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Cablegate: Govt Talks Up Us-Nz Relations During Anniversary

VZCZCXRO8838
RR RUEHNZ
DE RUEHWL #0450/01 1692328
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 182328Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4371
INFO RUEHNZ/AMCONSUL AUCKLAND 1354
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000450

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR D (FRITZ), EAP/FO, AND EAP/ANP
NSC FOR VICTOR CHA
SECDEF FOR OSD/ISD LIZ PHU
PACOM FOR J01E/J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV NZ
SUBJECT: GOVT TALKS UP US-NZ RELATIONS DURING ANNIVERSARY
OF ANTI-NUCLEAR LEGISLATION

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) In observing the 20th anniversary of New
Zealand's iconic anti-nuclear legislation, the Government
chose not to dwell on past tensions with the U.S. In a
testimony to how far the bilateral relationship has come
in recent years and how the anti-nuclear issue has lost
much of its political heat, NZ officials instead focused
on New ZealandQs efforts to address the proliferation of
nuclear weapons. PM Clark was also prominently quoted in
local media near the anniversary date as saying US-NZ
ties are the strongest they've been in two decades.
The New Zealand mediaQs response to the anniversary was
equally low key. Despite some rumblings from the
political fringes during the anniversary period, National
and other mainstream Parties reiterated their support for
the law's retention. End Summary.

Anniversary marked without much fanfare
--------------------- ------------------

2. (SBU) The 20th anniversary of the passing of the New
Zealand Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms
Control Act, colloquially known as the anti-nuclear
legislation, was marked by the current Labour Government
in a low-key manner. Most of the original draftees and
advocates of the anti-nuclear legislation remain in
Parliament today, among them PM Helen Clark and
Disarmament Minister Phil Goff, both junior MPs at the
time of the passing of the Act. They choose to
commemorate the anniversary with a small and informal
gathering in the office of the Prime Minister. The New
Zealand media also made relative light work of the
anniversary and it passed without much analysis,
commentary or opinion.

Govt focuses on proliferation
------------------------------
3. (SBU) During the anniversary period, the New Zealand
Government spoke warmly of the current state of U.S.
New Zealand relations. When asked by the media to sum up
relations with the U.S. during a recent visit to
Australia, Clark said that both countries had Qturned a
cornerQ. She noted that New Zealand and the U.S.
Qobviously had issues arising from the nuclear free
policyQ and Qfor a long time it's been a rock in the road
in the relationship between New Zealand and the States at
the governmental level.Q Yet, Clark observed that during
her trip to Washington in March this year she believed
that there was a mutual acknowledgement that Qa way could
be seen around the rock in the road."
4. (SBU) In reference to the anniversary, Goff issued a
statement to Parliament that focused on New ZealandQs
opposition to nuclear weapon proliferation and
participation in efforts designed to prevent the spread
of nuclear weapons. Goff said that the legislation is as
relevant today as when it was passed into law because
proliferation has grown as more countries have acquired
nuclear weapons and terrorists seek to acquire them.
Opposition pledges retention of anti-nuclear legislation
------------------- ------------------------------------
5. (SBU) In a speech to Parliament, Murray McCully, the
Foreign Affairs spokesman of the main Opposition National
Party, voiced support for the anti-nuclear legislation.
However, he also referred to the resulting effect the
legislation has had on the bilateral relationship and
called the continuing lack of a formal ally status with
the U.S Qthe unfinished business of the nuclear free
debate.Q In endorsing the legislation, McCully pledge to
work with the Government to improve New ZealandQs
relationship with the U.S which, he pointedly noted,
includes achieving a Free Trade Agreement. (Note. In the
past National did not easily embrace the anti-nuclear
legislation because of the adverse effect it had on the
New ZealandQs security arrangements. Until recently it
was unclear whether the National Party would retain the
legislation if in government. However, when John Key
became party leader in 2006 he moved quickly to make it
known that a National Government under his leadership
would retain the anti-nuclear legislation. End Note).

WELLINGTON 00000450 002 OF 002


Murmurings from the fringes
---------------------------
6. (SBU) Although the anniversary of the Act generally
received broad based political support it did not pass
without comment and critique from a couple of the minor
parties. The right-wing ACT Party suggested that the
legislation was outdated and that by retaining it New
Zealand is allowing relations with its traditional allies
to deteriorate. The Left-wing Green Party took the
opportunity to accuse the Government of hypocrisy for
allowing the New Zealand Super Fund - a retirement
investment fund established by the Labour Government in
2001 that accumulates and invests Government
contributions Q to invest in firms making nuclear weapons
technology, such as Northrop Grumman Corp.
7. Comment: (SBU) The anti-nuclear legislation remains
firmly embedded in New ZealandQs national psyche. It is
an iconic part of the countryQs political history and has
near full support throughout New Zealand (Even the
visiting Dalai Lama praised New ZealandQs nuclear free
stance). ACTQs argument that New Zealand anti-nuclear
position should be trashed is out of step with a growing
consensus in Parliament and in New Zealand society
itself.
8. (SBU) In previous years the Labour Government might
have used the occasion of the anniversary to focus on New
ZealandQs principled stand against the U.S. The fact that
the Government chose to focus instead on the warming of
the bilateral relationship and proliferation issues
demonstrates how much it wants to keep relations on their
improving track. End Comment
McCormick

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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