22 Jul 2016

Nuclear-free has 'served us well' - Geoffrey Palmer

8:39 am on 22 July 2016

An architect of New Zealand's once contentious anti-nuclear law says it remains the right approach for the country.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer

Sir Geoffrey Palmer Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

The law is in the spotlight as preparations begin for the first visit by an American warship since the landmark legislation was passed in 1987.

Under the law, the Prime Minister must make an assessment of whether the ship will breach New Zealand's ban on nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

The US has not sent a naval ship since 1983, as it refuses to say whether its ships are nuclear-armed, as required by New Zealand's nuclear-free law.

The deputy prime minister at the time the nuclear-free law was passed, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, told Morning Report the policy, and the law behind it, was sound.

He said the world was even more unsafe now than it was then, in terms of nuclear weapons.

"I really do think that in this very unsafe world, New Zealand needs as many friends as it can have, and it needs to be independent.

"I think the independent foreign policy has served us well."