New Zealand won’t change its policy on prohibition of nuclear-powered submarines, the country’s prime minister said on Thursday, as Australia joined the US and UK during a security pact to accumulate nuclear submarines.
“New Zealand’s position in reference to the prohibition of nuclear-powered vessels in our waters remains unchanged,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference within the capital Wellington, which was streamed life online.
She, however, added that the pact, to be referred to as AUKUS, “does not change anything for new Zealand” in its relations with these countries.
“Certainly, the (nuclear-powered) submarines couldn’t enter our waters,” Ardern replied to an issue. “That is that the position held by all (political) parties.”
Ardern said her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison “very well understands” New Zealand’s position on nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered submarines.
The UK, US, and Australia have announced the safety pact within the Indo-Pacific as China becomes increasingly assertive within the region.
Each of the nations’ leaders told a joint news conference that Australia’s yet-to-be-created fleet is going to be powered by nuclear reactors and can be armed with conventional munitions.
“Let me be clear: Australia isn’t seeking to accumulate nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability, and that we will still meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations,” the Australian premier said virtually alongside US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Earlier, Australia struck a multi-billion dollar effect on France to create 12 conventionally-powered submarines. With the new pact, that agreement appears to possess ended.
France has described the event as “contrary to the letter and therefore the spirit of the cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia.”
But Biden said Washington “looks forward to working with France and other key countries as we proceed .”
“France, especially, already features a substantial Indo-Pacific presence and maybe a key partner and ally in strengthening the safety and prosperity of the region,” he said.
AUKUS, Biden added, “will update, enhance our shared ability to require on the threats of the 21st century.”
The pact also will increase trilateral cooperation in cybersecurity, AI, quantum technologies, and other undersea capabilities, consistent with a joint statement.