When questioned whether he had a more relaxed attitude to New Zealand’s nuclear-free stance than other prime ministers, Mr Key said he was “very cognisant” of his responsibilities to meet the law.
“The Americans have for a long time had a neither confirm nor deny policy, but they’ve also had enough open source intelligence about which particular ships are either nuclear-armed or carry nuclear weapons,” he said at his post-cabinet press conference today.
“Foreign Affairs can make an assessment in its own right whether something is nuclear-powered or capable.
“Whether they ask them or do it through open source intelligence I don’t know, a lot of ships aren’t nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered,” he said, when asked if MFAT would rely on Google for information on US ships.
The anti-nuclear legislation affects any navy ship that comes to New Zealand, and in 1985 a visit by the USS Buchanan was blocked because the US wouldn’t confirm or deny its nuclear capabilities.