Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Today. A lot of scathing comments on the story of how the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal came about

I wonder for just how long will these horribly expensive nuclear submarines actually be useful to Australia, if indeed, they ever are.?    Australia needs submarines  of a shorter range to monitor its own coastlines, –   not long range ones that could be equipped with weapons,   (later on nuclear weapons) for attacking China.  


Meanwhile China is developing hundreds of swarms of much cheaper drones. that can detect nuclear submarines, and even attack them.  
Maybe the USA and UK are very happy to get Australia to pay the costs of soon-to-be-obsolete underwater monster,.  And the costs of disposing of them – a problem not yet solved by any country.

In today’s Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Harcher gives a detailed story on the secret negotiations that brought Australia to the AUKUS deal, and the plan to spend many $170Billion on nuclear submarines. Many questions on this – not least – where will the money come from?

Scott Morrison has the nerve to accuse Labor of financial extravagance, as Labor leader AnthonyAlbanese promises to spend a tiny fraction of that on fixibg our desperate health care system – as Australianhospitals struggle undervthe continuing onslaught of the pandemic.

Anyway – I’m not the only one to notice this. Many comments below that article. Here are just a few:

Misnomerthey could allow Australia to pose a direct threat to the Chinese mainland”

Exactly. Our war mongers in Canberra aren’t interested in defence, they want war with China. They have written a $100+ billion blank cheque for the “crown jewels” (seriously?), leaving us without subs and defence for decades so hairy-chested Morrison and Dutton can bang the defence drums for an election.

The subs are a political play from a reckless, spendthrift government beholden to the US, which is happy to take a huge chunk of our debt-fuelled cash and let us fight their war against China.

Ditch the subs. They are a folly from an out-of-control government and should be the first thing Labor axes in the name of debt repair.

Inner West Andrew….  The French option should not have been discarded so readily on what appears to be a political process instigated by scotty from marketing in secret and using notes on the back of a beer coaster. The lack of proper policy development on the AUKUS deal is truly astonishing. Neither Britain or America are likely to have the spare capacity to help us obtain a fleet of even just 3 nuclear submarines for decades. meanwhile we have a massive capability gaps, just as Dutton appears determined to start a war.

Budawang The momentous decision to bankroll the US projection of power against China in the Western Pacific for decades to come was made without any public debate and without even consulting with Labor. This is not the sign of a well-functioning democracy.

lets be frank. Since ScoMo didn’t talk to Albo . Albo as PM should bite the bullet and CANCEL THE NUCLEAR DEAL . Its too far above our budget and capability. It will bankrupt us . Scomo has shown himself to be the most incompetent reactive idiot in a conga line of LNP incompetent reactive idiots. This is what happens when you have amateurs in the Lodge

Ultracrepidarianist. Great article Peter. When the high financial cost was discussed the treasurer reaction was “Everything is affordable if it’s a priority. This is a priority.”
I now understand why major issues such as aged care are given superficial attention.
The Coalition does not perceive sorting out aged care issues as a priority.’
Shame on them. I no longer fall into the undecided voter category.

Alfie. There are a lot of quotes from private and sensitive conversations in this piece.
It wreaks of placement by invested parties to justify the most expensive and controversial defence project in Australia’s history.
Any further explanation on how all this information was obtained Mr Hartcher?

Oh well. So, “ScoMo” began the move to nuclear subs at least 2 years before the deal was announced, and the French informed. All so he could make the laughable boast that Australia could, once we got them, “threaten” China. This is what happens when you ask military people whether you should buy them more military toys.

SteveM. Just imagine Dutton as PM with nuclear powered attack subs to play with.

JF. Yet more proof that Scotty from Marketing is both overly partisan and hopelessly incompetent. Australia deserves much better than this appalling LNP clown show pseudo government. Time for them to go.

Phil 1943 Why wouldn’t the US and UK rush to accept the offer of a base – or bases, for their naval assets in Australia without the inconvenience of having to pay for them? If all goes as vaguely announced by the LNP, Australia will fork out big bucks for a smallish fleet of nuclear subs that will be serviced here in ‘joint’ facilities that will be shared with those two nuclear-experienced nations while we learn how to operate our submersible purchases.

During the twenty or so years while we wait for this questionable deal to coalesce, our allies will have new Australian bases to show on the maps of their global military facilities. And it’s going to cost us billions of dollars in the interim. We can only hope Albo says ‘no’.

mmanuel Can. The fact it makes us more of a target doesnt seem to have been given too much weight.

Allan Woodley. I guess that’s what he was doing in Hawaii during the bushfires.

Southerner. So this puts into perspective China’s reaction to Australia, the trade bans and the Solomons and China’s spy ships cruising in international waters off Australia’s coast. Why does Australia need an attack capacity? Why would a nation of 25 million seek to be a protagonist? Why didn’t Morrison and Co spend the time building constructive, healthy relationships with the Pacific, our SE Asian neighbours and all our trading partners including China? Once again Morrison was playing domestic politics, keeping Albanese out of the picture, pursuing a fait accompli to reap what he saw as glory. Has Morrison made Australians safer? That is uncertain. Hopefully, this very dangerous man and his very bad government will be gone in 7 days time

More comments tomorrw.

