In Cold War, Russia targeted Australia’s USA military bases, not our cities
risks of nuclear attacks on the Pine Gap signals intelligence satellite ground station in central Australia and the missile launch detection facility at Nurrungar
Secret’s out: Soviets did not target cities http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/secrets-out-soviets-did-not-target-cities-20120805-23ny1.html#ixzz22nPnXqyD August 6, 2012 Philip Dorling THE US-Australian joint defence installations were almost certainly Russian nuclear targets during the Cold War. However, Australia’s cities might well have survived unscathed if superpower tensions had erupted into a global conflagration, according to a top secret intelligence assessment released by the National Archives of Australia.
More than three decades after it was written, the Australian government has finally declassified its most secret study of the
potential impact on Australia of a nuclear war between the US and the former Soviet Union.
Unlike the apocalyptic scenario in author Nevil Shute’s novel On the
Beach, the Office of National Assessments largely dismissed any danger
to the nation from global radioactive fallout or stratospheric
distribution of smoke from burning cities.
The office questioned if Australian cities would be targets for Soviet
missiles, suggesting the US’s southern hemisphere ally would be a
”low priority” in a global nuclear exchange.
‘In the aftermath of strategic nuclear war, there would be massive
economic, demographic and political change in the northern hemisphere,
which would pose much more serious problems for Australia than
radioactive fallout,” the office told the then prime minister,
Malcolm Fraser, in December 1980.
In a strategic assessment written in the context of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, the office warned that the US-Australian naval communications station at North West Cape in Western Australia would be a high-priority nuclear target if Cold War tensions led to
”As the nuclear conflict escalated and the prospects of its
containment receded, we judge that nuclear attacks on some or all of
[the joint defence] facilities would probably occur,” the office
advised. ”Where each side was using, or was judged likely to use, its
submarine forces to strike at the opposition’s cities, the USSR would
rank North West Cape as an important target.”
The risks of nuclear attacks on the Pine Gap signals intelligence
satellite ground station in central Australia and the missile launch
detection facility at Nurrungar were considered ”somewhat lower”
because those facilities were ”not an integral part of an offensive
strategic nuclear weapons system”. However, the office thought it
probable that they would be targeted in an all-out nuclear exchange.
It was anticipated an attack on North West Cape would kill some 2000
people in Exmouth. Strikes against Pine Gap and Nurrungar raised the
possibility of radioactive fallout over Alice Springs, Woomera and
other towns in northern South Australia and it was considered a small
risk of fallout over Adelaide could require ”temporary evacuation”.
Nevertheless, the office argued that ”in the scale of horrors usually
associated with nuclear war, the direct physical effects on Australia
of an attack on the joint defence facilities would not be
catastrophic; apart, possibly, from Adelaide, the main Australian
cities would not be significantly affected”.
Direct attacks on Australian cities were acknowledged as a possibility
but the intelligence agency’s view was that the Soviet Union ”would
probably see Australian cities as low-priority nuclear targets”.
The veteran Australian nuclear disarmament campaigner Helen Caldicott
was highly critical, saying the agency had ”severely downplayed” the
threat to Australian cities and the risks of global radioactive
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