Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear news – Australia and more

A bit of good news –  this  week Vienna, Austria, is hosting the First Meeting of States Parties, UN member states that have agreed to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Over 100 governments will participate. The great majority of the world’s representatives — 122 countries — voted their approval of the TPNW in 2017, and 62 have since ratified it. The treaty has entered into force, and only the tiny minority of nuclear-armed governments and their military allies continue to reject it. In the midst of all the doom and gloom news, we need to remember that thousands of people in many nations are working for a better world.

Otherwise – the week has been a perfect storm of awful news. The coronavirus pandemic has not gone away – far from it!  Global heating is striking – the poles are melting at a fast rate, floods in India and Bangladesh, extreme heat in Europe, wildfires in Germany, Greece, Spain and New Jersey. USA.   USA and UK determined to punish Julian Assange forever –   let that be a warning to any journalist who exposes USA military atrocities !


Can Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese save Julian Assange? If Albanese asks for Assange’s freedom, Biden has every reason to agree: Bob Carr. Julian Assange and family suffer as unjust detention continues Federal government lobbying behind the scenes for Assange’s freedom.

Australia yet to sign up to treaty banning nuclear weapons but will attend UN meeting as observer. ICAN Australia welcomes government decision to attend the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an observer.

Why nuclear energy won’t work in Australia. D’oh! David Littleproud’s nuclear comments insult our intelligence.

No decision yet on choosing USA or UK nuclear submarines, but a USA Bill to train Australian submariners! – writer.   Australia’s Opposition Leader Dutton Says US Can Provide Two Nuclear Subs by 2030.

Albanese locks in Australia’s higher 2030 emissions reduction target . “Australia is under new management”: Bowen tells clean energy investors.

BP takes 40% stake in vast $30bn Australian renewables project. “The problem is not renewables:” Bowen puts Uhlmann back in his coal box. More than 1GW of battery storage to replace coal in world’s biggest isolated grid.


Assange Is Doing His Most Important Work Yet. The UK’s Decision to Extradite Assange Shows Why The US/UK’s Freedom Lectures Are a Farce.

The deteriorating nuclear order. The Nuclear Weapons Treaty Ban in the Footsteps of 1982’s Million-Person March.

Nuclear-armed nations spent $82.4bn on weapons in 2021From all continents: mercenaries from 55 nations serving in Ukrainian army.

Pope Francis again says that the West provoked or failed to prevent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Rosatom Exemption: How Russia’s State-Run Nuclear Giant Has Escaped Sanctions.

Bank group accused of exploiting loopholes and ‘greenwashing’ in climate pledge.

UKRAINE. The US-led bloc is unwilling to fight Russia directly and treats Ukraine as a proxy, Dutch PM admits. Ukraine vows to reclaim Crimea with US weapons. Ukraine killing civilians in ‘unprecedented’ shelling on Donetsk ignored by Western media and politicians. Profit in a time of war? The madness of more reactors (from Westinghouse) in Ukraine.

ANTARCTICA. Antarctic “doomsday glacier” melting at faster rate than in past 5,500 years.

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

ICAN Australia welcomes government decision to attend the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an observer

Gem Romuld, ICAN Australia, 20 June 22,

We are delighted to share the news that Australia will attend the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an observer. We welcome the government’s decision to engage with this critical meeting as a step towards signature and ratification.

The federal member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman MP, will head up Australia’s delegation. Templeman stated to ICAN in 2022, “I’ve been personally committed to this for as long as I can remember”. We look forward to Australia playing a positive and productive role at this historic first meeting for the TPNW.

This morning we are excited to publicly release an open letter to Prime Minister Albanese calling on him to join the TPNW, signed by 55 former Australian Ambassadors and High Commissioners.

It says “we warmly welcome your pre-election commitment to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which we regard as essential for bringing the current nuclear arms race to an end and for establishing the kind of truly representative multilateral framework that might be expected to usher in and support a new era of genuine disarmament.”

The letter’s  signatories include former diplomatic representatives to the US, United Kingdom, China, Indonesia, Japan and the United Nations. Several are experts in the field of disarmament.

They expressed hope that under Mr Albanese’s leadership the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world would be reinstated as “an Australian foreign policy priority” and Labor’s commitment to the TPNW would be “swiftly realised”.

Last night we hosted a special community meeting in Port Augusta before Mia Haseldine, Aunty Sue Coleman-Haseldine and Karina Lester (pictured below) crossed live to the Nuclear Ban Forum in Vienna. They shared their personal stories of the impacts of nuclear weapons testing in Australia and their perspectives on the TPNW and what it can do to assist survivors. It was a profound conversation, with a very clear call for Australia to join the treaty as a key step on the path to nuclear justice. The recording is coming soon, if you missed it.