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

‘Extraordinary’: Albanese slams Morrison for not briefing him on subs deal,  

SMH, By Anthony Galloway, May 14, 2022  Labor leader Anthony Albanese has accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of breaking trust with the Biden administration by not briefing Labor well before the announcement of the AUKUS defence pact, as the presence of a Chinese spy ship off Australia’s coast re-ignites debates over national security.The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed on Saturday that four-and-half months before the announcement on September 16, senior members of the Biden administration insisted that it would only consider pursuing the landmark AUKUS project if it had solid support from both major Australian political parties.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of breaking trust with the Biden administration by not briefing Labor well before the announcement of the AUKUS defence pact, as the presence of a Chinese spy ship off Australia’s coast re-ignites debates over national security.The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed on Saturday that four-and-half months before the announcement on September 16, senior members of the Biden administration insisted that it would only consider pursuing the landmark AUKUS project if it had solid support from both major Australian political parties.“They [the US] wanted to have the confidence that this would be a bipartisan issue in terms of support.”

Albanese said the briefing on September 15 was a “good comprehensive briefing by officials”. But he said the fact that the US had made a request to Australia “that was ignored for-four-and-a-half months shows that this is a prime minister who always plays short-term politics and isn’t interested in the national interest”.“I will not treat national security issues as an opportunity to make a difference on partisan domestic political points,” Albanese said. “No Australian Prime Minister should do that.”Foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the report in this masthead confirms Morrison “held back” from briefing Labor against the wishes of the Biden administration.“Now what this confirms to Australians is that this Prime Minister will do and say anything to save his political skin,” she said…………………………………….   https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/extraordinary-albanese-unloads-on-morrison-for-not-briefing-him-on-aukus-months-before-announcement-20220514-p5albm.html

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Radioactive: Inside the top-secret AUKUS nuclear submarines deal

A nuclear subs deal would lock Australia more tightly into the US bloc.

Shearer managed to sidestep the Russian roulette of Australia’s vaccine rollout with the help of doctors at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.……….

My sources didn’t put it quite this bluntly, but everyone in the room understood that this was about Australia acquiring the power to pose a direct threat to China’s forces and the Chinese mainland.

 Campbell made a crucial choice by appointing Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead…...

Secret meetings and subterfuge over many months shored up Australia’s “40-year fantasy” of a mighty nuclear marriage with the US and the UK.

SMH, By Peter Hartcher MAY 14, 2022 When Joe Biden was first briefed on Australia’s request for nuclear-powered submarines, he did not say “yes”. He was cautious, even sceptical. Among his doubts was whether Australia was up to it………….

The Australians were asking for the crown jewels in the national security vault. one of America’s remaining decisive advantages over China. The US had shared its nuclear sub secrets with only one nation, Britain, in 1958. Much had changed since.

The transformational power of nuclear-propelled subs is that they could allow Australia to pose a direct threat to the Chinese mainland. For the first time. It had come to that.

With unlimited range because they never need to refuel, and with vertical launch tubes for firing missiles, a nuclear-propelled submarine could stand off China’s coast and threaten it with cruise missiles.

Australia’s existing fleet of submarines, the six diesel-powered Collins class, is equipped with torpedo tubes only. Which means it can fire torpedoes at targets in the water but not missiles at targets on land.

But it had been a 40-year fantasy of Australian governments to get American nuclear propulsion. Canberra had been turned down every time. Indeed, no earlier request had even reached the president’s desk. The US Nuclear Navy, guardians of the technology, had ruled it out of the question.

Now the Australian appeal had the president’s full attention. The briefing paper in front of him ran through the positives and negatives of such an arrangement –it did not contain a recommendation.

On the positive side of the ledger, the top consideration was that it would help counter China. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has the advantage over the US in warfighting on and above the ocean. Arming an ally with nuclear-powered subs would help blunt China’s edge.

Nuclear-propelled submarines “are fast, they have stamina, they bring a whole spectrum of weapons, and if you are China, how are Australian and US forces working together?” poses the former chief of US Naval Operations, retired Admiral Jonathan Greenert.

“You don’t know their sovereign decisions. Your imagination is your biggest nightmare – what could they be doing? They can reposition fast, 25 knots [46km/h] for a full day. If an adversary says, ‘I’ve got a detection of a nuclear sub’, great – when? Two days ago. Then you draw a circle on the map and see where it might be. It’s a big circle.”

The US today has 68 submarines, all nuclear-powered. China has an estimated 76 subs, of which 12 are nuclear-powered. But the US fleet is shrinking as it retires older subs faster than it can build new ones. China’s nuclear-powered fleet is expanding. The AUKUS agreement aims to help Australia acquire eight.

Second, it would cement the alliance with Australia. Just a few years earlier, many in the US foreign policy community including Campbell had tipped Australia to be the ally most vulnerable to China’s influence, that it would “flip” and align with Beijing.

Instead, Australia had “set an incredibly powerful example” for the world in standing up to China, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview this year. A nuclear subs deal would lock Australia more tightly into the US bloc.

Third, it would help the US to deter China’s expansion through the Indo-Pacific. It would signal US commitment to the region and to US allies, reassuring other Indo-Pacific nations who might be doubting American staying power. “The president said, ‘this could be quite powerful’,” according to an official who was present.

But on the other side of the ledger, Biden himself raised four big concerns with the Australian request. First was nuclear proliferation. Since the deal with Britain in 1958, Washington, London and Canberra, among others, had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. If we give the Australians this technology, won’t we be in breach of the treaty, Biden wanted to know?

Second was the response from China. How will Beijing react if we agree to this? Will it provoke Xi Jinping into accelerating his own naval build-up, into getting more aggressive?

