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05WELLINGTON301 2005-04-12 04:14:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Wellington
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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 use
Article 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.