AUSTRALIA’S NUCLEAR HISTORY – theme for August 2012
In some ways, Australia’s uranium/nuclear history is a sorry story.
Australia’s very earliest involvement (up to 1915) was in mining and processing radium whichwas used for medical research. But from 1944 onwards, Australia was involved in nuclear weapons – through both providing the fuel for USA and UK weapons, and in the 1950s, hosting Britain’s nuclear weapons testing.
Australia has continued to sell uranium, under cloak of pretense that it does not end up in nuclear weapons. To our shame, the government now agrees to sell to India, which has not signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, and which is rapidly militarising with nuclear weapons.
Australia still, by the secret facilities at Pine Gap, participates in the USA’s nuclear military system. Our greatest disgrace is the shameful way in which the Aboriginal people have been exploited, and have suffered, through the uranium/nuclear industry.
In some other ways, it is a history to be proud of.
Australia has a proud history of anti nuclear activity, going right back to the 1960s. Anti nuclear activism in Australia put the brakes on the uranium industry for along time. Among Australia’s anti nuclear activists, Dr Helen Caldicott stands out as the world’s best known and most articulate and respected speaker on the nuclear danger. Our anti nuclear movement also led to the end of France’s nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific. It has saved Australia from having nuclear power plants, and getting an international nuclear waste dump.
More recently, Australian anti nuclear activism in South Australia and Western Australia, is contributing to the slowdown, and hopefully the decline and fall of uranium mining – an industry which, by any measure, never contributed more than an insignificant amount to the economy, anyway.
The battle continues, to save this country, and especially its Aboriginal lands, from this toxic industry - now in the fight against the government’s plan for a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, Northern Territory.
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