Third was Australia’s capability. Would the Australian political system be capable of bipartisan commitment for the decades required? Is Australian politics stable enough? Could Australia afford the price tag?

Fourth, would the US Nuclear Navy be prepared to deliver? This had been the obstacle to every other Australian inquiry. This elite priesthood is the guardian of the fast, stealthy, underwater Doomsday machines that are America’s last line of defence.

America’s nuclear warfighting is structured on a “triad” – ground-based, airborne and undersea forces. The ground-based and airborne forces are the most vulnerable to enemy attack. But even if these are destroyed in a surprise first strike by an enemy, its nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed subs are designed to survive, undetected in the dark depths, to deliver annihilation to the enemy. By guaranteeing “second strike” capability, they deter any adversary from even thinking about launching a first.

Australia was not asking for nuclear weapons; it was content to arm its subs with conventional missiles. And Canberra was not so much concerned about nuclear Armageddon. Australia has entrusted that responsibility to the US, sheltering under America’s nuclear “umbrella”. Australia was feeling threatened by China and wanted the capacity to threaten it in return.

As the discussion around the White House table unfolded last year, other concerns emerged. The group included Secretary of State Blinken, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley.

What if we attempt this three-way agreement with Australia and Britain and it fails? The credibility of all three nations would be damaged. Have the Australians consulted fully with the French about their contract? Do we risk alienating one ally to gratify another?

The meeting broke up without a decision and with big questions needing to be answered. In the meantime, Australia had a contract with Paris – and French President Emmanuel Macron was deeply invested in it………..

In France, national pride and national honour were engaged, not to mention French economics – it was the biggest defence export contract France had signed, and the biggest Australian acquisition. The contract value was $50 billion but adjustments for inflation and extras took the total deal to at least $90 billion.

………………………………… Towards the end of 2019, Morrison started to ask his closest advisers about fallback options, including nuclear-propelled ones.   They told him of the joyless history of Australian requests for nuclear propulsion and that the likelihood of getting the technology from the US or Britain was “very, very low”. And they warned him that Australia would need a civil nuclear industry. Without one, it couldn’t maintain the nuclear reactors that drive the boats. On March 19, 2020, two months after the Audit Office report, the prime minister took the first formal step towards exploring contingencies.

…….  Secretly, he asked the secretary of the Defence Department, Greg Moriarty, for a discussion paper about all the options, including nuclear-propelled ones. He had the result within a fortnight……

Morrison decided to take the next step regardless. In May, 2020, he asked Moriarty and the military co-leader of the Defence Department, Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, to form a small, expert group to see whether it was feasible for Australia to acquire and operate nuclear-powered subs. The top-secret exercise was led by the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan.

It came back with the conclusion that it was potentially feasible, but on two conditions. One, it was only possible with the help of the US, Britain or both. This was the only way Australia could operate nuclear-powered subs without setting up a civil nuclear industry to support them.

America and Britain use highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium to run their subs’ reactors. That means the reactors don’t need refuelling for the life of the boat itself, some 30 years.

Two, the same consideration ruled out the French nuclear-propelled sub, the big Barracudas Macron had launched so proudly, as an option. The French use low-enriched uranium, meaning their reactors need to be refuelled every decade or so in a lengthy process called full-cycle docking. This would keep the Australian fleet permanently dependent on Paris.

Moriarty’s opinion was that this would not be a sovereign Australian capability. Unless Australia started its own civil nuclear industry to refuel and maintain the reactors, something which Morrison would not countenance.

Tantalised, Morrison immediately asked Defence to contact the Pentagon to test its assumptions. Through a series of secure video conferences between the Pentagon and Defence’s headquarters on Russell Hill, the US Navy gave a guarded endorsement, summarised by an Australian official: “There’s nothing in your thinking that’s completely implausible”. But there was no enthusiasm from the Americans and certainly no commitment to help.

For the prime minister, this was a “game changer” nonetheless, as he’s described it to colleagues. The revelation: It was possible to have a nuclear-powered attack submarine, or SSN as navies call it, without needing to service the reactor.

To now, Morrison had briefed only two members of his cabinet, Linda Reynolds and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne. But now that he envisaged raising the idea with the American president and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he decided to widen the circle.

When he briefed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, he met an enthusiastic response. He remarked that the politics in the three capitals of Washington, London and Canberra seemed to be in alignment. “You could never do this deal with (the former leader of British Labour) Jeremy Corbyn,” said Frydenberg. “When a gate like this opens, you go through it.”

But what of the multibillion-dollar cost of cancelling the French deal and the far greater cost of building SSNs? “Everything is affordable if it’s a priority,” was the treasurer’s attitude. “This is a priority.”

Morrison then took it to the National Security Committee of his cabinet. This is the overarching mechanism for co-ordinating defence and security and includes top officials and ministers responsible for defence, foreign affairs, home affairs and intelligence. It gave Morrison the green light to take it further. “It was a high level of secrecy because there was no guarantee we could pull it off,” Morrison told colleagues. He didn’t want to disrupt progress with the French toward a conventional sub in case he failed with the Anglo American nuclear option, and end up with neither.

Morrison kept it so tight that the PM’s personal permission was required before any official could be brought into the charmed circle, a top civil servant explained. “So if anything leaked, you knew you’d be personally accountable to the PM himself,” said the official.

………….  Australia then, and now, had no long-range strike capability whatsoever. None on land, none in the air force, none in the navy. The ADF was set up for counterinsurgency wars as part of a US alliance like those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and low-level conflict in the Pacific Islands like the missions in East Timor and the Solomons, but was unprepared for high-intensity warfighting with a capable nation state.

