there are grounds to be hopeful about decisive progress on a circuit-breaker. The first ever intergovernmental conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons have been held – three in the past two years. These have led to 113 nations signing a humanitarian pledge committing them to work to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
In a welcome development, the recent ALP national conference adopted a policy that recognises that eliminating nuclear weapons is a humanitarian imperative. The policy commits Labor to support negotiation of a global treaty banning nuclear weapons
Ban the bomb: 70 years on, the nuclear threat looms as large as ever, The Conversation, Tilman Ruff Associate Professor, International Education and Learning Unit, Nossal Institute for Global Health, School of Population and Global Health at University of Melbourne August 6, 2015 “……..The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Rumours had been circulating in Hiroshima that the city was being saved for something special. It was. The burst of ionising radiation, blast, heat and subsequent firestorm that engulfed the city on August 6 killed 140,000 people by the end of 1945. Many were incinerated or dismembered instantly; others succumbed over hours, days, weeks and months from cruel combinations of traumatic injury, burns and radiation sickness.
Three days later, another B-29 carrying a bomb equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT headed for Kokura. Because of clouds blocking visibility, its cargo was dropped over Nagasaki instead, raining similar radioactive ruin and killing 90,000 people by the end of 1945.
In both cities, ground temperatures reached about 7000° Celsius. Radioactive black rain poured down after the explosions.
In both weapons, less than one kilogram of material was fissioned. The physics of the Hiroshima bomb were so simple and predictable that the bomb was not tested prior to use. The Nagasaki plutonium bomb required a more sophisticated design. A prototype was exploded at Alamogordo in New Mexico on July 16, 1945, detonated by Australian nuclear physicist Ernest Titterton.
The survivors of the two bombings bore the legacy of terrible injuries and scars on top of the cataclysmic trauma of what they witnessed. They also faced discrimination and ostracism, reduced opportunities for employment and marriage, and increased risks of cancer and chronic disease, which stalk them, even 70 years later, for the rest of their days. Continue reading
‘Missile Defense’ is Destabilizing by Bruce K. Gagnon http://space4peace.blogspot.com.au/“….The Global Network will carry this with us to Kyoto, Japan from July 29-Aug 2 for our 23rd annual space organizing conference that is being hosted by peace activists from across the Kyoto Prefecture.
The US recently deployed a ‘missile defense’ radar in Kyoto Prefecture and the Ukawa village has been resisting the deployment for some time. During the conference we will take a side trip to join the villagers in a protest against the radar that is being aimed at China.
The US is now deploying “missile defense’ systems throughout the Asia-Pacific on land and on-board Navy Aegis destroyers. These interceptors play an important role in US first-strike attack planning.
They are now deployed in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Guam, Australia, and the Philippines. Taken together these interceptor systems serve as a loaded gun pointed at the head of China. Beijing has responded by building more nuclear weapons to ensure they have a “survivable retaliatory capability” and have moved many of their more vulnerable land-based nuclear weapons onto submarines so they are harder to hit in a possible Pentagon first-strike attack.
The US Space Command has been annually war gaming such a first-strike attack on China and Russia for many years. In the computer war game the US fires weapons from space and through space in order to take out the “enemy” nuclear forces. Then when China or Russia attempt to fire their remaining retaliatory forces the US ‘missile defense’ systems are used as a shield against them giving the Pentagon a theoretical successful first-strike.
Since the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty the US has been encircling both Russia and China with the destabilizing systems.
Changing face of Australia’s security posture http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/changing-face-of-australias-security-posture-20150515-gh2unk.html May 16, 2015 John Garnaut, Asia-Pacific editor So it turns out the US military is not about to base huge B-1 bombers and surveillance planes on Australian air fields to patrol the maritime peripheries of China.
David Shear, the senior Pentagon official who announced what would have been one of the most significant shifts in recent Australian military history, simply got it wrong.
But the fact that Mr Shear “misspoke” does obscure the fact that serious and lasting changes in Australia’s security posture are underway.
Last month 1150 American marines arrived for their fourth dry-season rotation near Darwin, in what is the most visible product of US President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia. Those numbers are growing each year and will reach 2500 by 2017.
Australian and US officials have also talked about expanding the Stirling naval base at Fremantle, according to sources on both sides, but those facilities are judged to be too far from the potential action.
