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Cosying up to US will increase terrorist threat

Cosying up to US will increase terrorist threat on NZ

A former Australian soldier and intelligence analyst, who resigned over the war in Iraq, has this morning warned that cosying up to the US would increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks in New Zealand.

The Green Party has brought former Australian Defence Force Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wilkie to New Zealand to highlight the threat to New Zealand of diluting our independent foreign policy and nuclear-free status, as National is proposing. Mr Wilkie, Green Co-Leader Rod Donald and Green Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke are holding a press conference in Auckland this morning.

"Cosying up to the United States would compromise the independence of your country's foreign policy at the expense of New Zealand's national interest," Mr Wilkie says. "It would also compromise New Zealand's security significantly.

"New Zealand is fortunate enough to currently not be at risk of any conventional threat. However, relying again on a US umbrella would make New Zealand a nuclear target again and the likelihood of a terrorist attack against New Zealand interests - in New Zealand and offshore - would increase."

Mr Wilkie said diluting New Zealand's anti-nuclear position would have significant consequences for our country.

"The cost to New Zealand's anti-nuclear position would be dramatic. The United States would demand visits by nuclear-propelled ships, but never disclose honestly whether they are nuclear armed. Given Bush's determination to develop new tactical nuclear weapons, it's reasonable to assume that ships coming to New Zealand would carry such devices.

"No nuclear-propulsion can be considered safe. All such ships are potential targets for terrorist attacks, as has happened in the past with the USS Cole off Yemen in 2000 and the USS Ashland off Jordan in the past few days."

Mr Donald said Mr Wilkie's comments should help put foreign policy at the heart of the election campaign.

"Not only is Dr Brash being cavalier with our international reputation, he's also playing Russian roulette with Kiwi lives.

"Don Brash has indicated that, under National, New Zealand's anti-nuclear status could be diluted in an effort to get a free-trade agreement with the United States. Mr Wilkie's expert testimony has made it very clear that a National Government under Brash's direction would make Kiwis less safe at home and abroad.

"If our nuclear legislation was gone by lunchtime in an effort to cosy up to the Americans, our proud reputation as a committed opponent to nuclear proliferation would be trawled through the mud and Kiwis would become terrorist targets overnight."

Mr Locke said, "We would be stupid to throw away our world standing as a leading anti-nuclear campaigner for no proven benefit."

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