Tonight the second Nuclear Ban Hub kicks off in Fremantle and online, all the registration details are here. For written analysis of each day this week, keep your eye on the Vienna Blog “Sacher-Torte: a slice of the nuclear ban action in Vienna” here!

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

If Albanese asks for Assange’s freedom, Biden has every reason to agree: Bob Carr

The Age, 20 June 22, “…………………….. It was the Trump administration – probably at the insistence of then-CIA chief Mike Pompeo – that pursued Assange’s extradition. The Morrison government declined even the faintest whinny of protest. It was as if we were not a sovereign government but some category of US territory like Puerto Rico and an Australian passport holder didn’t rate protection from the vengeful anger of one corner of the American security apparatus. A France or Germany – a New Zealand  would not have been as craven.

Here lies Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s most potent argument as he proceeds to winkle out of the Biden administration a decision to quietly drop its pursuit of Assange, even after Britain announced on Friday that it had approved his extradition to the US. Albanese can say that, to Australian public opinion, it looks like one rule for Americans, another for citizens of its ally.

Albanese can gently remind Washington that President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. That is, he lifted her sentence for gifting to Assange the material that he published on Wikileaks in 2010. This was the collateral murder video that showed soldiers in a US Apache helicopter mowing down civilians with their automatic weapons in Iraq in 2007. The video exposed America’s lack of rules of engagement but, more than that, tore away the justification for the neocon high adventure of the Iraq war.

Manning, the American who slipped the material to Assange, goes free while the Australian who published it faces extradition, trial in Virginia and the rest of his life in cruel confinement in a high-security prison, likely on the plains of Oklahoma.

Albanese doesn’t have to state – because the Americans know it – that we are a darn good partner. A request on Assange is small change in such an alliance relationship. We host vital US communication facilities that likely make Australia a nuclear target. We host ship visits, planes and marines, about which the same baleful point could be made. And, as the capstone, we are spending about $150 billion purchasing US nuclear submarines……………..

In the context of Australia’s role as an ally – the heft we deliver for the US empire – a decision to let Assange walk free rates about five minutes of President Biden’s Oval Office attention. ………………….

The military in the US and Australia have had to admit no lives were lost because of Assange. But we wouldn’t have heard of serious war crimes in a counterproductive war were it not for the haggard prisoner in Belmarsh.

Our new prime minister can say: “We’re not fans of the guy either, Mr President, but it’s gone on long enough. We’re good allies. Let this one drop.“

And if Albanese asks, my guess is America will agree.

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

The UK’s Decision to Extradite Assange Shows Why The US/UK’s Freedom Lectures Are a Farce

Glenn Greenwald, 18 June 22, The Assange persecution is the greatest threat to Western press freedoms in years. It is also a shining monument to the fraud of American and British self-depictions.

The eleven-year persecution of Julian Assange was extended and escalated on Friday morning. The British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, approved the U.S.’s extradition request to send Julian Assange to Virginia to stand trial on eighteen felony charges under the 1917 Espionage Act and other statutes in connection with the 2010 publication by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents showing widespread corruption, deceit, and war crimes by American and British authorities along with their close dictatorial allies in the Middle East.

This decision is unsurprising — it has been obvious for years that the U.S. and UK are determined to destroy Assange as punishment for his journalism exposing their crimes — yet it nonetheless further highlights the utter sham of American and British sermons about freedom, democracy and a free press.

Having reported on the Assange case for years, on countless occasions I’ve laid out the detailed background that led Assange and the U.S. to this point. There is thus no need to recount all of that again; those interested can read the granular trajectory of this persecution here or here.

Suffice to say, Assange — without having been convicted of any crime other than bail jumping, for which he long ago served out his fifty-week sentence — has been in effective imprisonment for more than a decade…………………….

The Home Secretary’s decision this morning — characteristically subservient and obedient of the British when it comes to the demands of the U.S. — does not mean that Assange’s presence on U.S. soil is imminent. Under British law, Assange has the right to pursue a series of appeals contesting the Home Secretary’s decision, and will likely do so. Given that the British judiciary has more or less announced in advance their determination to follow the orders of their American masters, it is difficult to see how these further proceedings will have any effect other than to delay the inevitable………………….

What makes this law so insidious is that, by design, it is almost impossible for the government to lose. As I detailed in Washington Post op-ed when the indictment was first revealed — arguing why it poses the greatest threat to press freedoms in the West in years — this 1917 law is written as a “strict liability” statute, meaning that the defendant is not only guilty as soon as there is proof that they disclosed classified information without authorization, but they are also barred from raising a “justification” defense — meaning they cannot argue to the jury of their peers that it was not only permissible but morally necessary to disclose that information because of the serious wrongdoing and criminality it revealed on the part of the nation’s most powerful political officials. That 1917 law, in other words, is written to offer only show trials but not fair trials.

