New Zealand to study proposal to partially join AUKUS alliance
Sydney, Australia, Mar 28 (EFE).- New Zealand will study a proposal to partially join the AUKUS defense alliance – comprising the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia – for an exchange of information and technology while steering clear of its nuclear aspect, the country’s defense minister, Andrew Little, said on Tuesday.
The pact, under which Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines, has a “second pillar” whereby the partners collaborate on the development of quantum and hypersonic technologies, robotics and artificial intelligence, among others, as well as the exchange of information that allows them to operate in complex military contexts.
“We have been offered the opportunity to talk about whether we could or wish to participate in that pillar two [non-nuclear] aspect of it. I’ve indicated we will be willing to explore it,” Little said in a brief statement sent to EFE
The New Zealand minister’s remarks come after the recent visit of the US national security coordinator for the Indo-Pacific region, Kurt Campbell, to the country.
During his visit, Campbell said that the door was open for Wellington to join AUKUS to collaborate on cutting-edge technology.
Joining the AUKUS pact is a thorny issue for New Zealand, which has maintained a strict anti-nuclear policy since 1987 following the sinking – two years earlier – of Greenpeace’s ship, Rainbow Warrior, which was in the port of Auckland to protest against the nuclear tests that France carried out in the Pacific.
The denuclearization policy of New Zealand – which together with Canada, Australia, the US and the UK is part of the Five Eyes security and intelligence alliance – led to tensions and the end of security agreements with the US.
Under the AUKUS agreement, signed in September 2021 to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines, something that New Zealand has publicly criticized. EFE