Is NZ’s Anti-Nuclear Stand Crumbling?


B-52 ‘carpet bombing’ over Vietnam in the Vietnam war

The NZ ‘Anti Bases Campaign’ (ABC) says the planned — but aborted — American B-52 bomber visit earlier this year raises serious questions about this country’s anti-nuclear policy.

It says a letter from Winston Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs, raises more questions

Deputy PM and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters

than it answers.

The Campaign says that in late March it publicised its concerns about the (ultimately aborted) planned flyover of the Wings Over Wairarapa Airshow in February by a  US Air Force B52 bomber and wrote to the Government about it.

It says a letter from Winston Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs raises more questions than answers.

The Anti Bases Campaign asked the Government how many previous US aircraft visits were from nuclear capable aircraft.

Winston Peters replied: “New Zealand makes its own determinations regarding military aircraft or vessel visits and does not require any state to make a declaration on nuclear armament”. T

But the Campaign says: “This means that US military planes visiting NZ could carry nuclear weapons and New Zealand would not know.

“So, where is NZ’s nuclear free law in all of this? Peters’ letter makes a mockery of it, indeed it renders that law null and void.” 

Winston Peter’s letter

Here is Winston Peter’s full reply to the Anti Bases Campaign:

“Dear Murray Horton ( ABC Organiser)

“Your email to the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, has been referred to me as the issue you raise falls within my portfolio responsibilities.

“New Zealand’s relationship with the United States exists within the context of our independent foreign policy, and reflects New Zealand values and interests.

“The intended fly-over by a B-52 aircraft at the Wings Over Wairarapa air show is consistent with that relationship and follows the previous attendance of United States Air Force aircraft at New Zealand air shows.

“In line with the nuclear-free legislation, New Zealand makes its own determinations regarding military aircraft or vessel visits and does not require any state to make a declaration on nuclear armament”.

(signed Winston Peters)

Anti-Bases Campaign Alarm

The Anti-Bases Campaign (ABC) says it first became alarmed when it learnt that the “star” of the February 2019 Wings Over Wairarapa air show was supposed to be a US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber flying over Masterton (it became a no-show because it suffered operational problems in Australia, en route from its Guam base)..

It says a B-52 it is synonymous with the systematic aerial destruction inflicted upon Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War, people may think that B-52s are historic relics, on a par with the various vintage warplanes that are flown at NZ air shows on a regular basis, but this is not so.

Although B-52s date back to 1955, they have been in continuous use by the US Air Force ever since, and remain so today (they have been most recently used to bomb Syria).

NZ has been out of the ANZUS Treaty for nearly 35 years (the Australia, New Zealand, US military treaty that was the foundation of all New Zealand’s defence and foreign policy from its inception in 1951 until the US, under President Ronald Reagan, kicked us out in 1986. It remains in force today, but only between the US and Australia).

Soft Power

The Anti Bases Campaign asks: “So, what was this (planned) Masterton flyover all about?

It says the flyover was aimed at softening up the New Zealand people to support further extending the military alliance with the US, but this time on home soil, rather than overseas. This is called “soft power”.

USS Sampson sailing into Wellington Harbour in Novembert, 2016 — the 1st visit by a US warship for 33 years.

“It took until 2016 for the first US Navy warship to visit NZ since the 1980s’ “ANZUS row,” says the ABC.

“It was invited to Auckland to take part in the multinational celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the NZ Navy. (It never actually got to Auckland, instead being diverted to the South Island to assist in the evacuation of people left stranded by the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake (this was propaganda gold for the US military).

“That warship visit was under the Key National government, which was not that surprising.

Labour Government support

“But this (abortive) B-52 flyover was authorised by the Ardern Labour Coalition government.

“The US knows that it can keep on chipping away at NZ public opinion, aided and abetted by a sympathetic Government.

“The steady drip, drip, drip of soft power is intended to lead to the full resumption of “hard power” i.e. NZ as a fully functional, albeit, junior, US satellite once again (that is already the reality but it is not the perception that is peddled to the NZ people).”

US Ambassador gets involved

In a statement after the B-52’s cancellation, US Ambassador Scott Brown said thousands of people made plans based on being able to see the B-52.

We know how disappointed they will be. We share that disappointment,” he said.

“We’re gutted. We’ve been in touch with the organisers and I personally called Defence Minister Ron Mark to convey our apologies and regret…”

So, KIN asks, could NZ’s Labour-led Government be slowly subverting our anti-nuclear policy?


If someone is more knowledgeable about the anti-bases campaign group could they state whether their objective is for NZ to be anti-nuclear, against NZ alliances or against having an NZ Defence Force?

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