Reynolds tasked the Capability Enhancement Review with recommending the strike power Australia needed. One part was to be the nuclear subs project. Campbell made a crucial choice by appointing Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead………

Eventually, the moment arrived for Australia’s first approach to the Biden White House. ……

In May 2021, the moment came. The director-general of Australia’s peak intelligence assessment agency, the Office of National Intelligence, Andrew Shearer, was planning a routine visit to Washington to consult with his US counterparts. He’d been briefed on the nuclear subs project. Would you like me to broach it with the White House, he asked the prime minister? Morrison agreed. Shearer managed to sidestep the Russian roulette of Australia’s vaccine rollout with the help of doctors at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade………..

Shearer and Campbell had known each other for decades. He explained what Australia wanted. “As China’s capability advances, we need to have submarines capable of meeting it. We need to be able to operate without the risk of easy detection by the Chinese,” Shearer said, according to the participants.

…………..  My sources didn’t put it quite this bluntly, but everyone in the room understood that this was about Australia acquiring the power to pose a direct threat to China’s forces and the Chinese mainland.

Sullivan and Campbell immediately were interested. Biden has described the US rivalry with China as “the competition for the 21st century”. With this request, Australia was choosing sides emphatically.

……………  Shearer emphasised that Australia had no intention of developing a civil nuclear industry or developing nuclear weapons. He said that Canberra was satisfied it could operate the subs while preserving Australia’s strong record on nuclear non-proliferation.

Sullivan and Campbell had lots of questions about Australian technological, personnel and financial capacity but the potential killer at this threshold meeting was Australian politics. “We asked lots of questions about politics,” said Campbell. “Would this be contentious? Would this hold?”

Bipartisan political commitment, Labor and Liberal, was a prerequisite, the Americans said. “This would be a military marriage. It would have to hold over decades.”

………….   when Shearer returned to Canberra he made clear to Morrison and his other colleagues that the White House had set political bipartisanship as a non-negotiable condition. “If Albo says ‘no’, the deal will be dead,” as Australia’s ambassador to Washington, Arthur Sinodinos, put it to colleagues.

……..  the prime minister decided not to brief Labor leader Anthony Albanese for five months. He briefed him on the day before the deal was to be announced in a three-way piece of theatre with Morrison, Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden. It was high stakes on a very tight deadline.

This is part one of a two-part series by Peter Hartcher examining the AUKUS deal. The series concludes on Sunday, May 15.  https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/radioactive-inside-the-top-secret-aukus-subs-deal-20220510-p5ak7g.html

May 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ending the War of Attrition in Ukraine

by Jeffrey D. Sachs, NEW YORK (IDN) 114 May 22, — Wars often erupt and persist because of the two sides’ miscalculations regarding their relative power. In the case of Ukraine, Russia blundered badly by underestimating the resolve of Ukrainians to fight and the effectiveness of NATO-supplied weaponry. Yet Ukraine and NATO are also overestimating their capacity to defeat Russia on the battlefield. The result is a war of attrition that each side believes it will win, but that both sides will lose.

Ukraine should intensify the search for a negotiated peace of the type that was on the table in late March, but which it then abandoned following evidence of Russian atrocities in Bucha—and perhaps owing to changing perceptions of its military prospects.

The peace terms under discussion in late March called for Ukraine’s neutrality, backed by security guarantees and a timeline to address contentious issues such as the status of Crimea and the Donbas. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators stated that there was progress in the negotiations, as did the Turkish mediators. The negotiations then collapsed after the reports from Bucha, with Ukraine’s negotiator stating that “Ukrainian society is now much more negative about any negotiation concept that concerns the Russian Federation.”

But the case for negotiations remains urgent and overwhelming. The alternative is not Ukraine’s victory but a devastating war of attrition. To reach an agreement, both sides need to recalibrate their expectations.

When Russia attacked Ukraine, it clearly expected a quick and easy victory. Russia vastly underestimated the upgrading of the Ukraine military following years of US, British, and other military support and training since 2014. Moreover, Russia underestimated the extent to which NATO military technology would counter Russia’s greater number of troops. No doubt, Russia’s greatest error was to assume that the Ukrainians would not fight—or perhaps even switch sides.

Russia’s greatest error was to assume that the Ukrainians would not fight—or perhaps even switch sides.

Yet now Ukraine and its Western supporters are overestimating the chances of defeating Russia on the battlefield. The idea that the Russian army is about to collapse is wishful thinking. Russia has the military capacity to destroy Ukrainian infrastructure (such as the rail lines now under attack) and to win and hold territory in the Donbas region and on the Black Sea coast. Ukrainians are fighting resolutely, but it is highly unlikely that they can force a Russian defeat.

Nor can Western financial sanctions, which are far less sweeping and effective than the governments that imposed them acknowledge. ………………

Moreover, the sanctions are creating serious economic consequences for the United States and especially Europe……………..

In the meantime, Ukraine continues to suffer grievously in terms of deaths, dislocation, and destruction. The IMF now forecasts a 35% contraction of Ukraine’s economy in 2022, reflecting the brutal destruction of housing, factories, rail stock, energy storage and transmission capacity, and other vital infrastructure.