………………. “free press” guarantees in the U.S. and UK exist only on a piece of parchment and in theory. Citizens are free to do “journalism” as long as it does not disturb or anger or impede real power centers. Employees of The Washington Post and CNN are “free” to say what they want as long as what they are saying is approved and directed by the CIA or the content of their “reporting” advances the interests of the Pentagon’s sprawling war machine……………

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WATCH: Lawyer Stella Assange, wife of Julian, interviewed by David Miranda

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Predictable monstrosity: UK approves Assange extradition,16482, By Binoy Kampmark | 20 June 2022,

The only shock about the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s decision regarding Julian Assange was that it did not come sooner. 

In April, Chief Magistrate Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring expressed the view that he was ‘duty-bound‘ to send the case to Priti Patel to decide on whether to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 grafted from the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917.

Patel, for her part, was never exercised by the more sordid details of the case. Her approach to matters of justice is one of premature adjudication: the guilty are everywhere and only multiply.  When it came to WikiLeaks, such fine points of law and fact as a shaky indictment based on fabricated evidence, meditations on assassination, and a genuine, diagnosed risk of self-harm were piffling distractions. 

The U.S. Department of Justice would not be denied.

Under the Extradition Act 2003,’ a nameless spokesman for the Home Office stated, ‘the Secretary of State must sign an extradition order if there are no grounds to prohibit the order being made. Extradition requests are only sent to the Home Secretary once a judge decides it can proceed after considering various aspects of the case.’

Evidently, overt politicisation, bad faith, and flimsy reassurances from the U.S. Department of Justice on how Assange will be detained, do not constitute sufficient grounds. 

But the cue came from the courts themselves, which have done a fabulous job of covering the U.S. justice system with tinsel in actually believing assurances that Assange would not be facing special administrative detention measures (SAMs) or permanent captivity in the ADX Florence supermax in Colorado. 

The statement read:

‘In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.’

In such a scatterbrained and amoral cosmos that marks decision-making in the Home Office, no mention has been made of the surveillance operation against the publisher in the Ecuadorian embassy, orchestrated at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). None, either, of contemplated abduction or assassination, or the frail mental health Assange finds himself.

As late as 10 June, a letter from the group Doctors for Assange, comprising 300 doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists, noted that the Home Secretary’s ‘denial of the cruel, inhuman treatment inflicted upon Assange was then, and is even more so now, irreconcilable with the reality of the situation’.

In April, an umbrella grouping of 19 organisations dedicated to press freedom and free speech urged Patel, in reviewing the case, to appreciate that Assange would “highly likely” face isolation or solitary confinement in the U.S. ‘despite the U.S. Government’s assurances, which would severely exacerbate the risk of suicide’.

The co-chairs of the Courage Foundation’s Assange Defense Committee, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg and Alice Walker, reflected on the depravity of the order in a statement

They wrote:

‘It is a sad day for western democracy. The UK’s decision to extradite Julian Assange to the nation that plotted to assassinate him – the nation that wants to imprison him for 175 years for publishing truthful information in the public interest – is an abomination.’

As for the UK, it had:

‘… shown its complicity in this farce, by agreeing to extradite a foreigner based on politically motivated charges that collapse under the slightest scrutiny.’

Amnesty International expressed similar views, as did Reporters Without Borders. There was even concern from Conservative MP David Davis, who expressed his belief that Assange would not “get a fair trial.” The extradition law was, as matters stood, lopsided in favour of U.S. citizens.

Under the arrangement, individuals crossing the channel will receive one-way tickets to Rwanda to have their claims processed without the prospect of settling in the UK. The Rwandan Government, hostile to contrarians, the rule of law and refugees, will be subsidised for their pain and labour.

To this sadistic streak can be added her admiration for the Espionage Act being used to prosecute Assange. This fact should have disqualified her in any country operating under the rule of law. Even as Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a Conservative no-confidence vote this month, Patel’s National Security Bill passed its second reading in Parliament. 

The bill articulates an offence of ‘obtaining or disclosing protected information’ that includes ‘any information… which either is, or could reasonably be expected to be, subject to any type of restrictions of access for protecting the safety and interests of the UK’.

In a polite nod of deference to U.S. law, the proposed law states that an offence is committed when a person ‘obtains, copies, records or retains protected information, or discloses or provides access to protected information’ for a purpose ‘that they know, or ought reasonably to know, is prejudicial to the safety or interests of the United Kingdom’ and if ‘the foreign power condition is met’

The requirement is that the act is ‘carried out for or on behalf of a foreign power’, including instances where ‘an indirect relationship’ exists.

