Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

US spy facilities at Pine Gap and Nurrungar are targeted by Russian nuclear missiles

Vladimir Putin ups the ante with reminders Russia is a nuclear power October 18, 2014 –  Sydney Morning Herald political and international editor  “……..jokes about nuclear weapons are an uneasy genre of humour. Russia’s nuclear arsenal is the ultimate reality of its power. It sits at the back of every conversation and calculation about Russia….. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has put his country’s 5000 nuclear warheads at the forefront. Three times in the past two months, he has raised the spectre of nuclear war as he confronts the West.

Most recently, he did it overnight Thursday Australian time while he was en route to a summit of 50 nations, the annual Asia-Europe Meeting, in Milan. “He’s again threatened the West with nuclear weapons,” says John Besemeres, a Russia expert at the ANU……..

Russian missiles do have the range to strike NZ. Or Australia.

“There is a low probability that Russian nuclear weapons are aimed at Australia, with one possible exception,” says Peter Jennings, formerly head of strategy at the Australian Defence Department and now head of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

pinegap1“That would be the joint facilities” – the US-Australian satellite tracking bases at Pine Gap and Nurrungar from which US spy satellites over eastern Russia are controlled. “The joint facilities are the only thing that may be relevant to the US ability to launch an attack on Russia.”

Soviet officials bluntly told Australian defence officials during the Cold War that warheads were aimed at the joint facilities.

map-Australia-targets-

And today, “they are certainly on the Russian target list,” says O’Neil, who is knowledgeable on Russian nuclear policy……….

Analysts have remarked in recent weeks that Putin seems to be seeking to re-engage with the wider world. With Western sanctions biting Russia’s economy and NATO indignation finally roused, Putin was thought to be looking to ease the pressure.

There are signs he is. By choosing to attend the Asia-Europe summit, he signalled diplomatic re-engagement. This leads to the expectation he will attend the G-20 summit in Brisbane.

And, by announcing the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, he seemed to be conceding to NATO pressure………http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/vladimir-putin-ups-the-ante-with-reminders-russia-is-a-nuclear-power-20141017-117pzr.html

October 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia invites a nuclear non proliferation disaster, in its flawed deal with India

India-uranium1Australia–India nuclear treaty: a non-proliferation disaster, The Strategist, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Blog 14Oct 2014  By  “…….Nuclear suppliers do have a responsibility, however, for ensuring their nuclear material isn’t used to build nuclear weapons, and must maintain strict mechanisms for that purpose. If countries can access nuclear supply without the attendant responsibilities, then support for longstanding non-proliferation regimes will be undermined, countries will see less value in treaties such as the NPT, and a key pillar of the nuclear arms control regime as a whole will be weakened.

The text of the proposed Australian export deal fails that basic test. In addition to a range of other flaws, for the first time in 40 years Australia won’t be able to guarantee how the nuclear material it supplies is being used. Specifically, the agreement allows India to reprocess uranium supplied by Australia to create plutonium, potentially at weapons grade, with no direct accounting by India to Australia for that material, and unusually, no provision for the return of the material in the event of it being misused. As former Director-General of ASNO, John Carlson, explains, Australia currently allows reprocessing only by two export partners, the EU and Japan, each with direct reporting requirements and specific permission being given by Australia as to how the reprocessed material is to be used.

Accordingly, the deal with India isn’t comparable to Australia’s other nuclear export agreements. Australia is privileging India by excluding key provisions normally included to ensure a recipient of nuclear material is accountable to the supplier. Australia’s other nuclear export partners might demand similar concessions, undermining the integrity of the non-proliferation regime as a whole.

Moreover, the concessions made by Australia are unnecessary. ………Not only does this agreement undermine long established non-proliferation regimes and Australia’s credibility as a nuclear supplier, it represents a missed opportunity to strengthen it. Given that what matters most to India is being treated on a par with China and the United States, India should be expected to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) after the US Senate does, just as China has already agreed to do……..

The agreement marks a significant departure from Australia’s longstanding practice. By excluding the normal provisions that ensure a nuclear recipient is directly accountable to the supplier, Australia is abrogating the principle that nuclear suppliers are accountable for how their exported nuclear material is used……..Crispin Rovere is a former PhD student at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU and co-author of Non-strategic nuclear weapons: the next step in multilateral arms control. Image courtesy of Flickr user Indiawaterportal.orghttp://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australia-india-nuclear-treaty-a-non-proliferation-disaster/

October 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Government cover-up of Australia’s involvement in nuclear bomb testing

The following summarizes some of the key conclusions of the Royal Commission: 

  • The Australian government controlled media reporting such that news items provided what the UK government deemed suitable only;
  • Prior to the first tests on the Australian mainland, the Government Cabinet, Parliament and news media were not informed of what was happening;
  • It is likely that the major tests resulted in a general increase in cancer within the Australian population;
  • Exposure to radiation increased the risk of cancer in nuclear veterans;
  • There was a failure to adequately take into account the distinctive lifestyle of Aboriginal people living in the region;
  • The authorities were negligent in their management, equipping and briefing of the crews of the Lincoln aircraft who were directed to fly through the nuclear cloud in the Totem 1 test;
  • In the Buffalo tests, “. . . the attempts to ensure Aboriginal safety during the Buffalo series demonstrate ignorance, incompetence and cynicism on the part of those responsible for that safety.” (12)

This summary is a very small and selective account of the content of the Royal Commission’s Report.

Since Hiroshima: Australia’s Active Involvement in the Use and Abuse of Nuclear Energy Sunday, 05 October 2014 09:59By Lindsay FitzclarenceTruthout  “………..By 1952, the government had signed a contract with the CDA (Combined Development Agency) representing the UK and United States to supply uranium (5).

secret-Australia

At the same time, in a remarkable expression of executive power, the pro-royalist prime minister of Australia, Robert Menzies, agreed to a British request to begin testing of atomic weapons in its former colony (6). At the dawn of the Cold War nuclear arms race, Australia was an active participant at both ends of the weapons cycle: the source of primary nuclear fuel and as a nuclear testing ground. Continue reading

October 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, history, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

AUDIO: Injustices to black and white Australians – guinea pigs in Maralinga nuclear bomb tests

Atomic-Bomb-SmHear-This-wayAUDIO: Maralinga: Australia’s experience of nuclear testing ABC Radio p.m Mark Colvin reported this story on Friday, September 5, 2014 DAVID MARK: It happened in the 1950s. But the truth about a series of nuclear tests in which Britain let off atomic bombs at Maralinga in the South Australian desert only started to emerge in the ’70s.

Even now, there are still survivors demanding justice. Many are now dead, but there are still fears about the effects of the big doses of radiation they absorbed having on their children and even their grandchildren.

The journalist Frank Walker has written a book about Maralinga and he told Mark Colvin about what Australian servicemen actually experienced at the test site. ………… Continue reading

September 6, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactive Strontium-90 was found in secret testing of over 20,000 Australian corpses

strontium 90British scientists tested dead Australians for nuclear radiation, Australian Times.co.uk  Startling evidence that British scientists secretly tested up to 21,830 dead young Australians, without the knowledge of their parents, for radiation contamination following nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s. By  on 1 September, 2014 Dead Australians were tested for nuclear radiation contamination following nuclear tests, according to a new book.

The author of Maralinga, Frank Walker, laid his hands on minutes of a top secret UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment meeting in England on 24 May 1957 approving a program to determine the long-term effects of the tests on Australia and its citizens.

In his book, Walker describes how officials at the meeting, chaired by Professor Ernest Titterton, decided to first obtain soil samples from pasture regions near Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to check for fallout from the nine nuclear bombs detonated at Maralinga in the Australian Outback and the Monte Bello Islands, off WA.

The group also sought to collect animal bones from the regions around where the nuclear explosions were carried out.

In the document, the professor says that the final phase of testing would be to determine if Strontium-90 was being absorbed by the Australian population – most likely through the food chain.

“We have to find out if Strontium-90 is entering the food chain and getting into humans,” says the document. The scientists then agreed to start testing the bones of dead Australian infants and children for radiation contamination.

Acting on these orders, hundreds of bones from the bodies of 21,830 dead babies, infants, children, teenagers and young adults across Australia were collected without the knowledge of their parents, according to Adelaide newspaper, The Advertiser.

In a 2001 report to then federal health minister, Michael Wooldridge, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency said it had detected varying levels of Strontium-90 in the bone ash samples it had collected from hospitals in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne………..http://www.australiantimes.co.uk/news/uk-australian-news/british-nuclear-tests-australia-maralinga-radiation-contamination.htm

September 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian uranium sales to India could breach international obligations

India-uranium119 Aug 14  News that Australian officials have concluded a deal to sell uranium to India raises concerns the federal government may have violated its international nuclear non-proliferation obligations, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

 “India’s nuclear industry has many continuing and unresolved safety and security problems,” said ACF’s nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney.

 “In 2012 the Indian Auditor General released a damning report warning of ‘a Fukushima or Chernobyl-like disaster if the nuclear safety issue is not addressed’.

 “ACF is concerned a uranium export deal with India would violate the 1995 nuclear non-proliferation (NPT) Review and Extension Conference commitment to require full-scope safeguards as a condition of supply, and Article IV of the Treaty of Rarotonga – the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty – which obliges signatories to not supply equipment or material to countries not under full scope safeguards.  India is not under full scope safeguards.”

 The former head of the national security advisory board in India, K. Subrahmanyam, said in 2005: ‘Given India’s uranium ore crunch and the need to build up our … nuclear deterrent arsenal as fast as possible, it is to India’s advantage to categorise as many power reactors as possible as civilian ones to be refuelled by imported uranium and conserve our native uranium fuel for weapons-grade plutonium production’.

 “Clearly, Australian uranium would boost India’s nuclear weapons capacity,” Dave Sweeney said.

 “Australian uranium in India will free up India’s uranium stockpiles to be used in its nuclear weapons program.

 “Australian uranium is definitely fuelling radioactive waste and risk.  It is also potentially fuelling the spread of nuclear weapons.  Neither is desirable or acceptable.

 “Before PM Tony Abbott inks a deal with New Delhi, the federal government must show that any bilateral agreement requires India to take measureable disarmament actions and does not breach international agreements to which Australia is a party.” For context and comment contact: Dave Sweeney, 0408 317 812

 

 

 

August 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Solar employs, Nuclear destroys: still time to halt India uranium deal

 Scott Ludlam Greens spokesperson for Nuclear Senator for WA S  August 18, 2014 Australia will be directly complicit in fuelling the nuclear arms-race between India and Pakistan if reports are confirmed that a uranium deal with India is on the cards.

Prime Minister Abbott seems set to continue his high-profile series of international gaffes, missteps and humiliations, this one for the sole benefit of the mortally wounded uranium sector.

India’s scandal-prone nuclear industry has been plagued with accidents and near-misses at reactor sites; events including fires, floods, partial reactor collapses and more recently the construction of two Russian-designed plants in the tsunami-zone in the south of Tamil Nadu.

  1. Subrahmanyam, former head of the National Security Advisory Board in India, said: ‘it is to India’s advantage to categorise as many power reactors as possible as civilian ones to be refuelled by imported uranium and conserve our native uranium fuel for weapons-grade plutonium production’.

India first produced weapons-grade plutonium from a Canadian-supplied reactor it pledged to use only for ‘peaceful purposes’. Instead of fuelling this arms race, Australian industry should be partnering with India’s vibrant solar sector

India-uranium1

August 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s Future Fund and Banks invest in nuclear weapons

piggy-bank-nukeThe Don’t Bank on the Bomb report in 2012 revealed that most Australian banks have provided loans to nuclear weapons companies at some stage since 2008. Disappointingly, none have shown a willingness to divest, but they draw the line at financing projects specifically for nuclear weapons work.

Australia: The Future Fund goes Ballistic, Tim Wright http://www.dontbankonthebomb.com/2014/07/30/australia-the-future-fund-goes-logo-ICANballistic/ Opinion polls show that Australians overwhelmingly oppose nuclear weapons. So when we learned in 2011 that our major federal government investment fund – the so-called Future Fund – has substantial investments in nuclear weapons companies, there was widespread public uproar.

Melbourne’s leading daily newspaper, The Age, ran a front-page story with the headline: “Australia investing in nuclear arms.” The following day, readers reacted angrily on the letters pages, and a cartoon depicted businessmen being hurled through the air by an exploding nuclear bomb. “The Future Fund goes ballistic,” read the caption.

We uncovered this controversial information using freedom-of-information laws, which allow any member of the public to gain access to documents held by Australian government agencies. There was no charge for this service.

When the news broke, the Future Fund stated that it had no plans to divest from companies involved in nuclear weapons production, even though it had earlier divested from cluster munitions and landmines. It claimed that countries such as the United States, Britain and France possess nuclear weapons legitimately.

Not satisfied with this response, we encouraged friendly senators to quiz the Future Fund leadership about their position in the parliament. This helped keep the issue on the political agenda. The minister overseeing the fund, Senator Penny Wong, was forced to defend the position.

We then commissioned legal advice from a team of top barristers, who found that the Future Fund had failed to comply with its own stated investment policies. Continue reading

August 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Auxstralia’s investments in nuclear weapons, via the Future Fund

Australia One Of Ten Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7) June 9, 2014 ~  Australia investing in nuclear arms May 26, 2011 THE federal government’s $74 billion Future Fund is investing Australian taxpayers’ money in foreign companies that make components for nuclear weapons.

Records obtained under freedom of information laws show the fund has $135.4 million invested in 15 companies involved in the design, production and maintenance of nuclear weapons for the United States, Britain, France and India.

About $3.8 million of this is invested in Larsen & Toubro, a Mumbai-based company involved in building a fleet of nuclear-armed submarines for India. The company has also helped test a launch system for India’s nuclear missiles.Any investment involving the production of nuclear weapons for India is particularly controversial because New Delhi is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The Future Fund has also invested taxpayers’ money in global defence industry behemoths Boeing, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and Thales, all of which are involved in the manufacture ofnuclear missiles for the US, Britain or France.……..

The Future Fund was set up in 2006 with the proceeds of Telstra’s privatisation to cover the Commonwealth’s superannuation obligations in coming years. Its board is appointed by the Treasurer, but is independent of the government.

Its policy is to invest only in companies ”whose economic activity is legal in Australia and does not contravene international conventions to which Australia is a signatory”……..

logo-ICANBut activists from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons claim the investments contravene the fund’s policy because the manufacture of nuclear weapons is illegal in Australia. ”The Future Fund has a policy not to invest in activities that would be illegal in Australia and it’s absolutely clear that it would be illegal in Australia to do what these companies are doing,” the group’s Tim Wright told The Age.

”For the fund to be saying it’s not inconsistent with their investment policy is completely wrong.”

The group also claims the fund might be contravening the Australian law that prohibits assistance to anyone involved in the ”manufacture, production, acquisition or testing” of nuclear devices both inside and outside Australia. And it argues that the investments contravene the spirit of the international convention, which calls on nuclear weapons states to pursue ”good faith” action on disarmament.

”Conducting simulated nuclear tests and building new nuclear-tipped missiles and nuclear-armed submarines, which will mean that nuclear weapons are around for many more decades, are contrary to this good-faith obligation,” he said…….http://andrewtheprophet.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/australia-one-of-ten-nuclear-horns-daniel-77/

 

 

June 14, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

More USA military to be based in Australia

map-Australia-targets-US to extend Darwin marine base as Tony Abbott meets Barack Obama to push G20 agenda,  DAVID CROWE IN WASHINGTON  THE AUSTRALIAN  12 June 14
AUSTRALIA has struck a defence agreement with the United States that prepares the ground for more American troops, aircraft and ships to operate from Australian bases to ward off threats in South East Asia.
      The outcome will give the two countries the capacity for “additional reach” into the region as a result of talks in Washington overnight between Tony Abbott and US President Barack Obama…….the agreement means Australia is open to hosting more US Marines in Darwin over time and may also consider the use of a Western Australian naval base as a port for US destroyers…….

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/us-to-extend-darwin-marine-base-as-tony-abbott-meets-barack-obama-to-push-g20-agenda/story-fn59nm2j-1226952627611

June 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia part of the USA’s militarisation of the Pacific

weapons1In the coming months, the world will mark the 70th anniversary of Pacific battles in Saipan, Guam, the Mariana Islands, New Guinea, Palau, the Philippines and Burma. More anniversaries will be recognized next year to commemorate battles in Bataan, Manila and Iwo Jima, followed by anniversaries of the firebombing of Tokyo, the battle of Okinawa and then, in August 2015, the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Each event represents death and destruction of the past in a region scarred by militarism and an ongoing legacy of war without end

The Militarized Pacific: An Anniversary Without End  14 May 2014  By Jon LetmanTruthout | Op-Ed  “……..(Another) Asia-Pacific Pivot The plight of the Marshall Islands is the back-story of today’s increasingly militarized Asia-Pacific, but David Vine, associate professor of anthropology at American University, sees nothing particularly new about Obama’s Asia-Pacific pivot.

“Very early on islands were identified as playing a very important role in expanding the reach of the United States, and US commerce in particular,” Vine says, citing early US military forays into Okinawa and the tiny Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands southeast of Japan. In the 1960s US nuclear weapons were kept in Okinawan ports and have been documented as passing through Japanese islands despite Japan’s stated opposition to introducing and storing nuclear weapons.

Similarly, in 1987, the nation of Palau, under pressure from the US, dropped its opposition to the entry of US nuclear armed and powered vessels into its territory.

Vine talks about the post-World War II “forward posture” of creating a wall of Pacific islands as close as possible to Asia for its own strategic interests. He describes Pacific island nations like the RMI, Palau and FSM as being technically sovereign but, like American Samoa, Guam, Saipan and the Northern Mariana Islands, effectively run as colonies. Vine says these islands exist under conditions that overwhelmingly benefit US military interests, perhaps best illustrated by the US insisting on the “right of strategic denial.” This “right,” claimed under COFA, grants the US exclusive military control over half a million square miles of the Pacific and includes provisions allowing for the use of RTS on Kwajalein through 2066 with the option to extend to 2086. Continue reading

May 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia deliberately prevented a nuclear-free Pacific treaty, to obey USA’s interests

Declassified documents from the National Archives of Australia, including the 1985 Cabinet minute about the SPNFZ Treaty, show clearly that Australia designed the treaty to protect US interests in the Pacific, including the deployment of nuclear-armed warships and the testing of nuclear missiles.

Aust-two-faced-on-peaceInternational legal experts, including Don Rothwell, professor of international law at the Australian National University, have raised concerns that uranium sales to India would breach Australia’s obligations under the treaty. Rothwell has prepared a legal opinion stating that the SPNFZ Treaty prohibits members from selling uranium to countries that do not accept full-scope nuclear safeguards under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This is consistent with past Australian government policy. 

Delaying The Nuclear-Free Zone In The Pacific http://concernedyapcitizens.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/pacific-islands-report-delaying-the-nuclear-free-zone-in-the-pacific/ By Nic Maclellan At the height of the nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Union, a treaty to create a South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, or SPNFZ, was opened for signature on Hiroshima Day, 6 August 1985, at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Rarotonga.

Twenty-eight years after it was signed on that day by Australia, New Zealand and island nations, the United States still hasn’t ratified its protocols, in spite of a request from president Barack Obama to the US Senate more than two years ago.

Next week, as Forum leaders gather in the Marshall Islands – site of sixty-seven US nuclear tests at Bikini and Enewetak Atolls – the US government will be eager to keep nuclear issues off the agenda, as it has been since the Treaty was first mooted. Declassified documents from the National Archives of Australia, and US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks, highlight longstanding opposition in Canberra and Washington to a comprehensive nuclear-free zone that might hamper US nuclear deployments in the Pacific.

The Forum meeting, and the US Senate’s continued stalling, coincide with on-going concerns that Australia’s decision to sell uranium to India threatens to breach Australian treaty obligations. As Conservative Australian governments in the 1960s debated the acquisition of nuclear weapons and purchased aircraft capable of delivering nuclear strikes in Southeast Asia, the labour movement across the region proposed a nuclear free zone designed to ban the bomb in this part of the world. The SPNFZ Treaty was finally negotiated in the 1980s after decades of campaigning by unions, Pacific churches and the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement. Continue reading

April 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Does Australia really need to buy $14 billion joint air strikefighter jets?

JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER $14BN LEAP OF FAITH: BANDT HTTP://WWW.ADAMBANDT.COM/JOINT_STRIKE_FIGHTER_14BN_LEAP_OF_FAITH_BANDT 23 April 14

Greens Acting Leader Adam Bandt today said that Tony Abbott’s plan to spend close to $14 billion on 58 plagued joint strike fighter jets was a poor use of taxpayer funds at a time of supposed Budget restraint.

“Tony Abbott’s priority should be pensions not poorly performing planes,” said Mr Bandt.

“Tony Abbott is taking us on a $14bn leap of faith. So much for the Budget emergency.

“The JSF project has been plagued by delays, overruns and blowouts. There are even doubts about the jet’s performance capability.

“The Government should be 100% certain before spending close to $14 billion of taxpayers’ money that the jets are fit for purpose and genuinely in the national interest. “There are too many uncertainties over this project for Australia to commit to it in this way,” said Mr Bandt.

April 23, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia is part of USA’s increased market for exporting weapons to this region

Buy-US-nukes

The Obama administration has pushed through a streamlining of the licensing process in order to facilitate an increase in military exports – in part to compensate U.S. arms manufacturers for a decline in orders from the Pentagon…..

The more advanced weaponry U.S. allies purchase, the more they are locked into future acquisitions. The United States emphasises “interoperability” among its allies. Not only are purchasers dependent on the United States for spare parts and upgrades, but they must consider the overall system of command and control (which is now C5I — Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat systems and Intelligence).

World Cuts Back Military Spending, But Not Asia, Inter Press Service Analysis by John Feffer WASHINGTON, Apr 14 2014 (IPS) - For the second year in a row, the world is spending a little less on the military. Asia, however, has failed to get the memo. The region is spending more at a time when many others are spending less. Continue reading

April 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia will have to come clean on nuclear weapons policy

Australian policy on nuclear weapons hopelessly conflicted http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australian-policy-on-nuclear-weapons-hopelessly-conflicted-20140410-zqt9l.html  April 10, 2014   At a meeting in Hiroshima of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), a group of 12 countries led by Australia and Japan, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made much of Australia’s supposed commitment to ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

But Australian policy on nuclear weapons is hopelessly conflicted. With one hand, it promotes nuclear disarmament, yet with the other, it clings anxiously to US nuclear weapons for national security. Australia wants to get rid of nuclear weapons and keep them too.
There is no secret about this: Bishop wrote in February that Australia “has long and actively supported nuclear disarmament … and worked tirelessly toward the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons” and also that Australia “will continue to rely on nuclear deterrence” for its security as long as nuclear weapons exist. She is the latest custodian of a bipartisan policy that has been passed down through consecutive governments for decades.
As long as nothing much was happening with nuclear disarmament, Australia could safely advocate it. But the emergence of a global movement to examine the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and a related push for a treaty banning them, has put Australia on the spot.

International conferences held in Oslo last year and in Nayarit, Mexico, in February concluded that any nuclear detonation would completely overwhelm humanitarian and disaster response capabilities, and cause unacceptable long-term harm worldwide.

Australia cautiously participated in these meetings, but clearly with misgiving. And at the United Nations last October, when 125 countries, including Japan and five other NPDI members, made a joint statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, Australia baulked – and weaselled out.

Pressed to explain why Australia could not join the statement, officials said the sentence, “It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances,” was incompatible with Australia’s reliance on nuclear deterrence.

Calls for a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons have further exposed the contradictions in Australia’s policy. There is no legal reason Australia could not join such a treaty tomorrow: Australia has no nuclear weapons. As a member of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) it has sworn off them.

The official response, however, has been to oppose such a ban because it would not “guarantee” nuclear disarmament. This is a ludicrous excuse, given that none of the approaches Australia and the NPDI advocate will “guarantee” disarmament either (in fact most of them are hopelessly bogged down).

That a polished performer like Bishop would field such a flimsy rationalisation only shows how bare the intellectual cupboard at the Foreign Ministry is. They can’t find a better argument, because there isn’t one.

Despite the increasing visibility of its inherently contradictory policy, the government blithely continues to seek a high profile on nuclear disarmament.

The people of Hiroshima will surely welcome Bishop’s earnest undertakings to address the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and pursue nuclear disarmament. They will be less impressed by her extraordinary statement that “the horrendous humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are precisely why deterrence has worked” – in other words, that Australia depends for its security on the very humanitarian consequences it claims to be working to avoid.The contradictions emerge even within the NPDI. The purpose of the NPDI is to support implementation of the 64-point “action plan” on non-proliferation and disarmament agreed by the 189 members of the NPT. Australia is a prominent proponent of the plan. But the very first of these 64 actions requires Australia to “pursue policies that are fully compatible with the treaty and the objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons”. How is relying on nuclear weapons compatible with the objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons?
The circle simply cannot be squared. Follow the tortuous reasoning to its conclusion and it reduces to “Australia supports nuclear disarmament, just as soon as it has happened”.
As the humanitarian initiative gathers momentum, and as a ban treaty looms closer, Australia’s policy will become increasingly untenable. It will soon have to choose: nuclear weapons – yes or no. If the answer is yes, the only honest course is to drop the pretence of working towards a world free of nuclear weapons and leave the NPT. If the answer is no, then there are policy challenges ahead – but overcoming them would put Australia on the right side of history.
Richard Lennane is a former United Nations disarmament official and Australian diplomat.

April 14, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | 1 Comment

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