Most dangerous of all, as long as the war continues, the risk of nuclear escalation is real. If Russia’s conventional forces were actually to be pushed toward defeat, as the US is now seeking, Russia might well counter with tactical nuclear weapons. A US or Russian aircraft could be shot down by the other side as they scramble over the Black Sea, which in turn could lead to direct military conflict. Media reports that the US has covert forces on the ground, and the US intelligence community’s disclosure that it helped Ukraine kill Russian generals and sink Russia’s Black Sea flagship, underscore the danger.

The reality of the nuclear threat means that both sides should never forgo the possibility of negotiations. That is the central lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which took place 60 years ago this coming October. President John F. Kennedy saved the world then by negotiating an end to the crisis—agreeing that the US would never again invade Cuba and that the US would remove its missiles from Turkey in exchange for the withdrawal of the Soviet missiles from Cuba. That was not giving in to Soviet nuclear blackmail. That was Kennedy wisely avoiding Armageddon.

It is still possible to establish peace in Ukraine based on the parameters that were on the table at the end of March: neutrality, security guarantees, a framework for addressing Crimea and the Donbas, and Russian withdrawal. This remains the only realistic and safe course for Ukraine, Russia, and the world. The world would rally to such an agreement, and, for its own survival and well-being, so should Ukraine.https://www.indepthnews.net/index.php/opinion/5298-ending-the-war-of-attrition-in-ukraine#.Yn3tJBvujtI.twitter


May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Biden demanded bipartisan support before signing AUKUS. Labor was not told for months

By Peter Hartcher, May 14, 2022 The Biden administration insisted from the outset that it would only consider pursuing the landmark AUKUS project if it had solid support from both major Australian political parties, yet Prime Minister Scott Morrison chose not to consult Labor until the day before its announcement.

By waiting four-and-a-half months, the prime minister made AUKUS into a high-stakes, last-minute political gambit.

And, when Morrison later challenged Labor publicly over whether it fully supported the deal, he seemed to be looking for a way to politicise the security partnership.

White House officials emphasised the point as a deal-breaker in the very first discussion on Australia’s request for nuclear-propelled submarines.

The prime minister sent a special emissary, Australia’s spy chief Andrew Shearer, to broach the topic with two senior officials, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and the White House US Indo-Pacific Co-Ordinator, Kurt Campbell on May 1 last year………….

The Democratic White House were frustrated at the lack of clarity from Australia. They called on a special assistant to the President who had been posted to Australia, Edgard Kagan, for his view.

They called on a special assistant to the President who had been posted to Australia, Edgard Kagan, for his view.

He observed that the Australian government seemed confident that Labor would support such a deal when they were eventually informed.

The Americans could see that if Labor baulked, Morrison would use it as a wedge against Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in the approach to an election.

They would frame him as weak on national security.,………………………..  https://www.smh.com.au/national/biden-demanded-bipartisan-support-before-signing-aukus-labor-was-not-told-for-months-20220513-p5al9d.html

May 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

The end of Adani? Investment giant says coal miner has revealed Carmichael closure plan

The end of Adani? Investment giant says coal miner has revealed Carmichael closure plan

Investment manager Vanguard says coal giant Adani has revealed that its Carmichael mine would be closed in order for the company to “fit within the parameters of a 1.5 degree warming scenario”.

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian voters deserve a ministers’ debate on climate and energy. They won’t get one — RenewEconomy

Given the world is in the midst of a major climate crisis, Australian voters deserved a climate ministers’ debate. The post Australian voters deserve a ministers’ debate on climate and energy. They won’t get one appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Australian voters deserve a ministers’ debate on climate and energy. They won’t get one — RenewEconomy

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Taylor quietly tips $3m into another brown coal to hydrogen venture — RenewEconomy

More funding quietly tipped into brown coal to hydrogen projects, as the Coalition’s election fossil hydrogen subsides top $400 million. The post Taylor quietly tips $3m into another brown coal to hydrogen venture appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Taylor quietly tips $3m into another brown coal to hydrogen venture — RenewEconomy

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet Zoe Daniel: Journalist turned independent fighting for climate, integrity and gender equality — RenewEconomy

Reluctant to join the political fray, Zoe Daniel says failures to act on climate change and integrity in politics motivate her challenge to Tim Wilson. The post Meet Zoe Daniel: Journalist turned independent fighting for climate, integrity and gender equality appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Meet Zoe Daniel: Journalist turned independent fighting for climate, integrity and gender equality — RenewEconomy

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Asia’s Scorching Heatwave: Another Window Into Our Climate-Insecure Planet   — The Center for Climate & Security

By Sarang Shidore South Asia’s cruel heatwave in recent weeks has seen land temperatures reach 122 F (49 C) and air temperatures as high as 143 F (62 C) in India and Pakistan. A brutal April was preceded by a searing March, both setting records on the subcontinent for those months. The peak summer period…

South Asia’s Scorching Heatwave: Another Window Into Our Climate-Insecure Planet   — The Center for Climate & Security

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Direct switch from coal to renewables cheaper than going over gas “bridge”

Direct switch from coal to renewables cheaper than going over gas “bridge”

New analysis shows it is cheaper to switch from coal-fired generation to renewables than to move from coal to gas as a bridge to renewables

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forgetting the apocalypse: why our nuclear fears faded – and why that’s dangerous

The horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made the whole world afraid of the atomic bomb – even those who might launch one. Today that fear has mostly passed out of living memory, and with it we may have lost a crucial safeguard, 

Guardian, by Daniel Immerwahr 13 May, 22”………………….   what had happened in Hiroshima, and three days later in Nagasaki, could happen anywhere.

