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Australia, New Zealand, United States (ANZUS)

The Australia, New Zealand, United States (ANZUS) security treaty was concluded at San Francisco on September 1, 1951, and entered into force on April 29, 1952. The treaty bound the signatories to recognize that an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of them would endanger the peace and safety of the others. It committed them to consult in the event of a threat and, in the event of attack, to meet the common danger in accordance with their respective constitutional processes. The three nations also pledged to maintain and develop individual and collective capabilities to resist attack.

In 1984, the nature of the ANZUS alliance changed after the Government of New Zealand refused access to its ports by nuclear-weapons-capable and nuclear-powered ships of the U.S. Navy. Growing concern about nuclear testing in the South Pacific and arms control issues contributed to the 1984 election of a Labour government committed to barring nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered warships from New Zealand ports. The government's anti-nuclear policy proved incompatible with long-standing, worldwide U.S. policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence or absence of nuclear weapons onboard U.S. vessels.

Implementation of New Zealand's policy effectively prevented practical alliance cooperation under ANZUS, and after extensive efforts to resolve the issue proved unsuccessful, in August 1986 the United States suspended its ANZUS security obligations to New Zealand. Even after President George H.W. Bush's 1991 announcement that U.S. surface ships do not normally carry nuclear weapons, New Zealand's legislation prohibiting visits of nuclear-powered ships continues to preclude a bilateral security alliance with the U.S. The legislation enjoys broad public and political support in New Zealand. The United States would welcome New Zealand's reassessment of its legislation to permit that country's return to full ANZUS cooperation.

The United States suspended defense obligations to New Zealand, and annual bilateral meetings between the U.S. Secretary of State and the Australian Foreign Minister replaced annual meetings of the ANZUS Council of Foreign Ministers. The first bilateral meeting was held in Canberra in 1985. At the second, in San Francisco in 1986, the United States and Australia announced that the United States was suspending its treaty security obligations to New Zealand pending the restoration of port access. Since 1985, U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense and the Australian Foreign and Defense Ministers have held 20 Australia-U.S. Ministerial consultations (AUSMIN), alternating between Australia and the United States. The next AUSMIN is scheduled to take place in Australia in 2010.

The U.S.-Australia alliance under the ANZUS Treaty remains in full force. AUSMIN meetings are supplemented by consultations between the U.S. Combatant Commander, Pacific and the Australian Chief of Defense Force. There also are regular civilian and military consultations between the two governments at lower levels.

ANZUS has no integrated defense structure or dedicated forces. However, in fulfillment of ANZUS obligations, Australia and the United States conduct a variety of joint activities. These include military exercises ranging from naval and landing exercises at the task-group level to battalion-level special forces training to numerous smaller-scale exercises, assigning officers to each other's armed services, and standardizing, where possible, equipment and operational doctrine. The two countries also operate joint defense facilities in Australia.

Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, then-Prime Minister Howard and U.S. President George W. Bush jointly invoked the ANZUS Treaty for the first time on September 14, 2001. Australia was one of the earliest participants in Operation Enduring Freedom. Australian Defense Forces participated in coalition military action against Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Australian combat forces began their withdrawal from Iraq in mid-2008 and forces are to be fully removed by July 2009. Australia has approximately 1,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan and also provides significant development and capacity building assistance to the country. Based on growing defense commitments, Australia decided to increase the Australian Army from 26,000 to 30,000 over the next several years. This will enable the reestablishment of two infantry battalions, as well as enabling troops, such as a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) unit.




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