Zealand had not been allowed to join pillar one.
New Zealand’s defence minister, Andrew Little, stated, “We have been offered the opportunity to talk about whether we could or wish to participate in that [non-nuclear] pillar two aspects of it,” adding, “I’ve indicated we will be willing to explore it.” According to Little, Aukus membership “could not compromise our legal obligations and our moral commitment to be nuclear-free”.
Little further said that this membership could be a kind of technology that could protect defence personnel. “Usually, it’s domain awareness, so it’s surveillance technology, and radio technology that allows us to do that,” he added.
Gerry Brownlee, New Zealand’s opposition foreign affairs spokesperson last week, doubted if the Aukus would create problems for Anzac forces to work together. Brownlee repeated, “Australia will make decisions for Australia”. New Zealand’s former prime minister, Helen Clark, opined that it was not in the government’s interest to have ties with Aukus.
Foreign or local opinions criticising the deal would not be a reason for the partnership. Little stated, “We as a country and the leaders of the day have to assess our long-term best interests in a rapidly changing world and rapidly changing region.”
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