The thought proved impossible to shake, especially as, within the year, on-the-ground accounts emerged. Reports came of flesh bubbling, of melted eyes, of a terrifying sickness afflicting even those who’d avoided the blast. “All the scientists are frightened – frightened for their lives,” a Nobel-winning chemist confessed in 1946. Despite scientists’ hopes that the weapons would be retired, in the coming decades they proliferated, with nuclear states testing ever-more-powerful devices on Pacific atolls, the Algerian desert and the Kazakh steppe.

The fear – the pervasive, enduring fear – that characterised the cold war is hard to appreciate today. It wasn’t only powerless city-dwellers who were terrified (“select and fortify a room in which to shelter”, the UK government grimly advised). Leaders themselves were shaken. It was “insane”, US president John F Kennedy felt, that “two men, sitting on the opposite sides of the world, should be able to decide to bring an end to civilisation”. Yet everyone knowingly lived with that insanity for decades…………..

……….  The memory of nuclear war, once vivid, is quietly vanishing. ……..

Except that the threat of nuclear war, as Vladimir Putin is reminding the world, has not gone away. 

……….. Yet many of Putin’s adversaries seem either unconvinced or, worse, unbothered by his threats. Boris Johnson has flatly dismissed the idea that Russia may use a nuclear weapon. Three former Nato supreme allied commanders have proposed a no-fly zone over Ukraine. This would almost certainly entail direct military conflict between Nato and Russia, and possibly trigger the world’s first all-out war between nuclear states. Still, social media boils over with calls to action, and a poll found that more than a third of US respondents wanted their military to intervene “even if it risks a nuclear conflict”.

Nuclear norms are fraying elsewhere, too. Nine countries collectively hold some 10,000 warheads, and six of those countries are increasing their inventories. Current and recent leaders such as Kim Jong-un, Narendra Modi and Donald Trump have, like Putin, spoken brazenly of firing their weapons……………..

Leaders have talked tough before. But now their talk seems less tethered to reality. This is the first decade when not a single head of a nuclear state can remember Hiroshima.

Does that matter? We’ve seen in other contexts what happens when our experience of a risk attenuates. In rich countries, the waning memory of preventable diseases has fed the anti-vaccination movement. “People have become complacent,” notes epidemiologist Peter Salk, whose father, Jonas Salk, invented the polio vaccine. Not having lived through a polio epidemic, parents are rejecting vaccines to the point where measles and whooping cough are coming back and many have needlessly died of Covid-19.

That is the danger with nuclear war. Using declassified documents, historians now understand how close we came, multiple times, to seeing the missiles fired. In those heartstopping moments, a visceral understanding of what nuclear war entailed helped keep the launch keys from turning. It’s precisely that visceral understanding that’s missing today. We’re entering an age with nuclear weapons but no nuclear memory. Without fanfare, without even noticing, we may have lost a guardrail keeping us from catastrophe.

……………….The US occupation authorities in Japan had censored details of the bomb’s aftermath. But, without consulting the censors, the American writer John Hersey published in the New Yorker one of the most important long-form works of journalism ever written, a graphic account of the bombing. Born to missionaries in China, Hersey was unusually sympathetic to Asian perspectives. His Hiroshima article rejected the bomber’s-eye view and instead told the stories of six survivors.

For many readers, this was the first time they registered that Hiroshima wasn’t a “Japanese army base”, as US president Harry Truman had described it when announcing the bombing, but a city of civilians – doctors, seamstresses, factory workers – who had watched loved ones die. Nor did they die cleanly, vaporised in the puff of a mushroom cloud. Hersey profiled a Methodist pastor, Kiyoshi Tanimoto, who raced to the aid of his ailing but very much still-living neighbours. As Tanimoto grasped one woman, “her skin slipped off in huge, glove-pieces”. Tanimoto “was so sickened by this that he had to sit down for a minute”, wrote Hersey. “He had to keep consciously repeating to himself, ‘These are human beings.’”

Hersey’s contemporaries understood the significance of these accounts. The New Yorker dedicated its full issue to Hersey’s article, and within an hour sold out its entire newsstand print run of 300,000 (plus another 200,000 copies to subscribers). Knopf published it as a book, which eventually sold millions. The text was reprinted in newspapers from France to China, the Netherlands to Bolivia. The massive ABC radio network broadcast Hersey’s text – with no commercials, music or sound effects – over four consecutive evenings. “No other publication in the American 20th century,” the journalism historian Kathy Roberts Forde has written, “was so widely circulated, republished, discussed, and venerated.”

Tanimoto, boosted to celebrity by Hersey’s reporting, made speaking tours of the US. By the end of 1949, he had visited 256 cities. Like Einstein, he pleaded for world government.

Rising tensions between Washington and Moscow erased the possibility of global government. Still, they didn’t change the fact: across the west, leading thinkers felt nuclear weapons to be so dangerous that they required, in Churchill’s words, remoulding “the relationships of all men of all nations” so that “international bodies by supreme authority may give peace on earth and justice among men”.

………………………………………   Maybe one could dismiss the fallout shelters as theatre and the films as fiction. But then there were the bomb tests – great belches of radioactivity that previewed the otherworldly dangers of nuclear weapons. By 1980, the nuclear powers had run 528 atmospheric tests, raising mushroom clouds everywhere from the Pacific atoll of Kiritimati to the Chinese desert. A widely publicised 1961 study of 61,000 baby teeth collected in St Louis showed that children born after the first hydrogen bombs were tested had markedly higher levels of the carcinogen strontium-90, a byproduct of the tests, despite being some 1,500km away from the closest test site.

