WikiLeaks cable: Non-Proliferation Treaty

Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

This is one of the diplomatic cables about New Zealand held by Wikileaks.

April 12, 2005

Classified By: Charge David Burnett, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (D).

1. (C) Summary: Minister for Disarmament Marion Hobbs has expressed regret at causing offense during her February meeting on Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) issues with Ambassador Sanders (Ref B), claiming she had only been trying to say that all parts of the NPT are equally important and should lead to the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. Hobbs stressed several times that she is not singling out the United States and believes all nuclear states must disarm. Her anxiety to set the record straight is significant, as it reflects a growing sensitivity among New Zealand officials that their U.S. counterparts are not happy with how the GONZ views the United States. However, Hobbs stopped short of endorsing our position that proliferation is currently the greatest nuclear threat to global security. End Summary.

2. (C) At an April 4 meeting with DCM and Pol-Econ Couns, New Zealand's Minister for Disarmament Marion Hobbs expressed regret for any misunderstanding during her February 11 meeting with Ambassador Sanders (Ref B) concerning New Zealand goals for the May NPT Review Conference (Revcon). Hobbs said that she was surprised to learn that any offense
had been taken by her remarks concerning the responsibility of the United States to disarm its nuclear weapons. She said that as she remembered the conversation, she and Ambassador Sanders had agreed that New Zealand and the United States share the ultimate goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons.

3. (C) Hobbs said that what she actually had been trying to say was that New Zealand fears the Revcon will result in a trade-off between disarmament and nonproliferation. That must not happen. She stressed that New Zealand wants Iran to stop its illegal nuclear program, although she admitted that the IAEA was having a hard time getting Iran to verify and said Germany had asked for the Kiwis' help to get Iran on
board. The DCM said the United States appreciated New Zealand's previous work as IAEA Board member in trying to get Iran to cooperate with the IAEA. Pol-Econ Couns said that our goal, too, is to prevent one part of the NPT from being traded for another. But proliferation has increased even as the nuclear states have disarmed. The greatest immediate threat to global security is nonproliferation and this should
be the RevCon's focus.

4. (C) Hobbs said New Zealand believes the nuclear states must also submit their programs to verification. She assured us that since her meeting with Ambassador Sanders, she had made the same point to Russia's senior NPT negotiator. She admitted that she has not yet had the chance to raise the issue with China and the UK, and that it would be a long time before she could discuss the NPT with France. (Comment:
Thanks to the 1985 Auckland bombing by French intelligence of the Greenpeace ship the "Rainbow Warrior," New Zealand's history with France on nuclear issues is even more fraught with conflict than our own. End comment.) Hobbs repeated that New Zealand officials are pushing the need for disarmament because they believe it is necessary to make progress on all parts of the NPT, with the ultimate goal of
eliminating all nuclear arms in all states. "I see two groupings of countries," she said, "nuclear states, non-nuclear states, and a few in between."

5. (C) The DCM noted that some non-nuclear states useArticle VI as an excuse to move ahead on their illegitimate nuclear programs. The U.S. record on disarmament is exceptional, as Ambassador Sanders noted during her visit and in her article in the recent U.S. electronic journal on nuclear issues (Ref A). The DCM provided Minister Hobbs with
a hard copy of the journal. He noted that all U.S. discussions with New Zealand on nuclear matters carry baggage, but that it is important that we work together when we can. We also recognize that one problem is that
NPT-compliant countries don't have as much leverage as those states that are trying to break their NPT commitments. Bad behavior gets rewarded, and we are looking at ways to change this and encourage peaceful use of nuclear technology. Closing the meeting, Hobbs said she would be going to Mexico before the NPT Revcon.

6. (C) Comment: We had let it be known through our Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacts that Ambassador Sanders and her team did not appreciate Minister Hobbs' linking of U.S. NPT disarmament commitments with Iran's nonproliferation obligations (Ref b). The Minister knew she had offended the group in some way (and remarked on this briefly to Pol-Econ Couns at an official dinner the next night) but seemed genuinely surprised at the reason. While Minister Hobbs had sought out the meeting with the DCM and went to huge lengths to stress that New Zealand believes all nuclear states must disarm, she stopped short of saying that Iran poses a greater threat. Although Deputy Foreign Secretary Rosemary Banks assured us the day after our meeting that this was because Hobbs wanted to avoid all Iran/U.S. analogies this time, it's also clear that Hobbs (and others in the GONZ) still believe that nuclear states must disarm if others are to be successfully encouraged to give up their nuclear weapons programs. End Comment.


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