The allies have also actively considered using the Cocos Islands as a base for unmanned surveillance drones to patrol the lucrative sea lanes that thread through the Malacca Straits and spread across the South China Sea, according to officials.
And while B-1 bombers and spy planes won’t be based in Australia anytime soon it’s only a matter of time before they are invited to take part in exercises across the vast Delamere air weapons range near Katherine.
According to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, this mushrooming of alliance commitments is “not aimed at anyone”. It’s certainly not aimed at China, he claimed, while hosing down the explosive Pentagon claims yesterday. But none of this makes sense in the absence of China.
Defence planners and political leaders from Canberra to New Delhi to Washington are alarmed at China’s rapid military build-up, its non-transparency and, above all, the coercive measures that China has been recently taking along its southern and eastern maritime periphery.
If Prime Minister Tony Abbott is using semantics to obscure his concerns about China, why should we believe his denial of the Pentagon’s B-1 bomber basing plans? One answer is about simple logistics: Australia is too far away.
“I’m not playing with words here … I think this guy was off the reservation,” said a senior Australian official, shooting down the Pentagon official’s claims. “When they’ve got Guam why would they conduct surveillance from Australia?”
Australia’s claimed reliance on the US’ nuclear arsenal hijacks any meaningful contribution to disarmament. Most endorsers of the Australian-led humanitarian statement are similarly thwarted by their commitment to the nuclear weapons of their allies. Meanwhile, many other countries are refusing to accept and enable indefinite inaction.
While Australia remains tolerant of nuclear weapons, thankfully Austria and the majority of states are seeking new methods and action, now. This process is bound to go ahead with or without the nuclear weapons states.
The Australian Government should respond to the 84% of the Australian public who want their government to support a nuclear weapons ban (2014 Nielsen poll) and stop encouraging the reckless behaviour of the nuclear minority.
Gem Romuld, 6 May 15 Despite being close in name, the gap between Australia and Austria on the issue of nuclear disarmament is stark. Austria is at the forefront of a global push to stigmatize, ban and eliminate nuclear weapons, whereas Australia is leading efforts to undermine this push.
During the first week of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, currently underway in New York, the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms Gillian Bird, delivered a statement expressing concern that 45 years since the NPT entered into force, “some 16,000 nuclear warheads still exist”. But she dismissed the “call for a treaty banning nuclear weapons”, and stated Australia’s support for “practical, realistic measures to achieve actual nuclear disarmament”. Elaboration on these unambitious measures was saved for the 26-nation Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, not to be confused with the much stronger Austrian-led 159-nation Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences ofNuclear Weapons.
Both ‘humanitarian statements’ acknowledged the renewed focus on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, catalysed by the three conferences that have been held on the subject since February 2013 by the Norwegian, Mexican and Austrian Governments. The Austrian-led statement said that the “humanitarian focus is now well established on the global agenda” and affirmed that “the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination”. The Australian-led statement claims there are “no short cuts”, implying that the slow, and thus far ineffective, steps to disarmament are the only way to reach a world without nuclear weapons. Continue reading
Nuclear submarine option pushed by industry Financial Review by John Kerin, 24 Mar 15, Australia’s peak defence industry group has urged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to reconsider buying or leasing a nuclear submarine fleet to replace the ageing Collins class, saying the absence of a supporting domestic nuclear power industry no longer presents a hurdle.
Australian Industry Group Defence Council chairman Chris Jenkins, who is also the Australian chief of French industry giant Thales, said today’s submarine nuclear power plants were so efficient and required so little maintenance that an onshore nuclear power industry was hardly a requirement.
He said nuclear submarine powerplant technology was constantly improving and you would need a trained workforce but not necessarily a power industry to support it.
The defence council is the peak body representing the’s $8 billion 24,000 strong defence sector. “That’s been said [you need a nuclear power industry] but I think nuclear energy these days is much more modularised than people think….like anything else [the submarine] powerplant is manageable,” Mr Jenkins said.
“The idea of a nuclear industry as a fundamental necessity, I am not convinced, but I did think it was quite a good thing that there was a call for a really deep review from South Australia in to nuclear energy,” Mr Jenkins said.
