JustPeace #57

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  • Sharing not Spying is the Key to a Safer World

    was Keith Locke’s comment on the Budget on 28 May. He said that the Government had got its priorities badly wrong, with dramatic budget boosts for intelligence agencies but just a miserly increase in overseas aid.

    “If we want to be secure from terrorism we should first help reduced the gap between rich and poor countries,” said Keith. “The priority spending area should be on overseas aid, not more intelligence operatives. Yet New Zealand’s aid budget is miserly, rising this coming year from 0.23 per cent of Gross National Income to just 0.24 per cent. The agreed international standard is 0.7 per cent.

    “By contrast the Security Intelligence Service and Government Communications Security Bureau budgets both went up by 28 per cent.”


    Keith’s release


  • Answers from America Required

    . NZ should challenge the US over the detention in Iraq of Kiwi Andreas Schafer, said Keith on 25 May.

    “It is totally unacceptable for a New Zealander to be detained for nearly three months without our Government being told the details,” said Keith. “If any other nation treated a New Zealander as poorly as this, the Government would be actively intervening and condemning such an abuse. Instead it seems to be accepting it as just another overhead in the Americans’ ‘war on terror’.

    “In mid-March the family had an email indicating he had been detained, but it took a month and a half for the Ministry to confirm he was locked up, though they didn’t know for sure who was holding him. Even now the Ministry seems to be in the dark as to what exactly happened to Mr Schafer.

    “Why didn’t the Ministry really push the American authorities for answers? It is hard to believe that American officials didn’t know where he was or couldn’t find him, particularly when their people interrogated him several times.

    “It’s clear from other reports that American forces have been rounding up people in Iraq in a fairly arbitrary fashion and keeping them in detention for an unconscionably long time. In failing to hold the American military to account, our Government has not only let its own citizen down, but also the many other people unjustly held in US prisons in Iraq,” said Keith.


    Keith’s release


  • NZ Law in Breach of International Human Rights?

    On 21 May Keith said the Government should rethink its detention of Ahmed Zaoui in the light of strong criticism from the UN Committee Against Torture.

    The Committee had just released a report (Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 19 of the Convention: Conclusions and Recommendations of the Committee against Torture, dated May 19, 2004), which challenged the legislation under which Mr Zaoui is being detained and processed.

    “The Committee makes it clear that Mr Zaoui will not get a fair hearing under the present Security Risk Certificate procedure, because the lack of an obligation to disclose classified information to the concerned person ‘limited possibilities of effective appeal’.

    “The Committee also criticised the Security Risk Certificate legislation for giving the Minister of Immigration only three days to decide whether to deport the person concerned. They assert that, taken together, the procedures might breach Article 3 of the UN Convention Against Torture.

    “Mr Zaoui’s 17 months behind bars, much of it in solitary confinement, would also breach Article 16 of the Convention which prohibits ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment’ short of torture. The Committee criticises New Zealand for ‘cases of over-prolonged non-voluntary segregation’ (solitary confinement), contrary to Article 16.

    “New Zealand’s international reputation as an upholder of human rights is being seriously eroded. Our chances of gaining a place on the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), as desired by the Government, are fast disappearing.

    “There is no way that Mr Zaoui should continue to be a guinea pig for a discredited piece of legislation antithetical to human rights. He should be freed to take up the refugee status granted to him by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority,” said Keith.


    Keith’s release



  • Christchurch, Thursday June 3

    , 7:30 P.M., WEA, 59 Gloucester St.

    A screening of the ABC video

    Land of the Morning Star

    . ‘West Papua is an extraordinary place of snow-capped mountains and massive rivers. Some 250 languages are spoken. ‘Land of the Morning Star’ narrates the saga of this isolated and resource rich land as it is invaded by the Muslims of Malacca, then the Dutch and now the Indonesians, who use their military to protect multinational mining corporations. The people struggle not just for independence but for their very survival’.

    Hosted by the Green Party and Peace Action Network. Entry by gold coin koha.


  • Disinformation on ‘The Danish Solution’

    . The National Party Taskforce

    on NZ’s nuclear-free policy (report available on the

    National Party Policy page

    ) advocates that NZ should adopt the so-called ‘Danish Solution’ with regard to allowing US warships to visit NZ. Unfortunately, the report either deliberately or accidentally misrepresents exactly what Denmark does, and why it would not therefore be appropriate for NZ, as Bob White of Abolition 2000 points out in the article below.

