Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear submarines – A step towards nuclear power and nuclear weapons?

Nuclear submarine deal needlessly raises tensions, Proposed US/UK nuclear-powered submarines for Australia jeopardise health while escalating an arms race no one can win

Joint statement by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and its affiliates in Australia, UK and USA: Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia); Medact (UK); Physicians for Social Responsibility (USA), Beyond Nuclear, 10 Oct 21,

”……..A step towards nuclear power and nuclear weapons?

Already, in the wake of the announced plans, there are mounting calls in Australia, including from some government MPs, for Australia to embrace nuclear power as well. Throughout the 1950s and 1960, Australia made active plans and preparations to acquire nuclear weapons. Calls that Australia needs to be prepared to acquire its own nuclear weapons, from former senior government officials and those employed by think tanks close to the government, have never gone away.

Twenty nuclear weapons could be built from the amount of HEU fuelling the nuclear reactor of each planned submarine.

The way forward

More than a leader’s word is needed to ensure that the planned submarines will not be used as the thin end of a wedge towards an expanded civil nuclear industry, such as nuclear power generation, and that the planned submarines will not be armed with US, UK or Australian nuclear weapons.

Rather than escalating a nuclear-propelled new cold war, both the UK and US should make their people and the world truly safer by pursuing a verifiable and binding agreement with other nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. They should welcome and work towards joining the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which provides the only internationally agreed, treaty-codified framework for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Naval nuclear propulsion, especially with HEU, should be phased out.

There are abundant compelling reasons for all states to join the TPNW — indeed that is the best test of whether they are serious about nuclear disarmament, or not. Contrary to its support for the treaties prohibiting all other major types of inhumane and indiscriminate weapons and weapons of mass destruction — biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions — Australia opposes the TPNW.

The best way for Australia to provide surety that any nuclear-powered submarines would not be a stepping stone towards acquiring nuclear weapons, nor have any role in the possible use of nuclear weapons, is to join the TPNW. If it continues to refuse to do so, such concerns will remain well justified.

If Australia does proceed to acquire nuclear submarines, it should insist on LEU fuel, implement stringent safeguards, the submarines should be configured so that they cannot carry nuclear weapons, and nothing about their construction or operation should impede Australia joining the TPNW.  
For the full joint IPPNW statement with signatures, go here.

October 11, 2021 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war

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