Mr Jenkins was referring to a royal commission called by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill into the development of nuclear power.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews will deliver the opening address at a major two-day summit on Australia’s Future Submarine, where experts are expected to fiercely debate the competitive evaluation process given ongoing concerns over the future of Adelaide based ASC and jobs in Adelaide……..
the French firm DCNS has offered a diesel powered version of its 5000 tonne Barracuda submarine.The nuclear version of the Barracuda will be in service with the French Navy from 2017.
But its understood DCNS could offer the nuclear version of the Barracuda from around 2030 if Canberra wished to go down that route……..
Mr Jenkins said. “Given the concern over jobs, South Australia should be as keen to know the answer as anyone because it would undoubtedly be the centre of Australia’s nuclear industry,” he said. http://www.afr.com/news/politics/nuclear-submarine-option-pushed-by-industry-20150324-1m5cpx
Dennis Matthews, 20 Mar 15 It’s not difficult to find out that the world’s nuclear waste is not neatly segregated into “military” and “non-military”. The processes that create the waste, such as separating out the various isotopes of uranium, chemical processing prior to this separation, and the processing of spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors all occur at facilities that service both the nuclear weapons and the nuclear power industries.
Weatherill’s Royal Commission has been charged with looking into importing nuclear waste but has been explicitly told not to include nuclear use for military or defence purposes. If the Commission doesn’t study the close physical connection between the military and non-military uses then it is closing its mind to one of the reasons why South Australia shouldn’t have anything to do with the nuclear industry.
It’s pretty obvious that Weatherill and the nuclear lobby don’t want to look into this because it would inevitably lead to a result that they don’t want to know about. More the pity for South Australia.
Study says SA plan would lift nuclear latency Sky News , 11 March 2015 South Australian plans for a nuclear industry would take Australia well down the path to a nuclear weapons capability, a new study says.
That’s termed ‘nuclear latency’ – the potential for a country to build atomic bombs.
‘The recent move by the South Australian government to examine nuclear industry development options would contribute significantly to Australia’s own nuclear latency,’ said analyst Michael Malyshev in a paper released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute………
Mr Malyshev said that in the 1960s, US president John F. Kennedy expressed fear that 20-30 countries could develop nuclear weapons in a few years as nuclear knowledge and technology became more widely available.
To keep track, various international watchdogs such as the International Atomic Energy Agency established the concept of nuclear latency.
No developed nation has zero latency and about four dozen countries have significant nuclear latency. Most, including Australia, are also signatories to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Mr Malyshev said nuclear watchdogs and other entities, including intelligence services, needed to remain vigilant.
The Australian government faces a moment of truth – will we continue to hide behind the myth of “extended nuclear deterrence”, willing to risk our true security and the incineration of millions in our name, or will we finally step up and get on the right side of history?
Malcolm Fraser was prime minister from 1975 to 1983. Tilman Ruff is Associate Professor at the Nossal Institute for Global Health.
2015 is the year to ban nuclear weapons http://www.theage.com.au/comment/2015-is-the-year-to-ban-nuclear-weapons-20150219-13jali.html February 19, 2015 Malcolm Fraser and Tilman Ruff
Australian uranium might end up in the hands of India as part of the country’s nuclear weapons program. Two experts on nuclear power believe the concessions agreed between the two nations could lead to this scenario.
Ronald Walker, a former Australian ambassador and chairman of the international Atomic Energy Agency, said the Abbott government’s deal to sell the country’s uranium to India has “drastically changed” Australia’s longstanding policy on safeguards. He added that the agreement has risked countries playing with nuclear weapons, reports The Guardian.
Risk of nuclear weapons building
Walker told a hearing of the parliamentary joint standing committee on treaties that deal with India is different from Australia’s 23 other uranium export deals. He believes the uranium agreement between Australia and India will only cause damage to the non-proliferation regime………. John Carlson, the head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office between 1989 and 2010, shares the same view with Walker. He said it would be inexcusable for Australia to push through with the agreement. According to the provisions of the deal, Australian material can be used to make unsafeguarded plutonium that may potentially end up in India’s nuclear weapon program……..http://au.ibtimes.com/risk-australian-uranium-indian-nuclear-weapons-spark-worries-1421523
A former Australian diplomat and chairman of the International Atomic EnergyAgency (IAEA), Ronald Walker, said the agreement to sell uranium to India “drastically changes longstanding policy” on safeguards and risked playing “fast and loose” with nuclear weapons.
