New Zealand’s decision to exclude nuclear weapons from its territory, and the American response to that decision, have raised serious questions about the character and management of the ANZUS (Australia-New Zealand-United States) alliance and the security of the South Pacific.
New Zealand’s zone of direct strategic interest covers a vast area stretching from the Equator to Antarctica. It is nearly all sea. The inhabited part of this region consists mainly of small democratic island states, which control huge, potentially resource-rich, maritime economic zones. The vast distances separating countries in the region have in the past inhibited closer regional cooperation.
New Zealand’s physical isolation, however, has not produced an isolationist outlook. As a small, predominantly agricultural economy, vitally dependent upon foreign trade and susceptible to the ebb and flow in the economic fortunes of our trading partners, New Zealand has a major interest in ensuring a stable and prosperous trading environment worldwide. New Zealand has been firmly committed to the concept of collective security, advocating and enthusiastically supporting efforts to institute through the United Nations workable and effective mechanisms for collective security on a global scale. As those initial hopes and expectations for effective collective security proved illusory, New Zealand also sought to protect its security by engaging the interest of powerful allies.
Fear of Japanese resurgence after World War II led New Zealand to seek a formal security arrangement with Australia and the United States in 1951. Circumstances obviously have altered since then. Yet New Zealand’s relationship with the United States remains a critical preoccupation. The new factor in that relationship is the view of the New Zealand government that the security of New Zealand requires the exclusion from its territory of all nuclear weapons.
Over recent years, there has been growing concern in New Zealand about the intrusion of elements of the global nuclear confrontation into the South Pacific. The Labour government which came to power last July was in tune with its predecessors in wishing
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