Assange has 14 days to appeal this insidious rubber-stamping of judicially sanctioned brutality. His legal team are hoping to use the High Court as the route to highlight the political dimension of the case and draw attention back to the way the extradition law was read.

If the defence fails, Assange will be sent across the Atlantic, entrusted to officials, some of whom considered murdering him, to be made an example of. 

It will be the clarion call to regimes across the world that punishing a publisher is something supposed liberal democracies can do as well, and as deviously, as anybody else. 

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

D’oh! David Littleproud’s nuclear comments insult our intelligence

D’oh! David Littleproud’s nuclear comments insult our intelligence Mia Pepper. CCWA Nuclear Free campaign coordinator.  

New federal Nationals leader David Littleproud made headlines this month when he suggested Australians’ collective aversion to nuclear power could be explained by its portrayal in The Simpsons.

“There’s this perception that’s been put around nuclear … etched into folklore from cartoons,” he said.

Perhaps Mr Littleproud would like to calm Australian nerves over rogue coyotes with boxes of TNT or bears swiping picnic baskets from unsuspecting members of the public.

Mr Littleproud’s comments were described as “bizarre” in the media. While he did also attribute nuclear’s image problem to concerns over Chernobyl and Fukushima, it is his comparison to Springfield’s crumbling and dangerous nuclear plant that drew the most ire.

To suggest Australians get their information on subjects like nuclear power from cartoons is to insult our collective intelligence. It might be more plausible to say – as Mr Littleproud did – that opinions have been formed around films and TV series like 2019’s Chernobyl.

However, if we were to follow that trail of thought to its natural conclusion, the only response to Mr Littleproud’s comments is, so what? Film and television comedy and drama enable exploration of many serious, complex topics without being mistaken for news or documentaries – though the creators of the Chernobyl miniseries did receive acclaim for their attention to detail, exhaustive research and stringent adherence to history.

The problem with Mr Littleproud’s points of reference – with the exception of The Simpsons, which is only a cutting parody of real-life incompetency in the nuclear energy industry – is that they are based in fact. Chernobyl and Fukushima really happened and really were as bad as their various dramatisations suggest – it could hardly be otherwise. Perhaps Mr. Littleproud would have been happier if, at the critical moment of the Reactor 4 meltdown, one of the Chernobyl workers had turned to another and declared, “not to worry, I’ll get this cleaned up in no time”?

Behind every dramatic interpretation of a nuclear disaster or depiction of incompetence in nuclear energy and uranium mining is a litany of real-life incidents that has created an enduring global movement against nuclear power. There have been more than 200 recorded nuclear accidents and events worldwide and with nuclear power plants vulnerable to threats exacerbated by climate change, similar incidents are a very real possibility. Climate-related shutdowns have been reported in France, Germany, California and Texas, leading the now-retired nuclear engineer David Lochbaum to state: “You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.”

Ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more than 300 organisations from 40 countries signed a joint declaration against nuclear power. Among them were 49 separate bodies from Australia, including unions, faith groups, environment and conservation bodies, Indigenous groups and health sector organisations representing millions of Australians.

Nuclear has been consistently proven deeply unpopular, ruinously expensive and too slow to implement to provide a serious solution to energy and decarbonisation needs.

By the time the legislation has passed, facilities have been built and workforces trained, 30 to 40 years will have passed along with the window of opportunity to prevent irreversible climate damage. Professor John Quiggin, an Australian laureate fellow in economics at the University of Queensland, has said the idea of producing nuclear power in Australia before 2040 is absurd.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency told a 2019 Senate inquiry into nuclear power that “Australia could not take much less than 15 years from the time a decision is taken to move in this direction; it is not unlikely that it would take longer.”

Even if it were possible to implement nuclear faster, the costs involved in delivering the energy into Australian homes and businesses would be utterly impractical, given the alternatives. In 2016, the South Australian Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle found “it would not be commercially viable to develop a nuclear power plant in South Australia beyond 2030.” In 2019, the Senate inquiry acknowledged “Over the past decade, levelised cost estimates for utility-scale solar dropped by 88 per cent, wind by 69 per cent, while nuclear increased by 23 per cent.”

Only this week, the new federal Minister for Energy Chris Bowen told the media that nuclear power is “the most expensive form of energy” – especially so given the current cost of living crisis.

Furthermore, every review into nuclear over the past two decades has acknowledged there is no bipartisan support for nuclear and strong public opposition. Doctor Ziggy Switkowski made this clear in his comments to the 2019 Senate inquiry, saying “there is no social licence at this time.”

