New Zealand is not considering joining the first pillar of the AUKUS security alliance, which involves the supply of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said.
Mahuta and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a joint press conference in Wellington on Thursday, during which he said that “the door is very much open for New Zealand and other partners to engage [in the AUKUS], as they see appropriate.”
“And I’ve been quite clear in terms of New Zealand’s position on the AUKUS arrangements right from the beginning is that New Zealand is not prepared to compromise or change our nuclear framework position,” Mahuta was quoted as saying by the US Department of State.
Wellington remains committed to a nuclear-free Pacific, she added.
New Zealand Defense Minister Andrew Little echoed the same sentiment in June, saying that Wellington’s position on nuclear weapons was very firm and unlikely to change.
In September 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States announced the new trilateral AUKUS partnership. Australia announced its withdrawal from a $66 billion contract with France for 12 state-of-the-art conventionally powered attack submarines. The United States has vowed to bolster Australia’s military capabilities with nuclear-powered submarines.