    Nationals’ Ludicrous Proposal for a Policy of Nuclear Hypocrisy

    Prepared by R E White for Abolition 2000 (Auckland), 8 May 2004

    The report released by the National Party Taskforce dated May 2004 sets out (p.3) “to answer the question as to how best to resolve the outstanding differences [in our relationship with the US] and move the relationship forward positively”. The report is replete with questionable and, at times distorted, argument and assertion concerning NZ-US trade and security relations and how to improve these, but the proposal that has received the most comment is for a change to our nuclear free legislation. This appears in discussions of what the Taskforce calls its “Danish Solution” for resolving the twenty year impasse with the US dating from 1984 over visits by nuclear armed or propelled warships, enshrined in legislation in 1987.

    As presented, this “Danish Solution” is either deliberately very devious, or it displays a misunderstanding of Danish nuclear policy to a degree that is incomprehensible and ludicrous considering the research done by the Taskforce since it began work in November 2002. What constitutes this Danish Solution is not easy to discover from the confused discussion of Danish policy in the report. It would seem to be embodied in the following quotes from the report.

    “Denmark, a member of NATO (a military alliance which includes the United States) maintains a nuclear free policy as resolute as New Zealand’s without the issue having become a matter of dispute with America in the way it has with New Zealand.” (p.4) “The contrasting feature between Denmark and New Zealand is that Denmark maintains its nuclear free status as a matter of policy – it did not pass a specific law. The major impediment to improving the relationship with the United States is the existence in law of Section 11 [which bans visits to our internal waters and ports by nuclear powered ships] of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987. The Danish experience shows that a law is not essential to maintain a nation’s nuclear free status.” (p.5)

    Both statements are completely incorrect in major respects. Considering the second quote, this implies that Denmark prohibits visits by nuclear powered warships through policy, as opposed to our law, as do other statements in the report. This is quite incorrect. Denmark has no policy banning nuclear powered vessels. It is also wrong in claiming that our ban is the “major impediment ” to improved NZ-US relations. The major impediment is US intransigence.

    The Danish policy, as supplied by the Danish Embassy in Canberra states that before permission is granted for nuclear powered vessels to berth in Danish ports the following documents must be available: a safety report giving a technical description of the nuclear power plant in the ship so Danish authorities can evaluate the safety-related standards in the ship; an emergency plan approved by Danish authorities in case of any radioactive release or other nuclear dangers; a satisfactory liability agreement covering such nuclear incidents. Of course neither the US or UK have ever given other countries such technical details of their warships. They have not done so for Denmark, with the result that no nuclear powered warship has entered a Danish port for 40 years. It is for this reason that Denmark appears to have a strong prohibition on nuclear powered vessels. This is completely different from the ban in our Act.

    National now wants to repeal our legislative ban on visits by these vessels, but retain our ban as a policy, as they appear to imagine Denmark does. And this, the report argues, would keep US nuclear powered vessels out of our ports, while at the same time mollifying the US. As can be seen, this is a ludicrous misinterpretation of Danish policy. Or is National being deliberately devious and, if in power intends to allow nuclear powered vessels to visit, and demand the same documents Denmark requires to effectively keep US nuclear powered vessels out of our ports – a full Danish policy? But it would seem they cannot now propose this because the Taskforce accepts the findings of a study made under an earlier National Government, the Somers Report of 1992, which states that US and Royal Navy nuclear powered vessels are “safe”. “The Taskforce has no reason to question the validity of these findings [of the Somers Report]”. (p.50) Could National go back on this statement? They appear to have a problem here.

    The statement that Danish policy is a “resolute as New Zealand’s” is also quite incorrect concerning nuclear weapons. Our legislation, section 9, is strong and unique, providing as it does for New Zealand to decide using its own resources whether or not to admit a vessel capable of carrying nuclear weapons. We do not rely on assurances from anyone else to make this judgement. Denmark, by contrast, states that it has been the constant policy of Danish governments to ban the presence of nuclear weapons on Danish territory in times of peace, including nuclear weapons aboard ships. Denmark says that this policy is well known to its allies in NATO, and the Danish Government takes it for granted that warships which visit Danish ports respect this policy. It does not question compliance as it does not want to express distrust in its allies.