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

No decision yet on choosing USA or UK nuclear submarines, but a USA Bill to train Australian submariners!

Ed. note: But Australian nuclear zealot Jonathon Mead (left) and nuclear enthusiast Peter Dutton are on the job, in lockstep with the Americans.

Booster For AUKUS: US Could Train Australian Navy On Its Nuclear Subs While Canberra Decides Between US, UK Submarines

Eurasian Times, By Sakshi Tiwari, June 18, 2022 The Australian nuclear submarine project, assisted by the US and the UK under the AUKUS agreement, has faced several controversies. Recently, the former Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton made startling revelations about his government’s plan to buy American Virginia-class nuclear submarines.

Even though the claims enthused observers about a possible purchase by Australia, the officials have maintained that the decision has not been reached. Canberra is expected to choose between the US Virginia-class submarine or British Astute-class submarines.

In an all-new development, the US lawmakers have introduced a bill called ‘Australia-US Submarine Officer Pipeline Act’ to train Royal Australian Navy officers in the operation of nuclear submarines. The bill was moved into Congress even as doubts remain over the Virginia-class submarine purchase.

The ‘Australia-United States Submarine Officer Pipeline Act’ would allow Australian naval officers to begin training in the United States to operate and maintain nuclear-powered submarines before eventually commanding the future boats.

“The new bipartisan bill will establish a joint training pipeline between the US Navy and the Royal Australian Navy and enable the start of US-based training of Commanding Officers for Australia’s future fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS alliance,” the AUKUS working group said in a news release.

The bill requires the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy to begin a training exchange in 2023 and continue it in subsequent years. It is the result of Congress’ AUKUS working group, formed in April to help develop the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia’s new cooperation.

In November 2021, Australia inked a nuclear submarine technology-sharing deal with the United States and the United Kingdom as part of the AUKUS defense agreement. Australia is only the second country after the United Kingdom to secure a transfer of nuclear propulsion technology from the US.

Currently, the AUKUS partners are pursuing an 18-month study period to assess the requirements of Canberra’s nuclear submarine project, as previously reported by EurAsian Times. In September 2021, it abandoned a deal with the Naval Group of France for diesel-electric submarines and signed the AUKUS pact in favor of nuclear submarines.

Training Before Manufacturing

Nuclear-powered submarines are more expensive, but they are quieter and harder to detect, and they can stay submerged longer since they don’t need to surface to refuel.

With Australia, the US plans to begin training a cadre of young officers now to be ready to command the country’s submarines when the time comes, noted Defense News.

“The AUKUS alliance is the most important national security partnership that America has entered into in decades,” Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., said in a news release. “While [design] work is ongoing, it makes sense to open the US Navy’s nuclear training programs to Australia’s naval officers to acquire proficiency in the operation of nuclear submarines.”

The Chief of the Royal Australian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine task force, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, previously told The Strategist that Australians co-crewing with American and British submarines are likely to be part of an interim submarine capability.

“To train personnel,” Mead said, “We could embed sailors and officers in a US or UK boat to the point where we may have a 50% UK or US crew and a 50% Australian crew.”

When the first submarine is launched in South Australia, the goal is to have the crew trained, the industrial base ready to maintain it, and the regulatory system set up. “We have exchange officers on board our submarines and ships all the time.”

Mead also toured training schools in the United Kingdom and the United States to assess their systems. Many crew members receive reactor training and study nuclear physics concepts, but they are not nuclear physicists.

“‘They’ve been given a six-month course, and then they go to sea and become competent and current on their tradecraft at sea in a submarine,’ he explained.

“So we need to set up a system supported by the US and UK to provide our people with reactor training. If you’re an engineer, you may be a nuclear physicist. If you’re working at the front end of the boat, you require some knowledge of the reactor in case there’s an emergency, but not to the same level.”

The sentiment in Australia, [i.e in Jonathon Mead] thus, seems to align with American plans to start training Australian sailors and Naval officers. However, the exact nature and specifics of the training module are not yet known……………………….

Australia does not have sufficient nuclear infrastructure or advanced industrial capacity to build nuclear submarines. The shortcomings in nuclear infrastructure have had many experts suggest purchasing subs from the two AUKUS partners or building Australian submarines overseas.

Building nuclear-powered submarines would cost Australia billions of dollars and years of infrastructure construction. However, for the project to become a reality and for Australia’s crew to operate nuclear subs perfectly, training is one of the top priorities for AUKUS.

