Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia won’t get the nuclear bomb – these are the reasons why not

The real problem is developing a credible, effective nuclear capability is about much more than possessing the bomb itself. Equally critical would be working out how to control and protect the weapon prior to use, and finally, deliver it. Doing this is, perhaps surprisingly, just as difficult – if not more so – than developing the device itself.

let’s look at what it would  cost.This is where the extent of the fantasy becomes apparent.

there’s one other final, conclusive, and critical reason that not even our allies will assist an attempt to go nuclear. The truth is now they just don’t view Australia as a stable, mature democracy any more.

The one, conclusive reason why Australia won’t go nuclear, SMH, By Nicholas Stuart, 18 September 2018 There’s a massive, although subterranean, debate going on in the strategic community at the moment – one with huge ramifications. It’s whether Australia should possess its own nuclear deterrent.

The argument for is simple. China’s rising; America’s declining. We can’t rely on the US nuclear umbrella and need to have our own nuclear bomb. Even those on the so-called ‘pro-Beijing side’ admit this is a real question that requires an answer, because it defines our entire strategic future. Unfortunately, everyone in the military community’s been weighing up the relative advantages of an independent, Australian bomb in an antiseptic, apolitical, environment. You know, how it could be done; how it might operate; and how much would it cost?

It’s time to get real.

Could we do it? Physically, undoubtedly. We have the necessary raw materials and intellectual know-how. Enriching uranium and converting lumps of radioactive rock into the most destructive weapon known to humanity isn’t simple but, with focused effort, it’s eminently feasible for an advanced industrial nation. Successive governments have actively ensured the option’s been kept open, even if not actively pursued. But that’s just the start. Even this extended, bipartisan effort to develop a latent capacity is just scratching at the surface of what’s needed.

The real problem is developing a credible, effective nuclear capability is about much more than possessing the bomb itself. Equally critical would be working out how to control and protect the weapon prior to use, and finally, deliver it. Doing this is, perhaps surprisingly, just as difficult – if not more so – than developing the device itself.

Our aircraft don’t have the range without air-to-air refuelling, but such a capacity (basically civilian airliners) would be way too vulnerable to operate in a contested environment. So that’s out. Developing long-range missiles would take years of exhaustive effort and testing. It would require a ‘space’ agency energetically tasked and fully resourced to develop long-range missiles, and we don’t have that.

This leaves our new submarines, a capacity that today only exists on paper.

The new vessels probably will have some form of short-range, land-attack missile capability. That’s still a long way from possessing a robust nuclear delivery system.

Any missiles would need to be specially developed, able to evade anti-missile defences and probably have multiple warheads. They’d need to be precisely accurate. The submarine would need to be able to survive in a highly hostile environment and remain on station for months at a time. This doesn’t describe our new vessels, which are intended to be used very differently, as hunter-killers. So our submarines are no answer and we return to the start point. Finding a way to deliver a bomb is possible, but doing so is likely to be both enormously difficult and expensive.

Developing a proper nuclear capacity would require overcoming enormous obstacles in four discrete fields; all requiring comprehensive effort, and all incredibly complicated. We’d need to master the technology of making the bomb itself; establish an indigenous missile capability to deliver the weapon; plough money into either a submarine or long-range missile force to host this delivery system; and last (but certainly not least) implement robust command and control procedures to ensure there was no confusion about signalling our intent in during a nuclear crisis and no risk of accidental launch.

None of this is impossible – but it’s certainly not simple. So let’s look at what the cost. This is where the extent of the fantasy becomes apparent.

Currently, we spend about $35 billion a year on defence ($95 million a day). We haven’t spent more than two percent of GDP on the forces since the ’70’s (when, ironically, the government’s ‘take’ of the economy was more like 20 percent. Today it’s surged beyond 24 percent, but the extra money goes on health and support.). The experts conservatively assess the additional cost of developing a nuclear deterrent would be an extra $15 billion a year, growing to $30 billion for a fully operational force. This effectively doubles our defence budget.

Where’s the money coming from? Schools? Hospitals? Defence pensions, pay and allowances?……….

Oh, and there’s one other final, conclusive, and critical reason that not even our allies will assist an attempt to go nuclear. The truth is now they just don’t view Australia as a stable, mature democracy any more. It’s unpalatable, it may seem wrong, but there’s a cost to having seven PM’s in 11 years and the price is paid in terms of our international reputation.

Over the past fortnight, every ambassador in Canberra has sent cables home bearing the same message. They’re telling their governments not to bother dealing with ours for six months, or until there’s a new PM in the Lodge…….https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-one-conclusive-reason-why-australia-won-t-go-nuclear-20180918-p504hz.html

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September 19, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war

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