It differed substantially from Australia’s 23 other uranium export deals and “would do damage to the non-proliferation regime”, Walker told a hearing of the parliamentary joint standing committee on treaties this week.
The prime minister signed an agreement to make Australia a “long-term, reliable supplier of uranium to India” in Delhi in September, but the terms of the deal are yet to be endorsed by the committee.
Walker’s concerns were echoed by John Carlson, the head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (Asno) between 1989 and 2010, who said proceeding with the agreement would be “inexcusable”.
Its provisions meant Australian material “could be used to produce unsafeguarded plutonium that ends up in India’s nuclear weapon program”, Carlson said………… Continue reading
Lingering impact of British nuclear tests in the Australian outback http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-30640338 Jon DonnisonSydney correspondent 1 Jan 2015, “It seems remarkable today but less than 60 years ago, Britain was exploding nuclear bombs in the middle of Australia. In the mid-1950s, seven bombs were tested at Maralinga in the south-west Australian outback. The combined force of the weapons doubled that of the bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in World War Two.
In archive video footage, British and Australian soldiers can be seen looking on, wearing short sleeves and shorts and doing little to protect themselves other than turning their backs and covering their eyes with their hands.
Some reported the flashes of the blasts being so bright that they could see the bones of their fingers, like x-rays as they pressed against their faces.Much has been written about the health problems suffered by the servicemen as a result of radiation poisoning.
Far less well-documented is the plight of the Aboriginal people who were living close to Maralinga at the time.
“Every night I cry for them,” Hilary Williams tells me as she sits around a campfire for an impromptu picnic of kangaroo tails laid on for our visit.
Her mother and grandparents all witnessed at least one of the explosions from just a few kilometres away.
Ms Williams said all three of them died young after suffering lung problems.
“It’s so sad. They’re not here anymore,” she said, adding that she had heart problems she believes were also linked to the bombs.Locals around Maralinga spoke about a black mist of radioactive dust over their communities following the explosions.
“A lot of people got sick and died,” said Mima Smart, an aboriginal community leader.
“It was like a cancer on them. People were having lung disease, liver problems, and kidney problems. A lot of them died,” she said, adding that communities around Maralinga have been paid little by way of compensation……….
Robin Matthews, caretaker of the Maralinga Nuclear Test Site. “They thought they’d pick a supposedly uninhabited spot out in the Australian desert. Only they got it wrong. There were people here.”
During the 1960s and 70s, there were several large clean-up operations to try and decontaminate the site. All the test buildings and equipment were destroyed and buried. Large areas of the surface around the blast sites was also scraped up and buried.
But Mr Matthews said the clean-up, as well as the tests themselves, were done very much behind closed doors with a high level of secrecy. “You’ve got to remember that this was during the height of the Cold War. The British were terrified that Russian spies might try and access the site,” he said.
The indigenous communities say many locals involved in the clean-up operation also got sick..
Maralinga has long been declared safe. There are even plans to open up the site to tourism. But it was only a few months ago that the last of the land was finally handed back to the Aboriginal people. Most, though, say they have no desire to return there.
Mima Smart told me she regards Maralinga as sick land. “I don’t want to go back. Too many bad memories.”
And even almost 60 years on, the land still hasn’t recovered. Huge concrete plinths mark the spots where each of the bombs was detonated.
Around each, the blast area would have stretched for several kilometres.The orangey red soil of the outback sparkles strangely green.If you look closely, you can see the ground is covered with what looks like broken glass, where the soil got so hot it literally melted and turned to silicon.
And even after all this time, the natural vegetation still won’t grow back. “The grass here only ever grows a few inches,” said Mr Matthews. “Even the birds and the kangaroos still stay clear of this area.”
More than half a century on, most people here still regard Maralinga as a dark chapter in British Australian history
Hawke government schemed to stymie Maralinga nuclear test compensation, cabinet documents reveal http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/hawke-government-schemed-to-stymie-maralinga-nuclear-test-compensation-cabinet-documents-reveal/story-fni6uo1m-1227171284110 PETER JEAN POLITICAL REPORTER THE ADVERTISER JAN 1, 2015 THE statute of limitations was invoked by the Hawke Government to prevent hundreds of compensation actions being pursued in court by veterans of British nuclear tests in Australia.