Even though Australia sells some nuclear fuel and has a single nuclear reactor for scientific study, the country does not have a substantial civil or military nuclear program. To get a head start, Australia could first start training on American or British nuclear submarines or lease older retired American submarines until they can deploy their indigenous designs, according to a National Interest report.

The Urgency For AUKUS

Australia’s nuclear submarines are expected to be operational no sooner than the end of the next decade. Consequently, the former Defense Minister Dutton had indicated that his government wanted to purchase two US submarines “this decade” to avoid a gap in replacing the country’s outdated Collins-class submarine fleet, with another eight US submarines under development in South Australia as part of the project.

This plan, he claims, would have eliminated the need to wait until 2038 for the first submarines designed in the United States to be built in Australia. The Royal Australian Navy currently operates six diesel-electric guided-missile submarines.

……………… While a decision regarding purchasing a nuke sub from the UK or the US hangs in the balance, training to use a nuclear submarine could be an easier way forward……..

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s Opposition Leader Dutton Says US Can Provide Two Nuclear Subs by 2030

Cartoon by Independent Australia’s MARK DAVID.

  • No confirmation of any such deal from US, despite claims
  • US, UK are ‘incredibly willing partners’: opposition leader
  • BySybilla Gross19 June 2022,   Australian opposition leader Peter Dutton reiterated his earlier claims that the US could provide Australia with two nuclear submarines by 2030, without providing material evidence that such a deal would occur. 
  • Speaking on the national broadcaster’s “Insiders” program Sunday, Dutton said he had visited counterparts in Connecticut and “spoken with them there” about acquiring the equipment, even though the proposition has attracted skepticism, given there’s been no indication from the US that it agreed to enter a sale. 
  • The US is “very keen to see the reality in the Indo-Pacific addressed and so I think that they would pull out every stop to support Australia acquiring the capability as quickly as possible,” he said.

Australia joined an Indo-Pacific security partnership with the U.S. and U.K. in September last year, allowing it to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. The move sparked a rift with France, which said the agreement scuppers an earlier deal Australia made in 2016 with a French shipbuilder to build up to 12 submarines.

Dutton, the former defense minister, wrote earlier this month that he believed it possible to acquire “the first two submarines off the production line out of Connecticut” this decade as an alternative to waiting until 2038 for domestic manufacturing to produce the first Australian-made submarine.

When asked on Sunday what information he had based his claims on, Dutton said, “I’m not going into conversations, but I formed a judgment that we could acquire two submarines quickly and I think it’s necessary that we do so.”  

The US and the UK are “incredibly willing partners,” he said.

The comments come as current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prepares to depart for Europe later this month to attend a NATO meeting to discuss the war in Ukraine. The trip may also involve a visit to Paris to see President Emmanuel Macron, after Albanese said earlier in June he was looking forward to accepting an invitation from the French leader and that it was “absolutely vital” to reset the relationship between the two countries. 

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia yet to sign up to treaty banning nuclear weapons but will attend UN meeting as observer

With nuclear weapons states modernising, and in some cases increasing their arsenals instead of dismantling them, more states are becoming disenchanted with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and are lending their support to an outright ban.

Australia yet to sign up to treaty banning nuclear weapons but will attend UN meeting as observer

 Anthony Albanese committed Labor to signing the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons while in opposition  Ben Doherty, Mon 20 Jun 2022 

Australia will attend – as an observer – a UN meeting of countries that have outlawed nuclear weapons, parties to a treaty Anthony Albanese championed in opposition and committed Labor to ratifying in government.

Government backbencher Susan Templeman’s attendance at the meeting in Vienna on Tuesday comes as a group of 55 former Australian ambassadors and high commissioners have written an open letter to the prime minister urging the government to sign up to the treaty, which outright prohibits the development, testing, production and use of nuclear weapons.

We hope … that Labor’s commitment to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will be swiftly realised. Making meaningful gains in eliminating the most destructive weapons ever invented is as crucial for Australia’s security as it is for the security of people everywhere,” said the letter, signed by the former diplomats including Stephen FitzGerald, John McCarthy, Neal Blewett and Natasha Stott Despoja.

The treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons (TPNW) came into force in January last year: it has been ratified by 62 states, though not by any nuclear weapons powers.

The former Coalition government consistently rejected the nuclear weapons ban treaty, saying it would not reduce nuclear arsenals or increase security and would undermine existing disarmament efforts.

But Anthony Albanese, now prime minister, has been a longstanding and public supporter of a Labor government signing and ratifying the new treaty.

At the 2018 ALP conference, he proposed the resolution that committed the party to sign and ratify the treaty in government.

“Nuclear disarmament is core business for any Labor government worth the name,” Albanese said. “Labor in government will sign and ratify the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

“I don’t argue that this is easy. I don’t argue that it’s simple. But I do argue that it’s just.”

