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  • ISSN 0114-9199 ISBN 0-908881-1 l-8





    Robert E White

    July 1997

    Author's Address:

    Centre for Peace Studies University of Auckland

    Private Bad 92019 Auckland New Zealand

    Tel. +64 - 9 - 3737599 ext. 8364 Fax. +64 - 9 - 3737445 E-mail.

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    This Working Paper series presents current research carried out by members and associates of the Centre for Peace Studies, and aims to cover topics dealing with matters relating to a broad range of peace issues.

    Publication as a Working Paper does not preclude subsequent publication in scholarly journals or books.

    Unless otherwise stated, publications of the Centre for Peace Studies are presented without endorsement, as contributions to the public record and debate. Authors are responsible for their own analysis and conclusions.

    Centre for Peace StudiesUniversity of Auckland

    Private Bag 92019Auckland

    New Zealand

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    This is the first in a planned series of working papers dealing with aspects of New Zealand's nuclear free policy and legislation. They are intended to cover the introduction of the policy in 1984 and the legislation in 1987, and related developments in New Zealand following each of these events.

    This working paper has two goals. First, it is argued that New Zealand did not become truly nuclear free, free of nuclear weapons, until 1984 when Labour put its nuclear policy into effect. Claims frequently repeated during the 1970s and early 1980s that a former Prime Minister, Keith Holyoake, had made New Zealand nuclear free in 1957 are disputed, as are claims that New Zealand banned visits by nuclear armed and powered vessels during periods prior to 1984. The record of the National and Labour Parties on nuclear matters while in government in the 1970s and 1980s are examined to substantiate these conclusions.

    Second, events subsequent to the election in 1984 that finally saw the nuclear policy implemented for the first time when the USS Buchanan was refused permission to visit are followed using new material relating to this incident released late in 1996 under the Official Information Act. These reveal a detailed plan for this and at least one subsequent visit, prepared by officials from the three ANZUS government working in concert. While their long term intent is not definite from the documents, it is argued that this was very possibly to implement New Zealand's nuclear policy in such a way as to allow a gradual return to as near a pre-election pattern of warship visits as possible. A set of these documents is included.

    The paper concludes with an extensive chronology of events relating to the nuclear policy from the 19$4 election to the the tenth anniversary of the signing into law of the legislation on 8 June 1997, and a table comparing a number of factors related to the nuclear issue as they were in 1984/5 and as they are now, 1995/7.


    The author, now retired from the University of Auckland, has an extensive record of research in nuclear physics. Since 1986 he has been engaged in research related to nuclear policies and strategies. He was a founder member of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (NZ) in 19$3, and has been the Director of the Centre for Peace Studies since it was established late in 1988 in the University. He holds the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy (1957) and Doctor of Science (1981).

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    The author is greatly indebted to Wellington based peace researcher and activist Nicky Hager for his advice and input, particularly in relation to chapter two of this paper. With his proximity to Parliament and politicians, and to government departments, he has developed an unusual level of contact with many of the personalities of importance in this study. Thoughtful comment, and careful editing by John Gribben is also gratefully acknowledged. The author is indebted to Jane and Dick Keller for their continued support and hospitality during visits to Wellington to examine documents at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This work was supported financially by grants from the University of Auckland and the Centre for Peace Studies.

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    Acronyms/Abbreviations vi

    INTRODUCTION 1References 4


    1.1 Introduction 6 1.2 Nuclear Weapons 7 1.3 A South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone 12 1.4 The Nuclear Powered Warship 'Ban' 15 1.5 The 1984 Policy 19 References 20


    2.1 Introduction 21 2.2 A Very Curious Situation 23 2.3 The American Position 27 2.4 The Buchanan Papers - Planning for the Buchanan Visit 29 2.5 The Buchanan - Nuclear Armed or Not 33 2.6 The Visit is Off - Why? 39 2.7 The Aftermath 42 References 43

    CONCLUSION 44References 46


    TABLE OF COMPARISONS - 1984/5 and 1995/7 58

    APPENDIX ONE The Buchanan Papers 61

    APPENDIX TWO Prime Minister's Visit to New York, notes froma meeting with United States Secretary of State, George Shultz,Monday 29 September 1984 122

    APPENDIX THREE 13 December 1984 telegram forHeads of Post/Mission from M Norrish, Secretary of Foreign Affairs 132

    APPENDIX FOUR 31 August 1984 memorandum from M Norrishto the Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Lange, and a relatedpress release 140

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    ANZUS Treaty between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States

    CINCPAC Commander in Chief Pacific Forces (US)

    CTBT Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

    EIB External Intelligence Bureau

    FPDA Five Power Defence Arrangements

    HMNZS Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship

    MAF Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

    MMP Mixed Member Proportional representation

    NCND The policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence or absence of nuclear weapons on vessels, aircraft, or at any location.

    N P V Nuclear powered vessel

    N P W Nuclear powered warship

    NZPD New Zealand Parliamentary Debates

    RNZAF Royal New Zealand Air Force

    SPNFZ South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone

    S S B N Ballistic missile submarine

    U N G A United Nations General Assembly

    WHA World Health Assembly

  • 1


    A snap election called on 14 July 1984 by the then Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, resulted in defeat for his National Government and the election for the first time since 1975 of a Labour Government, led by David Lange. The election was itself triggered in part by major differences between the parties, and between members of Muldoon's own Government, over nuclear issues, and saw the country with a new government committed to a strong anti-nuclear policy. It is now over twelve years since this policy was put into effect as government policy, and in June 1997, ten years since the policy was embodied in law as the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disailnament, and ArmsControl Act on 8 June 1987, a very important occasion in New Zealand's anti-nuclear history. This is an appropriate juncture at which to review the successes and failures of New Zealand's anti-nuclear policy.

    The intention of this study is to examine the nature of this policy, its embodiment in law as the Act, and its operation since 1984. New Zealand still remains unique as the only country to impose an anti-nuclear policy by legislation, but this does not mean that there are not questions that need to be asked about the hopes and intentions of those who formulated the policy, and its resulting nature. It is clear for example that the formula arrived at in the policy of New Zealand approving or refusing visits by vessels capable of carrying nuclear weapons was bound to fail, in that neither the United States nor Britain would have continued visits in the mid-1980s while maintaining their policies of neither confirming nor denying the presence of nuclear weapons on a given vessel. For Labour to have hoped otherwise appears very naive. The Americans and British would not accept New Zealand labelling some of their warships as free of nuclear weapons by allowing them to visit, and their representatives said as much. Yet recently released material relating to the so-called Buchanan incident, the proposed visit to New Zealand by the United States destroyer USS Buchanan early in 1985, suggests that there was hope among government officials, and possibly some Labour Members of Parliament, that visits could have continued. We examine the basis for this hope later in this paper. Labour's frequently repeated claim that New Zealand could stay in ANZUS in a purely conventional role was equally surprising since the United States clearly saw ANZUS as part of its global nuclear deterrence structure, and wanted unfettered movement of its nuelear armed warships. Labour was, of course, concerned at the time to maintain the support of an electorate then strongly wanting continued ANZUS membership, as many opinion polls showed.

    The findings from this study are being presented as a series of working papers, commencing in 1997 to mark this important tenth anniversary year. They carry the cornmon title, Nuclear Free New Zealand. When complete, this series will provide material supporting the above claims, and material relating to other aspects of the history, nature and operation of New Zealand's anti-nuclear policy.

    The most frequently discussed aspects of this quite broad policy are its bans on nuclear weap