Government documents from 1988 and 1989 released by the National Archives of Australia reveal that cabinet decided to try and invoke time-limit rules to fight court compensation actions launched after 1988. Continue reading
The 16,000 Australian service men involved in the tests were sworn to secrecy by ASIO agents under the threat of jail. The general population was made part a large secret experiment to see whether the human race could survive a nuclear attack.
This book is also a warning for the present. Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to create a nuclear waste dump in central Australia to bring in millions of dollars. The Australian people must be vigilant and active as our governments and politicians cannot be trusted.
Australia’s two decades as a radioactive laboratory https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/57965, December 8, 2014 By Coral Wynter The British government, with the complicity of the Menzies government, used Australia as a laboratory to test the short and long-term effects of exposure to radioactivity.
Maralinga: The Chilling Expose of Our Secret Nuclear Shame & Betrayal of Our Troops & Country By Frank Walker Hachette, 2014
Frank Walker, who worked as a journalist for Australian and international publications for 38 years, was talking to his daughter’s university friends one day and discovered they had no idea atomic bombs had been exploded in Australia.
In fact, 12 had ― excluding the 300-600 minor trials at Maralinga, Emu Field, both in the South Australian desert, and Monte Bello Islands off the Western Australian coast.
Walker had been interviewing soldiers, navy and air force victims and decided to expose the veil of secrecy on their ghastly experiences.
The atomic tests began in 1952 and continued until 1957. However, minor trials with dirty radioactive clouds, and uranium and plutonium waste, did not stop until 1963.
The British government, with the total complicity of the then-Menzies government, used Australian land and people as a laboratory to test the short and long-term effects of exposure to radioactivity. Continue reading
Australian support for France’s nuclear force, Islands Business, By Nic Maclellan , 27 Nov In his final press conference during his state visit to Australia, French President Francois Hollande praised the contribution of Australian companies to France’s nuclear strike force. However the full translation of these comments went missing from the transcript published by Prime Minister Abbott’s office.
Standing beside Tony Abbott at a joint press conference in Canberra on 19 November, French President Francois Hollande highlighted the important collaboration of French and Australian corporations in the defence sector.
Speaking in French, he stated: “We are allies as well through our defence industries, because we manufacture – our French and Australian companies manufacture – processes, notably for the most essential equipment for the French strategic force, the French nuclear force, a part of this equipment is manufactured here in Australia.”
Hollande’s endorsement of the contribution by Australian corporations to France’s nuclear strike capacity can be seen on the video released by the French Presidential Palace (quote starts at 9:03 minutes): http://www.elysee.fr/videos/conference-de-presse-conjointe-avec-m-tony-abbott-premier-ministre-de-l-australie/
However, when you go to the English-language transcript of the press conference on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s website, part of the translation is missing. There’s a reference to “France’s strategic strength”, but the words “the French nuclear strike force” are nowhere to be found!
Maybe the word “nuclear” brings back memories of Moruroa Atoll and the Rainbow Warrior, and the tense relationship between the two countries during thirty years of French nuclear testing in the south Pacific.
Hollande’s formal state visit – the first ever by a French President – was supposed to transcend past rivalries. Media coverage of the President’s visit highlighted joint action on trade and terrorism, the emotional link of Villers-Bretonneux and the slaughter of World War One diggers in France. But both governments are reluctant to talk about modern strategic warfare.
France resists international calls for comprehensive disarmament negotiations and maintains a significant nuclear arsenal, with an estimated 300 nuclear warheads. Successive Australian governments also refuse to criticise extended nuclear deterrence. Last October, 155 countries endorsed a New Zealand statement to the United Nations on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. Canberra refused to sign on and put forward a counter-resolution, a worrying diplomatic stand as we move towards the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, to be held in Vienna on 8-9 December……….http://www.islandsbusiness.com/news/australia/6411/australian-support-for-frances-nuclear-force/
Australia’s Future Fund invests in nuclear weapons development and our banks are happy to provide capital as well.
The protesters were drawing attention to the fact that the federal government’s $101 billion Future Fund invests more than $260 million in foreign companies involved in the manufacture of nuclear weapons (and that figure has increased by $33 million since last June)…….. Continue reading