Nuclear Free New Zealand

  

Nuclear Free New Zealand

In 1987, New Zealand declared itself a nuclear free zone. This law applies to both nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, and reduces the risk of any nuclear related accidents that could happen while maintaining a stance in international relations for nuclear disarmament. David Lange, the Prime Minister at the time that the legislation was introduced, said at the time of the law's induction that “there is only one thing more dangerous than being attacked by nuclear weapons and that is being protected by them.” In 2006, president John Key mentioned that the act would stand as long as he was in power, and with a current coalition between labour president Jacida Ardern and the green party adding a lot of weight to environmental issues, the law is not likely to change in the near future.
It hasn't been an easy ride. The law created a rift in the ANZUS alliance as tensions between the US and NZ grew as a result of the termination of nuclear-capable shifts in NZ waters, unless they carried an explicit declaration that they carried no nuclear weapons. The US refused to make an exception for a small ally such as NZ, and thus the alliance was split apart with Australia stranded in the middle politically between the two countries. While the tension has dropped off between the US and New Zealand, the nuclear free stance has become an integral part of New Zealand's identity. In an age where so many countries are armed with nuclear weapons and alliances and rivalries are formed, when a single digital security threat could potentially send the entire planet into a meltdown, it is brave and sustainably minded to stand against it.
The law came as a result of extensive nuclear testing in the pacific, especially on Mururoa Island, and also as a retaliation to the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. Many New Zealanders, amongst other Polynesians, sent yachts and boats towards Muuroa as a protest against the French nuclear atmospheric nuclear testings which had been prohibited by the International Court of Justice while a court case was active. Boats were rammed, protestors were beaten, and as a result, there was a large increase in anti-nuclear support within New Zealand's society. When the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior ship was sunk in Auckland harbour by French intelligence, which had taken part in some of the protests for Mururoa, this ideology was strengthened and contributed to the initiation of the legislation.
As well as banning nuclear powered ships or ships that carried nuclear weapons into New Zealand waters, and any aircraft in the airspace, this law also applies to nuclear power. While some governments think that nuclear energy is a possible solution to reducing carbon emissions, nuclear power generators are never safe, and when disaster strikes, it is devastating and fatal. While radioactive waste is minimal, it is still existent, and will be a problem that we essentially hand down to future generations. As the practice of creating nuclear energy is also banned in New Zealand, and due to it's location over tectonic plates, many forms of environmentally friendly energy are harnessed and the popularity is ever growing. Geothermal points at all of New Zealand's hot spots are being used, as is the notoriously windy weather and the countless sources of flowing water, to ensure that the population is maintaining a green image, protecting the environment, and sticking to the legislation.
In 1989, a survey conducted that 52% of New Zealand residents would rather break defence ties with America than to admit nuclear armed ships. In response to the anti nuclear legislation, the US introduced the Broomfield Act, which meant that New Zealand was downgraded from US ally to US friend in symbolic retaliation. While, since the start of the legislation in 1987, there have been tensions between the US government and and the New Zealand government, trade still continues to prosper between the two countries. In November 2016, the first US warship to enter New Zealand's waters marked a point of tolerance.
The anti-nuclear stance helps to promote New Zealand as a green and innovative, forward thinking country. Over thirty years strong, and now ingrained in the minds of kiwis, the legislation does not look to be dropped anytime soon, and so future generations can benefit from a nuclear free home.

 

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