Unsurprisingly, nuclear tests stoked resistance. In 1954, a detonation by the US at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific got out of hand, irradiating the inhabited atoll of Rongelap and an unfortunate Japanese tuna fishing boat. When the boat’s sickened crew returned to Japan, pandemonium erupted. Petitions describing Japan as “thrice victimised by nuclear bombs” and calling for a ban collected tens of millions of signatures. Ishiro Honda, a film director who’d seen the Hiroshima damage firsthand, made a wildly popular film about a monster, Gojira, awakened by the nuclear testing. Emitting “high levels of H-bomb radiation”, Gojira attacks a fishing boat and then breathes fire on a Japanese city.

…………………..  Hiroshima occupied a similar place in public memory to Auschwitz, the other avatar of the unspeakable. The resemblance ran deep. Both terms identified specific events within the broader violence of the second world war – highlighting the Jews among Hitler’s victims, and the atomic bomb victims among the many Japanese who were bombed – and marked them as morally distinct. Both Hiroshima and Auschwitz had been the site of “holocausts” (indeed, early writers more often used that term to describe atomic war than European genocide). And both Hiroshima and Auschwitz sent forth a new type of personage: the “survivor”, a hallowed individual who had borne witness to a historically unique horror. What Elie Wiesel did to raise the stature of Europe’s survivors, Tanimoto did for Japan’s. In their hands, Hiroshima and Auschwitz shared a message: never forgetnever again

.…………The whole idea is to kill the bastards,” said US general Thomas Power, when presented in 1960 with a nuclear plan designed to minimise casualties. “Look. At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win.” This is the man who led the US Strategic Air Command – responsible for its nuclear bombs and missiles – during the Cuban missile crisis.

Generals like Power, tasked with winning wars, pressed often for pre-emptive strikes……………………..

Today, knowledge of the Holocaust is kept alive by more than 100 museums and memorials, including in such unexpected countries as Cuba, Indonesia and Taiwan. But there is no comparable memory industry outside of Japan to remind people of nuclear war.

The result is a profound generational split, evident in nearly every family in a nuclear state……………

 the dispelling of dread has made it hard for many to take nuclear war seriously…………

With nuclear threats far from mind, voters seem more tolerant of reckless politicians. ……..

Nor is it only Trump. The nine nuclear states have had an impressive string of norm-breakers among their recent leaders, including Trump, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Kim Jong-un and Benjamin Netanyahu. With such erratic men talking wildly and tearing up rulebooks, it’s plausible that one of them might be provoked to break the ultimate norm: don’t start a nuclear war.

………… how guided are leaders by such fears? In the past 20 years, the US has pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and two of the three main treaties restraining its arms race with Russia (the third is in bad shape). Meanwhile, China has been developing aggressive new weapons……… India’s its prime minister, Modi, declared. India has the “mother of nuclear bombs” ……

The cost of the shredded norms and torn-up treaties may be paid in Ukraine. Russia invested heavily in its nuclear arsenal after the cold war; it now has the world’s largest. The worse the war in Ukraine goes, the more Putin might be tempted to reach for a tactical nuclear weapon to signal his resolve.

………………  we can’t drive nuclear war to extinction by ignoring it. Instead, we must dismantle arsenals, strengthen treaties and reinforce antinuclear norms. Right now, we’re doing the opposite. And we’re doing it just at the time when those who have most effectively testified to nuclear war’s horrors – the survivors – are entering their 90s. Our nuclear consciousness is badly atrophied. We’re left with a world full of nuclear weapons but emptying of people who understand their consequences.  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/12/forgetting-the-apocalypse-why-our-nuclear-fears-faded-and-why-thats-dangerous

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The dangerous business of dismantling America’s aging nuclear plants

The NRC has given Holtec permission to pare back safety and security requirements at its plants, including security personnel, cybersecurity, emergency planning, terrorist attack drills and accident insurance, according to documents on the agency’s website.

“The NRC has not figured out a permanent solution” to nuclear waste………. “They are using Holtec as a Band-Aid.”

  Accidents at New Jersey’s Oyster Creek power plant have spurred calls for stricter oversight of the burgeoning nuclear decommissioning industry  Washington Post, By Douglas MacMillan  PORKED RIVER, N.J. — The new owner took over the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in 2019, promising to dismantle one of the nation’s oldest nuclear plants at minimal cost and in record time. Then came a series of worrisome accidents.

The new owner took over the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in 2019, promising to dismantle one of the nation’s oldest nuclear plants at minimal cost and in record time. Then came a series of worrisome accidents.

One worker was struck by a 100-ton metal reactor dome. Another was splashed with radioactive water, according to internal incident reports and regulatory inspection reports reviewed by The Washington Post. Another worker drove an excavator into an electrical wire on his first day on the job, knocking out power to 31,000 homes and businesses on the New Jersey coast, according to a police report and the local power company.

All three incidents occurred on the watch of Holtec International, a nuclear equipment manufacturer based in Jupiter, Fla. Though the company until recently had little experience shutting down nuclear plants, Holtec has emerged as a leader in nuclear cleanup, a burgeoning field riding an expected wave of closures as licenses expire for the nation’s aging nuclear fleet.