The motion was passed, and the ALP’s formal party platform states: “Labor in government will sign and ratify the ban treaty”, contingent on ensuring an effective verification and enforcement architecture, and the ban treaty’s compatibility with the existing nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Templeman, the Labor member for Macquarie, will attend the UN meeting of states parties to the treaty as an observer only. Australia has neither signed nor ratified the TPNW: that position has not changed with the change of government.

The Guardian understands the new government wants to assess the adequacy of the TPNW’s verification and enforcement regime; its interaction with the treaty on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (that Australia is a party to); and how countries that have joined the new treaty intend to attract universal support for the outright ban.

The government will need to be satisfied on those questions before it decides to sign and ratify the treaty.

The Australian-founded International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its work on the TPNW, said the diplomats’ open letter “demonstrates the broad support for the treaty among Australia’s foreign policy establishment”.

“It was a mistake for the previous government to abstain from the negotiations on this crucial treaty,” Gem Romuld, Ican’s Australian director, said this week.

“But it isn’t too late to join – and we expect the new government to follow through with its promise to do so.”

The diplomats’ letter argued it is unacceptable that nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons remain in the world today, more than half a century after the nuclear non-proliferation treaty came into force.

“These weapons pose an existential threat to human life.

“That threat is again underlined now by Russia’s nuclear sabre-rattling over Ukraine and, more generally, by the abysmal state of relations between the United States and its two most powerful nuclear-armed rivals. Unless we chart a new course, nuclear weapons will almost certainly be used again, with predictably catastrophic consequences.”

The diplomats argued that, by becoming a state party to the ban treaty, Australia “can work with like-minded states to help avert such a calamity – and at the same time restore its reputation as a champion of multilateral disarmament”.

“In the course of our careers, we have seen first-hand what our country can achieve on the world stage and know that Australia is at its best when it pursues a principled foreign policy – one that advances the global common good. This is a sensible and overdue step. We urge you to take it without delay.”

The TPNW is international law – it came into effect for those states that have ratified it, in January 2021. But the efficacy of a ban treaty remains contested.

Without the participation of the states that actually possess nuclear weapons, critics argue it cannot succeed.

But proponents say a nuclear weapons ban will create moral suasion – in the vein of the cluster and landmine conventions – for nuclear weapons states to disarm, and establish an international norm prohibiting nuclear weapons’ development, possession and use.

Non-nuclear states have expressed increasing frustration with the current nuclear regime and the sclerotic movement towards disarmament.

With nuclear weapons states modernising, and in some cases increasing their arsenals instead of dismantling them, more states are becoming disenchanted with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and are lending their support to an outright ban.

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Could the Orca Autonomous Submarine Forever Change Nuclear War?

An Orca submarine hitting the waters in Huntington Beach, California in April 2022 has likely caused a ripple effect already across the world.

National Interest, by Akash Shah, 19 June 22,  The U.S. Navy has conducted the first in-water test of its Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV) “Orca,” marking a big step toward the future of naval warfare. The idea of an unmanned undersea vehicle in itself is not ground-breaking per se, but the sheer size, payload capacity, and artificial intelligence-driven autonomy are what make Orca-class a game-changer. The eighty-five-foot-long autonomous underwater system is purpose-built to carry out missions such as underwater surveillance and mine laying operations. The U.S Navy intends to enhance the role and capabilities of Orca-class submarines in the future which includes anti-surface, anti-submarine, and electronic warfare missions. An Orca submarine, capable of operating autonomously underwater for thirty days, hitting the waters in Huntington Beach, California in April 2022 has likely caused a ripple effect already across the world.

Although still in the early phase of operation, the possibilities platforms like Orca offer to militaries are likely to impact and reconfigure maritime warfare……………..It might be tempting for some countries to arm underwater platforms like Orca with nuclear warheads in the future………….   some psychological and technical constraints might not let the idea of autonomous unmanned nuclear submarines turn into a reality.

Just the idea of an AI-based robot submarine having the discretion to decide when to launch is absurd, to say nothing of all the things that could go wrong. I asked a high-ranking, retired Pakistani military official, who was closely associated with Pakistan’s nuclear program during his service, whether he sees any underwater autonomous platforms to be used in nuclear conflicts down the road. He instantly replied, “No! Nukes are too serious a business and would never be left at the whim of an AI platform, irrespective of whatever new technology emerges.”

Furthermore, AI systems are trained on huge caches of real-life data pertinent to the domain they are being trained for and actual data of a nuclear conflict is practically non-existent. The only nuclear raids at the end of World War II were not a conflict between two nuclear states and hence serve no purpose regarding second strikes. Based on these premises, it could be said with a higher degree of certainty that no rational international actor would combine a completely autonomous platform with the nuclear warheads. 

