• In the 1960s and 70s the New Zealand government took a range of actions against nuclear testing: – Monitored radioactive fallout in Pacific nations (e.g. Cook Islands, Tokelau). – Signed a series of treaties limiting the spread of nuclear tests and material. – Took legal and direct action against the French tests at Mororoa Atoll (Prime Minister Kirk in 1973)
NZ concerns about the French testsPrime Minister Norman Kirk wasconcerned about the threat toNew Zealand’s exports.There were concerns aboutradioactive fallout reaching thefisheries and farmland of NewZealand. Any suspected dangercould damage valuable exports.
From legal action to direct actionActions taken in 1973– Prime Minister Kirk and the Australian government took France to the World Court.– They argued that New Zealand’s rights were being violated (broken) by the French tests.– The World Court agreed, and issued an injunction (ban) on any future atmospheric testing.– The French President Pompidou ignored the ban, arguing that French security depended on nuclear weapons and testing.
From legal action to direct actionDirect action– Greenpeace and other organisations had already been sending protest fleets into the test zone at Mororoa.– Following the French decision to ignore the World Court ban Prime Minister Kirk sent two frigates (the Otago and Canterbury) to escort a protest fleet.– The frigates included two cabinet ministers – Fraser Coleman and Matiu Rata.– The publicity resulted in global criticism of the French. In France some voters began to criticise their government’s policy.– In August 1974 France abandoned atmospheric testing and changed to underground testing.
Concerns about damage to Mororoa• Protest groups such as Greenpeace argued that the tests at Mororoa were damaging the atoll.• This would lead to radiation leaking into the Pacific.• A strong anti-nuclear movement began to build up in New Zealand.• This influenced the left-wing of the Labour Government.• Bill Rowling (who replaced Kirk after he died in 1974) suggested that the South Pacific become Nuclear Weapons Free Zone
American Concerns• America was concerned about Labour’s plans for a nuclear-weapons free South Pacific.• Australia, New Zealand and the United States had formed the ANZUS alliance in 1951.• The three countries promised to defend each other if threatened.• As part of the agreement American and New Zealand ships held exercises together.• American ships were nuclear-powered and capable of carrying nuclear weapons.• The United States had a ‘neither confirm nor deny’ policy – meaning that it wouldn’t say which ships carried nuclear weapons.• If nuclear weapons were banned from New Zealand then ANZUS would be threatened.
The Election of Robert Muldoon in 1975• Robert Muldoon won the 1975 election (partly because the Kirk government had stopped the Springbok team from touring).• His National government had a more traditional approach.• Muldoon did not want to offend the United States by pursuing Labour’s anti-nuclear free policy.• He also wanted to make sure that France continued to support New Zealand’s exports to Europe.• In the early 1970s European farmers were calling for NZ exports to be limited.• He ignored polls which showed that 70% of New Zealanders wanted a South Pacific nuclear-free zone
Protests against U.S. Ship visits• U.S. Ships had regularly visited New Zealand ports since 1951 (the start of ANZUS).• Robert Muldoon invited the United States to send nuclea vessels: • 1976: The U.S.S. Truxton and U.S.S. Longbeach • 1978: The U.S.S. Pintada (submarine) • 1979: The U.S.S. Haddo (submarine). • Between 1960 and 1984 150 ships had visited NZ!• The United States would neither CONFIRM NOR DENY that they carried nuclear weapons.• In spite of this protests grew. In 1976 the St Johns Theological College (where priests are trained) started organising flotillas of ships to meet the U.S. warships.
Growing support for nuclear-free policy National governed from 1975-1984. In that period support for a nuclear- free zone grew. • In March 1981 Devonport declared itself nuclear-free. • In 1982 the Catholic Bishop of NZ issued a statement opposing nuclear weapons. • In 1976 and 1982 Labour MP Richard Prebble introduced nuclear-free zone bills. • During 1983 37 local authorities declared themselves nuclear free.
The 1984 Election• Labour campaigned for a nuclear-free zone before the election.• National MP Marilyn Waring stated her support for the policy, threatening to reduce the government’s majority.• Prime Minister Muldoon – famously drunk at the time – called for a ‘snap’ (early election). He blamed Waring’s “feminist anti-nuclear stand”
Lange introduces a nuclear-free policy• In 1984 Prime Minister Lange led Labour to victory and introduced a nuclear-free policy.• Nuclear armed or powered ships were no longer allowed to enter New Zealand waters.• Lange assured voters that this could be achieved without threatening ANZUS.• In 1987 the Labour government passed the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act.• This made it illegal for New Zealanders to have any role in the making or use of
The Labour Policy was broadly popular.A poll in 1984 showedthat 58% of NewZealanders opposedvisits by nuclear-armedships. Anti nuclear badges from the 1980’s
Consequences for ANZUS• In 1984 approximately 40% of the U.S. fleet was nuclear powered.• The U.S.A. would not confirm which of their ships was nuclear-armed.• This strategy (neither confirm nor deny) was meant to make it harder for the U.S.S.R. to target the Americans nuclear weapons.• In September 1984 Lange said that he would welcome more ANZUS trials – as long as visiting ships were nuclear-free.
The Buchanan• In January 1985 the United States tested the nuclear- free policy.• They requested a visit by the U.S.S. Buchanan. It was an older ship and unlikely to be nuclear-armed.• 10,000 people protested against the possible visit.• The United States refused to confirm whether the Buchanan was nuclear-armed.• The Lange government denies the U.S.S. Buchanan entry.
The suspension of ANZUS• The United States was concerned that New Zealand’s policy could spread to other allies.• If it did, it would make it much harder for the U.S. Navy to function.• The U.S. refused to compromise on “neither confirm nor deny’.• Mr Schultz (the U.S. Secretary of State) declared that ANZUS could not operate under these conditions.• ANZUS was suspended for a long as the nuclear-free policy remained.
How it affected New Zealand• The U.S. stopped sharing intelligence with NZ.• America refused to hold military exercises with NZ.• Access to the White House and Pentagon was made more difficult.• The U.S. passed the Broomfield Act in 1987 which officially downgraded the status of NZ from “ally” to “friend”.
Consequences for New Zealand identity • The uncompromising approach taken by the U.S. did not alarm New Zealanders. • In 1985 a poll showed that 73% of New Zealanders supported the nuclear-free policy. • In March 1985 Prime Minister Lange took part in a debate at Oxford University. He argued that nuclear weapons could not be defended morally. His performance in that debate was praised internationally. • The National Party accepted the popular support for the nuclear free policy and adopted it when it returned to power in 1991. • The policy was a significant demonstration of national independence and commitment to the concerns of the Pacific region.