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ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, U.S.) Treaty Alliance

The ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, U.S.) Treaty Alliance was formed in 1951 at the initiative of Australia and New Zealand. The three signatories pledged to "maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist attack." Each recognized that an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of them posed a danger to the peace and safety of the other two, and each agreed "to meet the common danger in accordance with its respective constitutional processes." From its inception ANZUS produced different perceptions of its meaning and intent in the minds of Australians, New Zealanders, and Americans. As a treaty it was a cornerstone to the security of Australia and New Zealand, but it was of low significance among the security priorities of the United States.

ANZUS played a vital role in helping to assure peace and stability in the Southwest Pacific region. Access to allied ports by U.S. naval vessels, including nuclear-capable and nuclear-powered warships, made an important contribution to the flexibility and effectiveness of U.S. naval forces in the Pacific. Globally, ANZUS was part of the Western alliance system that had been effective in promoting arms control and, through deterrence, lessening the risk of conflict. ANZUS also provided a framework for additional cooperation including military exercises, unit exchanges, joint training, standardization and interoperability of equipment and weapons systems, intelligence and personnel exchanges, and regular high-level political exchanges.

During the Cold War, critics of ANZUS in both Australia and New Zealand charged that participating in the alliance made their countries more vulnerable to nuclear attack. The Australian Government regarded cooperation with the U.S., including important joint defense facilities located in Australia, as worthwhile in order to enhance deterrence, make nuclear war less likely, and increase prospects for verifiable arms control.

In contrast, as of July, 1984, New Zealand's Labor Government adopted a policy that precluded visits by nuclear-capable and nuclear-powered U.S. ships in order to protest "things nuclear." The New Zealand Government contended that the country's location -- far from potential adversaries -- rendered any nuclear defense unnecessary and therefore unwarranted

The U.S. was pro-ANZUS, not pro-nuclear. The US shared New Zealand's concern about the risk of nuclear war and emphasized a desire to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. The US view was that New Zealand port ban policy undermined the very security arrangements designed to prevent war, and harms, rather than helps, our efforts to achieve arms control goals.

New Zealand's denial of port access resulted from the U.S. "neither confirm, nor deny" policy governing the presence or absence of nuclear weapons on board visiting nuclear capable ships. New Zealand's policies on port and air access effectively precluded visits by threatening to compromise this universally applied policy. That policy was considered essential to avoid providing potential adversaries with critical intelligence about the most militarily capable ships. Moreover, more than 40 percent of US naval combatants in the 1980s were nuclear-powered. New Zealand's policies thus prevented practical alliance cooperation under ANZUS and precluded U.S. implementation of defense commitments to New Zealand.

On August 11, 1986, after extensive efforts to resolve the port access issue were unsuccessful, the U.S. announced that it was suspending its security obligations to New Zealand under ANZUS. The U.S. could not give credence to the argument that alliance status is compatible with highly selective security cooperation.

The legal framework of ANZUS remained intact. After suspension of U.S. security obligations, the New Zealand Government reaffirmed the importance it attached to further development of political, economic, and social ties among the ANZUS partners, especially with Australia. New Zealand also asserted that it is prepared to meet regional and ANWS security responsibilities through conventional defense. Australia expressed its hopes that New Zealand would change policies to permit full operation again of ANZUS. Since August 1986, the U.S. took a low-key approach toward a more limited relationship with New Zealand, based on reciprocity and treatment of New Zealand as a non-allied friend. Sharply curtailed defense and security cooperation with New Zealand continues, but New Zealand had lost the special access and influence normally accorded an ally.

Under ANZUS, a strong and dynamic security relationship with the US and Australia continued. The U.S. and Australia looked forward to the time when New Zealand's port access policies will make it possible to resume a normal allied defense relationship, and they sought to keep the ANZUS structure intact for eventual return to trilateral defense cooperation. The decline of ANZUS as a strategic partnership contributed to an erosion of New Zealand Defence Force capabilities and has left a security void in the South Pacific.

As a means of continuing to foster and capitalize on the close cooperation between the Allies during World War II, the Plan to Effect Standardization was initiated in 1947 between the Armies of the United States, Britain and Canada - the ABC Armies. In 1954, the Basic Standardization Concept replaced this Plan. In 1963, Australia joined the organization. With the ratification of the Basic Standardization Agreement 1964 (BSA 64) on 10 October 1964 by the Armies of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), Canada (CA) and Australia (AS), the current ABCA Armies' Program was formally established as the American, British, Canadian, Australian Armies' Standardization Program. By the invitation of the ABCA Armies, New Zealand (NZ) was granted observer status in the Program under the sponsorship of AS in 1965. New Zealand was officially accepted as a full member in March 2006 but the title remained unchanged as the ABCA Armies' Program.

The Defense Standardization Program Office (DSPO) International Standardization Program aim is to promote the use and implementation of standardization as one of the essential elements to interoperability with allies and partners. Generally, the DSPO International Standardization Program focuses on International Standardization Agreements (ISAs) generated by military treaty alliance organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); the American, British, Canadian, and Australian Armies (ABCA); the Air and Space Interoperability Council (ASIC); and the Australia Canada New Zealand United Kingdom and United States Naval C4 Organization (AUSCANNZUKUS).



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