Drone strikes more right than wrong, Key says

By Michael Botur

2011 file photo, a Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. Photo / AP
2011 file photo, a Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. Photo / AP

New Zealand has no issue with US drones striking terrorists in Iraq, PM John Key told TV1's Q+A this morning.

"They sometimes go wrong and that's a great tragedy.

"On balance of benefit, are they more often right than they're wrong? I think the answer is 'yes'," he said following a meeting with US President Barack Obama.

"We certainly discussed the air strikes and what's happening in Iraq," Mr Key said. "There's absolutely no appetite to go back to a conventional war."

The terrorist group ISIL or ISIS "have been designated by New Zealand as a terrorist group," Mr Key said. "If there was a drone strike in Iraq I don't think the Americans would come to us and say 'New Zealand, do you offer your moral support?'

"The Yemenese Government have requested support from the Americans in the form of those drone strikes against Al Qaeda.

As you've seen in the past, I haven't condemned that' Far from it, I've actually said that those terrorists are undertaking literally terrorist activities."

Key said it was "correct" that a drone strike wouldn't be considered the same as a war. "It would be at the invitation of the Iraqi Government against a designated terrorist group."

However, New Zealand won't be asked by the US to offer a view on drone strikes, Mr Key said, "any more than we're asked to offer a view in Yemen, and that's ongoing, when we've been pitching for the Security Council seat."

The Herald on Sunday reported on June 8 that New Zealander Daryl Jones, also known as Muslim bin John, was killed by a drone in Yemen in November last year.

Jones had been known to New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade since May 2012.

Mr Key said it was possible friendlier relations with the US mean we would now see a nuclear vessel visiting New Zealand.

"It would require whoever the prime minister of the day is to sign that piece of paper that says it's either not carrying nuclear weapons or not nuclear fuelled," Mr Key said.

"But I think that's possible one day."

- APNZ

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