Over the past three years, Holtec has purchased three plants in three states and expects to finalize a fourth this summer.  The company is seeking to profitably dismantle them by replacing hundreds of veteran plant workers with smaller, less-costly crews of contractors and eliminating emergency planning measures, documents and interviews show. While no one has been seriously injured at Oyster Creek, the missteps are spurring calls for stronger government oversight of the entire cleanup industry.

In the nearly three years Holtec has owned Oyster Creek, regulators have documented at least nine violations of federal rules, including the contaminated water mishap, falsified weapons inspection reports and other unspecified security lapses. That’s at least as many as were found over the preceding 10 years at the plant, when it was owned by Exelon, one of the nation’s largest utility companies, according to The Post’s review of regulatory records.,…………………

Holtec is pioneering an experimental new business model. During the lifetime of America’s 133 nuclear reactors, ratepayers paid small fees on their monthly energy bills to fill decommissioning trust funds, intended to cover the eventual cost of deconstructing the plants. Trust funds for the country’s 94 operating and 14 nonoperating nuclear reactors now total about $86 billion, according to Callan, a San Francisco-based investment consulting firm.

After a reactor is dismantled and its site cleared, some of these trust funds must return any money left over to ratepayers. But others permit cleanup companies to keep any surplus as profit — creating incentives to cut costs at sites that house some of the most dangerous materials on the planet.

Even after reactors are shut down, long metal rods containing radioactive pellets — known as spent fuel — are stored steps away, in cooling pools and steel-and-concrete casks. Nuclear safety experts say that an industrial accident or a terrorist attack at any of these sites could result in a radiological release with severe impacts to workers and nearby residents, as well as to the environment.

(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the independent federal agency tasked with overseeing safety at nuclear sites, conducts regular inspections during the decommissioning process. But state and local officials say the NRC has failed to safeguard the public from risks at shut-down plants, deferring too readily to companies like Holtec.

“The NRC is not doing their job,” said Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who has pushed the agency to adopt stricter regulations around plant decommissioning. “We need a guaranteed system that prioritizes communities and safety, and we don’t have that right now.”

The NRC’s leadership is divided over the role regulators should play. The agency was created in 1974, as the first generation of commercial reactors was going online, and its rules were mainly designed to safeguard the operation of active plants and nuclear-material sites. As reactors shut down, the NRC began reducing inspections and exempting plants from safety and security rules.

Last November, the NRC approved a new rule that would automatically qualify shut-down plants for looser safety and security restrictions.

Continue reading

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UN: There is ‘credible’ information Ukrainian forces are torturing Russian POWs  

  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/foreign/un-there-is-credible-information-ukrainian-forces-are-torturing-russian-pows

Abigail Adcox, Washington Examiner, Tue, 10 May 2022 

There is “credible” information that Russian prisoners of war have been mistreated by Ukrainian forces since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February, a United Nations official said.

The evidence suggests that Russia is not the only country willing to break international norms during war, as the U.N. reports that Ukrainian forces have subjected Russians under their watch to treatment that violates

 international law, Matilda Bogner, head of the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukrainesaid Tuesday.


“Ukraine and Russia must promptly and effectively investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war. They must also effectively control and instruct their forces to stop any further violations from occurring.”

Russia is accused of several war crimes, including raping Ukrainian women, targeting and killing innocent civilians, and forcing others to go to Russia against their will.

Comment: Given Ukraine’s long history of prisoner abuse throughout the eight-year war on Donetsk-Lugansk, torture is its standard procedure. Were the UN’s complaints effective then?

Some of the violations were determined by Bogner and other U.N. officials during a visit to towns in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions that were occupied by Russian armed forces until the end of March.

The group also reported that hundreds of educational or medical facilities have been damaged or destroyed in areas of hostility across the country. At least 50 places of worship have been damaged, more than half of which cannot be used. Bogner said:

“The best way to end the violations that we have been documenting will be to end the hostilities. However, while they are ongoing and for as long as they last, parties must in the conduct of operations take constant care to spare the civilian population.”

“We have received credible information of torture, ill-treatment and incommunicado detention by Ukrainian Armed Forces against prisoners of war from Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups. We continue to see the publication of videos, which show inhumane treatment, including prisoners from both sides being coerced to make statements, apologies and confessions, and other forms of humiliation.”

The mistreatment from both sides is considered a violation of international humanitarian law, as the U.N. continues to investigate and document egregious violations since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Ukraine and Russia must promptly and effectively investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war. They must also effectively control and instruct their forces to stop any further violations from occurring,” Bogner said.

Russia is accused of several war crimes, including raping Ukrainian women, targeting and killing innocent civilians, and forcing others to go to Russia against their will.

Some of the violations were determined by Bogner and other U.N. officials during a visit to towns in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions that were occupied by Russian armed forces until the end of March.

The group also reported that hundreds of educational or medical facilities have been damaged or destroyed in areas of hostility across the country. At least 50 places of worship have been damaged, more than half of which cannot be used.

“The best way to end the violations that we have been documenting will be to end the hostilities,” Bogner said. “However, while they are ongoing and for as long as they last, parties must in the conduct of operations take constant care to spare the civilian population.”

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GT: NATO’s northward expansion risks turning Europe into powder keg — Anti-bellum

Global TimesMay 13, 2022 NATO’s northward expansion risks turning Europe into a new powder keg “Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin jointly announced on Thursday. A similar announcement will come from Sweden on Sunday. After its eastward expansion, NATO is moving northward, which might […]

GT: NATO’s northward expansion risks turning Europe into powder keg — Anti-bellum

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment