New Zealand Considers Potential Cooperation with AUKUS Security Pact

New Zealand evaluates joining AUKUS security pact, but Foreign Minister says they're far from deciding, as they weigh potential benefits and risks to their independent foreign policy.

Nitish Verma
New Update
New Zealand Considers Potential Cooperation with AUKUS Security Pact

New Zealand Considers Potential Cooperation with AUKUS Security Pact

New Zealand's government is evaluating potential cooperation with the AUKUS security pact, but Foreign Minister Winston Peters says the country is far from being able to decide on this matter. The AUKUS pact, formed in 2021 by the United States, Britain, and Australia, aims to counter China's growing influence in the Asia Pacific region.

The first stage of AUKUS focuses on delivering nuclear-powered attack submarines to Australia, while the second pillar involves sharing advanced technologies among the member nations. Peters stated that before New Zealand could look at participating in the second pillar, the AUKUS members would need to want New Zealand to participate, which has not yet happened.

Why this matters: New Zealand's potential involvement in the AUKUS pact could have significant implications for the country's foreign policy and security stance in the Asia Pacific region. As a small nation, New Zealand must carefully balance its relationships with major powers while maintaining its independence and anti-nuclear principles.

New Zealand has become increasingly vocal about security risks in the Pacific, but there are domestic critics who warn that joining AUKUS would undermine the country's independent foreign policy and impact its anti-nuclear status. Peters criticized these critics, arguing that their "anti-Americanism" is outdated and that it would be "irresponsible" for New Zealand not to consider the implications of the technological advances under AUKUS.

However, Peters acknowledged that the precondition of being invited by the AUKUS partners has not yet been met, and New Zealand is still examining the scope of the second pillar and seeking a more detailed understanding of what it involves. The minister emphasized the importance of foreign policy bipartisanship for New Zealand's interests and security.

Peters explained that the Labour government had initiated discussions on Pillar 2 in 2021, and the current coalition government is continuing that process. He outlined several potential benefits of participating in Pillar 2, including ensuring the country's defense capabilities remain compatible with its ally Australia. However, Peters also acknowledged that the government is carefully considering the economic and security implications before making any decisions.

In his remarks, Peters stated, "The government needs to carefully examine what New Zealand has to offer and what it could take away from the pact before making any decisions." He criticized the "close-mindedness" of the opposition Labour Party and urged for bipartisanship in foreign policy, noting that much of the political outrage about Pillar 2 has come from critics who lack the basic facts about the arrangement.

Key Takeaways

  • NZ evaluating potential AUKUS cooperation, but no decision yet.
  • AUKUS aims to counter China's influence in Asia Pacific.
  • NZ participation in AUKUS' second pillar requires invitation from members.
  • Domestic critics warn AUKUS would undermine NZ's independent foreign policy.
  • NZ govt examining AUKUS' economic and security implications before deciding.