Obama Administration Ends 26-Year Ban on New Zealand Warships Visiting U.S.
The Department of Defense has lifted a 26-year-old ban on New Zealand warships entering U.S. bases.
The prohibition came in response to a New Zealand law adopted in the 1986 that denied the docking of any American warship carrying nuclear weapons. New Zealand has sent troops to support the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and ten New Zealand soldiers have been killed there, including five last month.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted that the lifting of the U.S. ban does not mean New Zealand plans to reopen its ports to American naval vessels. The anti-nuclear law is still popular among New Zealanders, and the country’s defense minister, Jonathan Coleman, has said their policy “remains unchanged and will remain unchanged.”
Nevertheless, the Obama administration was willing to act unilaterally in the hope that in time the U.S. will gain access to New Zealand’s ports.
In order to counter China’s growing military strength in the Pacific, the U.S. Navy has been making overtures to allies as a way to expand its list of available ports from which American fleets can operate.
In addition to warming up to New Zealand, the U.S. has had discussions with the Philippines about returning American naval forces to Subic Bay, which functioned as a key base of operations during the Cold War.
To Learn More:
Panetta Lifts Ban On New Zealand Naval Ships (by David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times)
US Eases Three-Decade Ban On Port Visits By New Zealand Warships (by Chris Carroll, Star & Stripes)
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