New Zealand will be excluded from an annual meeting of the alliance linking it with Australia and the United States unless it restores "normal port access" to U.S. ships, the State Department said yesterday.
U.S. defense relations with New Zealand have been effectively on hold since New Zealand's decision last year to prohibit a U.S. warship from making a port call unless the United States disclosed whether the ship was carrying nuclear arms. Washington, in accordance with longstanding policy, refused to provide such information on grounds it would aid adversaries.
This year's annual ANZUS meeting, set for Aug. 11-12 in San Francisco, will include only U.S. and Australian officials unless New Zealand restores port access to U.S. ships, a State Department spokesman said.
Since last summer, the U.S. position has been that if New Zealand enacts pending legislation that would formalize the government's policy of banning nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ships from its ports, the United States will probably suspend its security obligation to New Zealand under the ANZUS mutual defense treaty, signed in 1951.
New Zealand has said it is prepared to change some elements of the legislation, which is expected to be reported out of committee in August, but will not revoke its ban on nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered warships.
Diplomatic sources here have suggested that the two sides could take a cue from China and Britain, which recently agreed on a visit by British ships to Shanghai in July.
China has an antinuclear policy similar to New Zealand's; Britain has the same policy as the United States and has expressed concern about New Zealand's antinuclear legislation.