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New Zealand in Talks to Join UK, US, Australia’s Non-nuclear Aukus

The country’s defense minister said that the nation is willing to think about joining the second pillar of the AUKUS defense agreement.

New Zealand has confirmed that it is in talks to join the non-nuclear pillar of the AUKUS alliance, founded by Australia, the UK, and the US.

Defense Minister Andrew Little said the country was willing to explore the opportunity, involving discussions on surveillance and radio technology to protect defense personnel.

“We have been offered the opportunity to talk about whether we could or wish to participate in that pillar two [non-nuclear] aspects of it. “I’ve indicated we will be willing to explore it,” Mr. Little said in Wellington on Tuesday.

New Zealand has not been offered the chance to join pillar one, which covers Australia’s receipt of nuclear-powered submarines, due to its anti-nuclear position. Little said that AUKUS membership could not compromise the country’s legal obligations and moral commitment to being nuclear-free. 

The second “pillar” of the three-part deal covers sharing advanced military technologies, including quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

New Zealand has expressed concerns that AUKUS may jeopardize the Treaty of Rarotonga, which designates large areas of the Pacific free of nuclear weapons.

Last week, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta met with top Chinese diplomats and told them about these worries. China is very against AUKUS and has said it has “serious concern and firm opposition” to the military partnership between Australia, the UK, and the US. It is unclear whether China holds the same concerns about pillar two of the AUKUS deal. 

New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Helen Clark has argued that it is not in the country’s interests to be associated with AUKUS.

Source: Interesting Engineering