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 agreement is commonly regarded as a response to China’s expanding influence in the region.
“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 connection, including the Five Eyes, as well as our close engagement with Australia on defence matters,” she stated.
Ardern, who is in her second term, has sought to focus on a more autonomous foreign policy that is not beholden to any big group.
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has stated that she is concerned about growing the Five Eyes’ involvement, prompting criticism from Western friends who claim that New Zealand is hesitant to criticise China due to commercial relations.
China is New Zealand’s most important trading partner.