| 22 February 2024, Thursday |

NZ says Australia’s new nuclear submarines must stay out of its waters

Under a long-standing nuclear-free policy, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated on Thursday that Australia’s new nuclear-powered submarines will not be allowed in its territorial seas.

The United States and Britain will give Australia with the technology and capabilities to deploy nuclear-powered submarines under a new Indo-Pacific strategic alliance unveiled by US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The Indo-Pacific pact is widely perceived as a response to China’s expanding regional power.

“I discussed the arrangement with Prime Minister Morrison last night,” Ardern said at a news conference.

“I am pleased to see that the eye has been turned to our region from partners we work closely with. It’s a contested region and there is a role that others can play in taking an interest in our region. But the lens we will look at this from will include stability,” she said.

However, Ardern said the nuclear-powered submarines would not be allowed in New Zealand waters under a 1984 nuclear-free zone policy.

“Certainly they couldn’t come into our internal waters.

No vessels that are partially or fully powered by nuclear energy is able to enter our internal borders,” she said.

Ardern said the new Indo-Pacific grouping does not change the security and intelligence ties of New Zealand, which is a member of the Five Eyes, a post-war intelligence grouping that also includes the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada.

“This is not a treaty level arrangement. It does not change

our existing relationship including Five Eyes or our close partnership with Australia on defence matters,” she said.

Ardern, who is in her second term in office, has looked to focus on a more independent foreign policy that is not loyal to any major bloc.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has said she was uncomfortable with expanding the role of the Five Eyes, drawing criticism from Western allies who said New Zealand was reluctant to criticise China due to its trade ties.

China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner.

  • Reuters