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Nuke free US ships already welcome

Written By: - Date published: 6:13 pm, April 10th, 2010 - 13 comments
Categories: defence, us politics - Tags: ,

Geoffrey Palmer needs a holiday. It’s bad enough that he’s acting as the mouthpiece for John Key’s pro-whaling policy that has the Japanese applauding and our allies shaking their heads in dismay. Now, he’s saying we should encourage visits by US naval vessels.

‘What’s so dumb about that?’ you may ask. Well, the US navy is welcome now, if they are willing to pledge that the ships they send are nuclear-free in keeping with our anti-nuclear legislation.

Here’s why US ships can’t visit New Zealand. It’s not because we banned all US ships, it’s because we banned ones that the US wouldn’t confirm are nuclear-free.

After the anti-nuke legislation was passed, the US asked permission for the Buchanan to visit us. The advice to the government was that the Buchanan was from a conventionally-powered class and unlikely to be equipped with nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, the government quite rightly asked the US to confirm that the Buchanan would not be nuclear-equipped. They refused to do so.

Now, what were we supposed to do? Let in a ship from a nuclear power that opposed our anti-nuke policy when that power wouldn’t promise that the ship was nuclear-free? Even though the odds of the Buchanan having nuclear weapons on board were low why should we have to make that assumption? If the US refuses to confirm or deny which ships are nuke-equipped, well good for them, but they can’t come here in that case.

If the US wants to send navy ships for a visit (and I’m not quite sure what anyone really gets out of that, the days of the Great White Fleet are long gone) then all it has to do is what other nuclear powers like the UK do: confirm that the vessels it sends don’t breach our country’s laws.

Is that too much to ask?

13 comments on “Nuke free US ships already welcome”

  1. Zorr 1

    Agreed. Is it too much to ask that an ally treats us as such rather than as a frenemy. I can’t imagine the war that we fight where we are opposing them – unless they give birth to the next populist mass murdering sociopathic leader.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Worked that out ages ago. Figured that the only reason NZ needed a navy was to watch fishing vessels in our EEC. Anything other than that and the ships are little more than targets for things like this. The same applies to aircraft.

      If we want to defend this country then we should be researching and developing our own* long range missiles. They’re reasonably cheap and very very effective.

      * It’s difficult to import through hostile territory

  2. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    The US Navy is the one stonewalling on this. Partly because they are practically a law unto themselves as regards the Pacific Command run out of Hawaii and because of their semi secret breaking of the ‘no nukes’ constitution of Japan.
    We all know that surface ships , apart from aircraft carriers no longer carry nuclear weapons, this being stated by the President. However they dont wont ( still) to confirm or deny in relation to individual ships – in case the President makes a secret policy change or the Navy as it has allways done , suits itself.
    Most likely to come would be a amphibous vessel carry say 300-600 US Marines, as they need port vists more so than the ordinary crews. No nukes as they are mainly troop transports ( with some helicopters).
    Changes of this – not likely unless Obama cracks some heads. But he has bigger issues, so the Pacific Command head continues to run the show

  3. prism 4

    Yes I was surprised to hear him say that we should change policy to allow US ships into our ports – I would have thought he would know that we only ever wanted to keep nuclear powered or weaponed ships out. The US didn’t want to be up front and honest about which were or not, and refused to advise so forcing us to deny entry.
    Lots of disrespect to us as smaller country. And iron determination to conduct dangerous strategic maneouvres. Compare to the treatment and checks that we endure individually when we set foot on their ground now.

    • prism 4.1

      Further – can’t edit my original post – should read ‘And iron determination by USA to conduct dangerous strategic maneouvres.”

      [lprent: It is off because it occasionally sends someone else’s edits out of the cache. I’m trying to figure what is going on in my test setup. In the meantime it is off. ]

  4. Jim Nald 5

    He was the Labour PM in 1989/1990. What is the Labour Party’s position now?

    Is he speaking for the Left, the Labour Party, John Key … or for himself?

    Interesting public statements he has been making lately. Are these manifestations of a late-onset mid-life crisis?

  5. From TVNZ citing of NZPA article: “Palmer says that ship visits from the US are “desirable”, if they conform with New Zealand law.
    Under New Zealand legislation, the Prime Minister has to approve the fact that any warship that comes in is not carrying any nuclear explosive device, and is not nuclear-powered.
    “I’m not suggesting that that be changed,” he says.”

    About time you guys smartened up a bit: this post seems quite off-centre from my reading of the news story. On a par with yesterday’s posting about Winston’s massive leap in the polls.
    How about a bit more muscle and sinew in the debate?

    • r0b 6.1

      Top right hand side of every page is a fetching green button marked “contribute post”…

      • lprent 6.1.1

        Which currently is missing its form. Due back in a couple of days.

        Been writing plugins and optimizing all weekend (since we won’t be on a new server for a wee while at the rate we’re going).

  6. Pascal's bookie 7

    Key ‘s unexpected meeting at the White House forced him to leave for Washington early, he flies in from San Francisco, where he has been holidaying, just hours ahead of the meeting and is also scheduled to meet US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

    Bloody Whitehouse intruding on smile and wave’s lifestyle options again.

  7. Don 8

    “From TVNZ citing of NZPA article: “Palmer says that ship visits from the US are “desirable’, if they conform with New Zealand law.
    Under New Zealand legislation, the Prime Minister has to approve the fact that any warship that comes in is not carrying any nuclear explosive device, and is not nuclear-powered.
    “I’m not suggesting that that be changed,’ he says.'”

    I saw Palmer being interviewed on TV and he pretty much stated the current position. Sort of expect TV to manufacture dissent for their News at six, but haven’t you got better things to do than echo it?

  8. RobertM 9

    The USN still has 25 odd quarter century old FFG-7 frigates floating around the Pacific visiting nations that are less than allies, eg |Vietnam and its difficult to know why these old tubs did not make a good will visit to NZ long ago. Their largely disarmed their standard missiles being removed long ago. The same goes for the many USCG cutters which are defacto frigates. Most of the comment on this nuclear issue fails to differentiate sufficiently. Fundamentally their are two kinds of nuclear submarines, the ones that fire strategic long rang e intercontinental missiles and the ones that hunt the ballistic missile submarines. A number of hunter killer nuke submarines did visit NZ in l983 -84 Queenfish, Phoenix and in l960 a nuclear armed cruise missile sub the |Halibut visited invited by one Walter Nash. Government information on the US military vessels that visited NZ is rather incomplete. In l981 one of the United States most modern guided missile anti submarine destroyers of the Spruance class visited the USN oldendorf visited Timaru but that was listed. Some sort of US icebreaker made a short stop in Timaru in Jan 2005. Between 1965 and 1968 two USN destroyers were based in Dunedin for most of these years making numerous port calls. Given these picket destroyers were also required for aircraft direction and operation market time off Vietnam, remained active to 1973 and played a key role in the Cuban missile crisis their roles deserve more study- particularly given they by the mid l960s had radar and electronic surveillance equipment with ranges of 800km their presence as with the purchase of the \\\\\\\\\\orions partly related to the need to cover the potential for Russian and Chinese missile strikes against Australain installations. Obviously ship visits will not resume soon because of increasing tensiion over past nuclear ship visits to Japan and because NZ went a step furthur in passing its nuclear stand into legislation that empowers the NZ Govt to make emphatic declerations about the type of armament of a warship which to the Americans is a security breach. But yes whatever Act claims we were visited by nuclear submarines and nuclear aircraft carriers and to pharaphase Trotsky we havent seen the last of either war or nuclear powered warships. Unfortunately.

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