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New Zealand Rules Out Military Pact With U.S., UK & Australia - ‘A Club We’d Have To Sell Our Soul To Join’

By Belal Awad · July 31, 2023

In brief…

  • New Zealand's Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said country has no intention of joining the AUKUS alliance
  • The AUKUS alliance, formed by Australia, the UK, and the US, aims to counter China's military presence in the Pacific.
  • New Zealand's nuclear-free laws make participation incompatible, according to Mahuta.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the door remains open for New Zealand's participation in the future.
New Zealand FM Nanaia Mahuta with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.  US Embassy New Zealand/Wikimedia Commons

New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta firmly stated her country has no intention of joining the AUKUS alliance in last week’s meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. AUKUS, a military pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, entails basing nuclear submarines in Australia as a deterrent to China’s expanding military presence.

Blinken was in New Zealand to watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup US-Netherlands game at Wellington Stadium following his opening of the new U.S. embassy in Tonga. At their press conference last week, both Blinken and Mahuta reaffirmed warm relations between the two nations, with Mahuta saying, “New Zealand views the US among our closest friends.” She later added, however, that despite the friendship, “I’ll be really clear. We’re not contemplating joining AUKUS.”

The AUKUS alliance, announced in September 2021, aims to strengthen the security interests of its member countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. New Zealand’s nuclear-free laws and its nuclear-free Pacific policy, however, make it impossible for the island nation to participate. “Not only would AUKUS clash with our nuclear-free laws,” explained Mahuta, “but also [with] our nuclear-free Pacific policy. It’s a club we’d have to sell our soul in order to join.”

Blinken, however, insisted the press conference with Mahuta that New Zealand’s can join the alliance any time it wishes to do so, adding, “As we continue to develop it, as we continue to work, particularly now on the second pillar, the door is very much open for New Zealand and other partners to engage as they see appropriate.”

Mahuta quickly responded, “New Zealand is not prepared to compromise or change our nuclear-free position,” leaving little room for diplomatic doubt from her U.S. counterpart.