Clinton’s mysterious comment raises eyebrows in New Zealand
October 12, 2009 2 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A comment by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton following a meeting with a senior New Zealand government official has raised questions by intelligence observers in the pacific nation. Speaking last Friday after an official meeting in Washington with her New Zealand counterpart, minister of foreign affairs Murray McCully, Clinton said the US “very much” values its diplomatic partnership with New Zealand. She then proceeded to say “[w]e are resuming our intelligence-sharing cooperation, which we think is very significant”. This latter comment struck many intelligence observers in Wellington as odd, and for a good reason: nobody was under the impression that the US-NZ intelligence cooperation had been disrupted. The mystery deepened when New Zealand prime minister John Key refused to explain Hillary Clinton’s remark when asked, saying simply “I just don’t comment on issues of national security”. Looking back into the recent history of US-NZ relations, the only glitch that could have caused that cooperation to end would have been New Zealand’s nuclear ban. It was in 1984, when, under mounting popular pressure, the Labour government of David Lange voted to bar nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from entering New Zealand territorial waters. At the time, the ban was heralded by the global nuclear disarmament movement as a major victory. But Washington did not see it this way. Successive US administrations pressured Wellington to repeal the nuclear-free legislation and allow US warships to make use of New Zealand ports. Washington’s pressure increased in the years after 9/11, culminating in 2006, when the US threatened to cancel a free-trade agreement between the two countries if New Zealand refused to repeal the ban. It now appears that, at some point in time, possibly after 9/11, the US actually terminated intelligence sharing between the two countries, in order to force it to comply, and now the Obama administration has decided to resume it.