One of the crucial elements of a secure second-strike capability is an early warning of incoming nuclear missiles and launch platforms being communicated to strike back. However, communication with a submerged vessel is one of the most challenging aspects of underwater warfare. The stealth feature of a submarine is only viable if it is underwater as the probability of detection and interception increases when it is closer to the surface. This conundrum of communication while maintaining stealthiness is somewhat addressed by using the extremely low frequency of 3 Hz to 30 Hz.

However, in the case of autonomous unmanned submarines carrying nukes, one can never be sure if the transmitted message is conceived in time and in the manner it was intended. When compared with the potential for autonomous underwater platforms to enhance a country’s deterrence capabilities, the risk and cost, if things go wrong, are simply too high.

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Apprehension in Japan, about the idea of getting nuclear-powered submarines.

Kishida cautious about Japan acquiring nuclear-powered sub Nikkei Asia, June 19, 2022

Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito, echoed Kishida’s view, calling the idea of a nuclear-powered submarine “unrealistic.”

Ichiro Matsui, leader of the Japan Innovation Party, and Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the Democratic Party for the People, called for acquisition of a nuclear-powered submarine to boost deterrence and reconnaissance capacity……….

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s leader Kenta Izumi was against acquiring a nuclear-powered submarine, saying the country’s defenses “won’t get stronger simply because some deluxe equipment is added.”……………….

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A storm of unexpected problems swirls around France’s beleaguered nuclear fleet

Ed note: and that’s not counting the damaging effect that climate change’s heat wave is doing to the reactors’ cooling systems !!

French Nuclear Power Crisis Frustrates Europe’s Push to Quit Russian Energy. France typically exports electricity, but now it risks blackouts and a need for imported power because of problems at the state nuclear operator. Around half of France’s atomic fleet, the largest in Europe, has been taken offline as a storm of unexpected problems swirls around the nation’s state-backed nuclear power operator, Électricité de France, or EDF.

EDF, already 43 billion euros (about $45 billion) in debt, is also exposed to a recent deal involving the Russian state-backed nuclear power operator, Rosatom, that may heap fresh financial pain on the French company. The troubles have ballooned so quickly that President Emmanuel Macron’s government has hinted that EDF may need to be nationalized.

The few new nuclear reactors that EDF has built have been dogged by huge cost overruns and delays. An EDF-made pressurized water reactor at Hinkley Point, in southwest England, won’t start operating until 2027 — four years behind schedule and too late to help Britain’s swift turn from Russian oil and gas. Finland’s newest EDF nuclear power plant, which started operating last month, was supposed to be completed in 2009.

 New York Times 18th June 2022

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes” – exposes the lies about this nuclear disaster.

The new documentary “Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes,” premiering Wednesday
on HBO, exposes the shocking lies the Soviet government fed its citizens in
an effort to downplay the dangers of the Chernobyl explosion — even as
officials who knew better protected themselves. Among the recently
discovered and previously unseen footage is video originally shot to be
propaganda as the country scurried to downplay the severity of the event.

 New York Post 18th June 2022

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Burning planet: why are the world’s heatwaves getting more intense?

 Burning planet: why are the world’s heatwaves getting more intense? When
the temperature readings started to come through from Antarctic weather
stations in early March, scientists at first thought there might have been
some mistake.

At the north pole, similarly unusual temperatures were also
being recorded, astonishing for the time of year when the Arctic should be
slowly emerging from its winter deep freeze. The region was more than 3C
warmer than its long-term average, researchers said. To induce a heatwave
at one pole may be regarded as a warning; heatwaves at both poles at once
start to look a lot like climate catastrophe.

Since then, weather stations
around the world have seen their mercury rising like a global Mexican wave.
A heatwave struck India and Pakistan in March, bringing the highest
temperatures in that month since records began 122 years ago.

Scientists have been able quickly to prove that these record-breaking temperatures are
no natural occurrence. A study published last month showed that the south
Asian heatwave was made 30 times more likely to happen by human influence
on the climate. This type of heat poses a serious threat to human health,
directly as it puts stress on our bodies, and indirectly as it damages
crops, causes wildfires and even harms our built environment, such as roads
and buildings.

Poor people suffer most, as they are the ones out in fields
or in factories, or on the street without shelter in the midst of the heat,
and they lack the luxury of air-conditioning when they get home. Katharine
Hayhoe, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, told the Observer.
“If we continue with business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, there is
no adaptation that is possible. You just can’t.”

 Observer 18th June 2022

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment