Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s nuclear weapons plan, and the connection with NSW nuclear reactor

On Nov. 2, 1956, Australia’s Defense Committee formally recommended the acquisition of kiloton-range tactical nuclear weapons.

In 1969, the government announced plans to construct a 500-megawatt nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales.

The intention was clear — this reactor was to support a nuclear weapons program. The reactor project pushed ahead and preliminary site work commenced.

Atomic-Bomb-SmRevealed: Australia’s Failed Bid for Nuclear WeaponsChris Walsh, The National Interest 16 Sept 15, At 9:00 in the morning on Oct. 3, 1952, a 25-kiloton nuclear explosion vaporized the retired British frigate HMS Plym off Australia’s remote western coast. The Operation Hurricane detonation in the Monte Bello Islands was a seminal moment for Britain and marked its return to the club of great powers.

But for Australia, these tests and others served a murkier purpose – as important and deliberate steps toward Australia’s own acquisition of nuclear weapons. It was in the tense Cold War environment of the late 1950s and early 1960s that these aspirations moved beyond talk and into concrete action.

By the time the Hurricane detonation took place, Australia was already experienced in weapons of mass destruction. From 1943 and in the shadow of a possible Japanese invasion, Australia built extensive stocks of chemical weapons and delivery systems…….

Australia — with its vast coastlines and deserts — emerged as a key player in Britain’s nuclear strategy.

When Britain approached Australia to host nuclear tests, a sympathetic government led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies readily agreed. While Menzies — an Anglophile — focused on his relationship with the United Kingdom, others saw this as an opportunity for Australia to buy membership into the nuclear club. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia, formerly a leader on nuclear disarmament, now a leper in the regional disarmament movement

antinuke-worldSmAustralia’s earlier leadership on nuclear disarmament had diminished over the past four years.

“We know what Australia is saying ‘no’ to. It is saying ‘no’ to the humanitarian consequences pledge. Well, what is it saying ‘yes’ to?”

Australia resists new global push for nuclear disarmament, Guardian, , 16 Sept 15  Diplomatic cables reveal prospects for nuclear disarmament are ‘bleak’ as Australia becomes increasingly lonely in opposing 116-nation push for ban

Prospects for nuclear disarmament are “bleak” under the current non-proliferation treaty, Australian diplomats have conceded in cables back to Canberra, but the country will resist growing global support for a new treaty banning nuclear weapons because of a dependence on the nuclear deterrent capability of the US.

A tranche of internal government emails from within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reveals Australia’s opposition to a 116-nation push to ban nuclear weapons is leaving it increasingly isolated globally, and especially among anti-nuclear neighbours. The emails, released under freedom of information, reveal Australia is increasingly worried about an Austrian-led push for a treaty to ban all nuclear weapons. Continue reading

September 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s history of trying to get nuclear weapons

text-historyIn 1969, the government announced plans to construct a 500-megawatt nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales. The intention was clear — this reactor was to support a nuclear weapons program.

in 1972, the conservative Gorton government was swept from power and replaced. Gough Whitlam, a longtime advocate of arms control, wasted no time ratifying the NPT and abandoning the Jervis Bay reactor. In a heartbeat, the 40-year quest for Australian nuclear capability was over.

Atomic-Bomb-SmAustralia’s Failed Bid for the Bomb, War Is Boring, Chris Walsh, 15 Sept 15  Canberra was captivated by atomic weapons in the 1950s — then ruined its chances of ever getting them

At 9:00 in the morning on Oct. 3, 1952, a 25-kiloton nuclear explosion vaporized the retired British frigate HMS Plym off Australia’s remote western coast. The Operation Hurricane detonation in the Monte Bello Islands was a seminal moment for Britain and marked its return to the club of great powers.

But for Australia, these tests and others served a murkier purpose – as important and deliberate steps toward Australia’s own acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Continue reading

September 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) shows big hurdles in selling uranium to India

India-uranium1Miles to go: exporting uranium to India M V Ramana – 11 September 2015 Plans to export uranium from Australia to India may have hit their most significant hurdle so far in the form of Report 151 of the federal Parliament’s influential Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). After much deliberation and expert testimony, the Committee has put forward a number of recommendations that India has to abide by before Australian uranium is sold to India. The history of India’s nuclear programme and the country’s stand in various diplomatic fora suggest that there is little chance of India agreeing to these conditions.

The first three recommendations laid out in the JSCOT report are particularly important. The first and second recommendations pertain to India acceding to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty as well as a nuclear arms limitation treaty for the Indian subcontinent region. The third recommendation is focused on the safety and efficacy of the safeguards and standards of nuclear facilities in India arguing that a series of key checks and balances must be put into practice and proven to work before any uranium sales. If taken seriously, these recommendations will make it all but impossible for the Australian government to sell any uranium to India. Continue reading

September 13, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Increasing danger of #nuclear submarines in Indo Pacific oceans

submarine,-nuclear-underwat‘the more submarines you put in the same body of water, the higher the probability they might collide’.

Indo-Pacific nuclear sub threat to rival Cold War AFR, by John Kerin, 3 Sept 15  The Indian and Pacific Oceans are becoming increasingly crowded with nuclear armed and conventional submarines increasing the risk of collision and nuclear conflict.

The warning is contained in a new Lowy Institute of International Affairs paper to be released on Friday which argues the region faces the greatest threat of a miscalculation involving nuclear armed submarines since the Cold War era.

“The regional contests for influence between the United States and China and China and India do not yet have the existential or ideological ‘life or death character’ of the Cold War,” the paper by Professor Rory Medcalf of the ANU based National Security College and Brendan-Thomas Noone from the Lowy International Security Program says.

“But quite literally below the surface a new and dangerous competition is emerging as China and India in particular start deploying nuclear weapons at sea………. Continue reading

September 3, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia, India hold naval exercise, ramping up tensions in Indian Ocean

Australia, India to Hold First Ever Naval Exercise Amid China Concerns ( Source- The Diplomat / Author- Prashanth Parameswaran) September 1, 2015, Manoj Ambat,  Prashanth Parameswaran

Next month, the Indian Navy and Royal Australian Navy will hold their first-ever joint maritime exercise.
The exercise, called AUSINDEX, will he held off India’s Visakhapatnam Port in the Bay of Bengal in mid-September. According to defense sources, Australia is sending Lockheed Martin’s P-3 anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft, a Collins-class submarine, a tanker, and frigates, while India will deploy assets including Boeing’s P-8 long-range anti-submarine aircraft and a locally manufactured corvette. The exercise will have both sea and shore phases and include table-top exercises, scenario planning, and at sea, surface and anti-submarine warfare.
Unsurprisingly, the media attention has focused on the exercise narrowly as a response to rising concerns about China. ……The potential for increased maritime tensions amid rising competition in the Indian Ocean is real. Commenting on this, Captain Sheldon Williams, a defense adviser at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi, admitted that there is “potential for increased security tensions in the Indian Ocean.”…….

September 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Professor Tilman Ruff on .The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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

Ruff,TilmanBan the bomb: 70 years on, the nuclear threat looms as large as ever, The Conversation,  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

August 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA ‘Missile Defense’ is Destabilizing the Region

antnuke-relevant‘Missile Defense’ is Destabilizing  by Bruce K. Gagnon“….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.

The US walked away from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia soon after George W. Bush became president.  The ABM Treaty prevented either side from deploying ‘missile defense’ systems near the other nation which would give one side a strategic advantage.

Since the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty the US has been encircling both Russia and China with the destabilizing systems.


May 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

American military buildup in Australia

Changing face of Australia’s security posture 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?”


May 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s disarmament double-speak at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference 2015

 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.

logo-ICANGem 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

May 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby influence – Australian Industry Group Defence Council wants nuclear submarines

submarine,-nuclear-underwatNuclear 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.

 Prime Minister Tony Abbott commissioned advice from his own department last year on nuclear submarine options including the 8000 tonne US Virginia class but the government continues to rule out the option.

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.

March 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, South Australia, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Weatherill’s Royal Commission hides the connection between nuclear industry and nuclear weapons

scrutiny-Royal-CommissionDennis 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.


March 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A nuclear industry in South Australia would move Australia towards having nuclear weapons

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.

March 11, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Australian Government’s moment of truth on nuclear disarmament

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.

logo-ICAN2015 is the year to ban nuclear weapons February 19, 2015 Malcolm Fraser and Tilman Ruff

Australia faces a moment of truth – are we serious about nuclear disarmament, or will we continue to oppose a treaty banning nuclear weapons? The most important development in nuclear disarmament since the Cold War ended 25 years ago is now under way. All governments, including our own, were invited to support a commitment by the government of Austria “to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons”, and “to co-operate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.” By this week, 40 governments have already joined this call. They include all the 33 states of Latin America and the Caribbean. The rest are in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. More are joining. Yet as documents released this week under Freedom of Information confirm, the Australian government continues to categorically oppose banning the most destructive and indiscriminate of all weapons.

Continue reading

February 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Autralian nuclear experts (nuclear advocates!) worried about uranium to India sales deal

India-uranium1Risk Of Australian Uranium In Indian Nuclear Weapons Spark Worries, International Business Times, By   on February 16 2015  
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……..

February 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment


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