    This policy, adopted by a number of countries, is known as the “trust them” policy amongst analysts, who universally consider that regardless of any such policy, the US and UK have routinely taken nuclear weapons into ports in these countries, including Denmark, against their expressed wish. The Danish policy is weak, and puts Denmark, Sweden and others into a group of countries seen as operating hypocritical nuclear weapons policies routinely ignored by the US and UK. Japan is in this group, although its policy is different. New Zealand operated this type of policy up to 1984, and there is no doubt that nuclear weapons entered our ports on US warships prior to this. Otherwise why did the Muldoon National Government in 1976 request and obtain from the US Government an Aide Memoire (copy available) guaranteeing acceptance of liability in the case of an accident in one of our ports involving a nuclear weapon on a visiting US warship.

    Denmark’s nuclear free policy is not as “resolute” as ours now is in any respect. The Taskforce has completely misrepresented Danish policy. What the Taskforce appears to be proposing is only a partial Danish Solution. If they want to follow Denmark’s nuclear weapons policy, they would have to propose repealing section 9 of the Act as well as section 11. At present they say this would not be National’s intention. Nevertheless, to the international community, any change in our present strong nuclear free legislation to make it more like the Danish model will be seen as a major weakening, and we will become classed as another member of the hypocrites club. This even though the nuclear weapons situation has changed markedly since 1987 when our legislation was enacted.

    It has been reported that the US appears interested in these Taskforce proposals. This is very likely because US officials see it as easier subsequently to overturn policy than legislation. Remember, strong reactions from the US were seen in 1986 to our continued determination to enshrine our policy in legislation.

    This whole discussion may seem academic now that US surface warships and attack submarines are generally accepted to have been free of nuclear weapons for over ten years. In this regard it must be remembered however that the US neither confirm nor deny policy includes a proviso saying that while it is general policy not to deploy nuclear weapons on these vessels, “we do not discuss the presence or absence of nuclear weapons aboard specific ships, submarines or aircraft”. The very worrying developments in nuclear weapons policy occurring under the Bush administration, make it imperative that our nuclear free status is guarded with great vigilance.

    If National want to change our law regarding nuclear powered vessels, the only honest proposal would be to repeal section 11 of the Act and allow these vessels to visit. The only type of vessel we would then see in our ports would be nuclear powered attack submarines of the type we saw prior to 1984. Of particular significance here is that in his 2000 and 2001 Annual Report to the President and the Congress, former US Defense Secretary, William S Cohen confirmed that while nuclear capability on US surface warships has been eliminated, ‘the capability to deploy Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles armed with a nuclear warhead on submarines has been maintained.’ (2000 report p.72, 2001 report p.93) Nothing has been seen in subsequent annual reports, from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld since 2002, to suggest any change in this policy. The Navy Fact File on the US Navy website confirms that all current classes of nuclear powered attack submarines are equipped to carry these missiles. The US has around 320 of these sea-launched cruise missiles in storage and capable of carrying a W80-0 nuclear warhead. Given the belligerent nature of the nuclear planning seen in the US, it is possible that these submarines could at some time in the future be re-equipped with nuclear armed missiles, if some are not already so armed, something that would not be known publicly. Respected analysts estimate that these submarines could be equipped with the missiles within 30 days. In the light of this uncertainty concerning the nuclear armed status of these submarines, any move to repeal section 11 of our Act and replace it with some weaker policy must, be strenuously opposed.

    Finally, it was stated earlier that the claim by the Taskforce that section 11 is the “major impediment” to better NZ-US relations is incorrect, and that it is US intransigence that underlies the problem. The US has long claimed that it will not visit New Zealand while our ban on nuclear powered warships stands because it cannot split its Pacific fleet into nuclear and conventionally powered elements. It should be quite clear by now that it has done this for many years for Denmark, so why not for us? The answer is that the Danish approach leaves the US in charge of the decision to visit with nuclear powered vessels or not. It could give Denmark the necessary technical information in secret for example to allow visits, but chooses not to. Our ban takes the decision making out of the hands of the US. We just say no, with no room for compromise, and the US does not accept others saying no to them easily. So the whole problem is one of symbolism. To the US our legislation stands as a clear, internationally visible, and continuing symbol of a nation that had, and continues to have, the strength to refuse to bow to American will on a matter of great importance to that nation. For us, our iconic legislation is a symbol of our maturity and our independence as a nation. We must guard this symbol with vigour and determination, and not let it be tarnished.

JustPeace was produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP

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