Australian news, and some related international items

This week, in Australian and other nuclear news

A bit of good newsQuitea shortage of good news this week. I’m reduced to falling back on stories of individual goodness. Well, why not?  Individuals in their millions are doing kind things every day – that just doesn’t get into the news media. The Top 10 Acts of Kindness in 2022 Warmed Our Hearts and Restored Our Faith in Strangers and Neighbors.

Coronavirus.  Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19

Climate.  Climate change could cause ‘disaster’ in the world’s oceans.

Nuclear. Not much happening, except hype for small nuclear reactors. Australia’s nuclear submarines project is beginning to sound less like a goer, and more like something of a 171$billion ego-trip by former PM Scott Morrison, in a bid to look important on the world stage

Christina’s notes: They’re at it again! The nuclear industry dazzles journalists with its newest hogwash – “inflection point”.         Corporate media focusses on ‘new’ nuclear solutions. Are they stupid? Or is it just what they’re paid to write?



CIVIL LIBERTIES. Guilty of Journalism. Key US Allies Collaborate On Espionage Laws Considered Harmful To Whistleblowers And Journalists.

CLIMATE.  Coal 2 Nuclear: From the fossil fuel frying pan into the fission fire.   Under present conditions, a huge loss of the planet’s glaciers will happen in the next 30 years. Writers protest against UK’s imprisonment of climate activists


ENERGY. Analysis Shows U.S. Wind and Solar Could Outpace Coal and Nuclear Power in 2023.    European Energy Crisis: France Close to Electricity Rationing Over Problems with Local Nuclear Plants.  The Future Remains Uncertain For Nuclear Energy.   Nuclear is not the answer to the UK’s energy requirements, and honesty about Sizewell is needed.  Solar power innovation by two British local councils. Great Britain produced a record amount of wind-powered electricity in 2022. 

ENVIRONMENT. Namibia orders Russian uranium exploration to stop due to environmental concerns.

HEALTHElectromagnetic radiation – cellphones as a health hazard.  Ionising radiation. Return to studying baby teeth for radioactivity from nuclear weapons and nuclear facilities.

HISTORYIt’s all about the bomb: why civilian nuclear power is merely a cover for producing more nuclear weapons. Why Did Portland General Electric Want to Build Trojan Nuclear Plant in the First Place?

LEGAL. John LaForge Set to Be First US Activist Jailed in Germany for Anti-Nuke ProtestsTake Japan to court for nuclear water dumping.

MEDIAUnder Musk, Twitter Continues to Promote US Propaganda Networks. Zelensky Expands Crackdown on Ukrainian Media. Media Silent as Latest Twitter Files Expose Flagrant Misconduct in Govt. & Journalism.


PERSONAL STORIES.Beatrice Fihn – a decade fighting to ban nuclear weapons. This man saved the world from nuclear war. His story is a heart-pumper.

POLITICSGerman minister reignites coalition row with call to review nuclear exit.

POLITICS INTERNATIONAL and DIPLOMACYUS and South Korea hold talks on “nuclear sharingSouth Korea asks US for greater role in managing nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons and the resistance to reality.  U.S. President Biden contradicts South Korea’s President‘s claim that the two countries are planning joint nuclear exercises.   

 Pakistan supplies India with a list of its nuclear facilities.  US Says ‘All Options’ On Table As Iran Nuclear Talks Remain Deadlocked.



SPINBUSTERCountering nuclear industry propaganda by telling the facts – Joshua Frank’s book “Atomic Days”.      Workington under siege from new nuclear plans.


WAR and CONFLICTBefore the Bombs Come the Platitudes. Cold War estimates of deaths in nuclear conflict. A Secret War in the Making: Americans Should Not Die to Defend Taiwan

Number of civilians killed in Donbass revealed. Ukraine – The Big Push To End The War. CODEPINK calls on Zelensky, Biden and Congress to seize this chance for peace in Ukraine. Donetsk shelled in first minute of Christmas truce .  Los Alamos National Laboratory’s record $4.6B budget will still mostly fund nuclear weapons. 

Pentagon pressures NATO allies to boost arms flow to Ukraine. Defensive and offensive operations: “tank-killers” part of new U.S. $45b arms package to Ukraine

North Korea to have “exponential increase” in its nuclear arsenal. Raytheon sells long-range missiles to Romania for war in Black Sea 

January 9, 2023 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Guilty of Journalism

The Political Prosecution of Julian Assange

by Kevin Gosztola 7 Jan 23

From an acclaimed independent journalist, this carefully-documented analysis of the government’s case against Julian Assange and its implications for press freedom acts as a crucial, compelling guidebook to Assange’s upcoming trial.

The legal action against Julian Assange is poised to culminate in a trial in the United States in 2023, and this book will help the public understand the proceedings. The establishment media’s coverage of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition case has focused on his deteriorating health and what CBS News called his “secret family,” but most of this coverage failed to detail the complex issues at stake against Assange.

Guilty of Journalism outlines how WikiLeaks exposed the reality of American wars, the United States government’s unprecedented indictment against Assange as a publisher, and the media’s role in persuading the public to “shoot the messenger.” This new book by Kevin Gosztola, who has spent the last decade covering Assange, WikiLeaks, and the wider war on whistleblowers, tells the full story based on testimony from dozens of witnesses.

It examines abuses of power by the CIA and the FBI, including a spying operation that targeted Assange’s family, lawyers, and doctors. Guilty of Journalism offers a balanced and comprehensive perspective on all the events leading up to what press freedom advocates have called the trial of the century.

January 9, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Australia’s contribution to AUKUS should be a next generation conventional submarine

By Kym Bergmann, 08/01/2023

Sherlock Holmes teaches us that when all possible explanations have been eliminated, the only remaining answer – no matter how improbable – must be correct.  As prospects are diminishing that Australia will be able to receive a nuclear-powered submarine before the 2050s, policy makers are faced with two choices: do nothing, or fast track something that will add significantly to the undersea warfare capabilities of the three AUKUS partners.

The latest development is that two US Senators – one serving and one just retired – Democratic Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Jack Reed and his Republican predecessor Senator James Inhofe, have warned that the US does not have the capacity to build submarines for Australia.  Previously, Australian officials have dismissed any negative commentary about the nuclear submarine plan as “noise”, but this is getting hard to ignore.

Maybe the report by the nuclear-powered submarine task force due in March will prove the critics wrong, but unless it comes up with a concrete schedule with dates, legally enforceable commitments and so on, Australia needs to have a Plan B.  A document that emphasises intentions, good will, more discussions, dialog, harmonising requirements, committees, and further investigations gets us nowhere.

Even the most vocal critics of conventional submarine technology concede that they nevertheless retain some performance advantages, such as in complex, shallow water littoral environments.  They are also comparatively cheaper to build and – depending on their size and complexity – a nation can acquire at least three conventional submarines for every nuclear-powered boat.

A new generation fleet of Australian conventional submarines could see some of them permanently based in Guam – or even Japan – making an important contribution to USN-led coalition operations in areas such as the South China Sea.  Some could also travel to the UK, though what contribution they could make to joint security from there is unclear, but the gesture might be politically worthwhile.

A commitment to actually doing something to help ourselves would also go over well in Washington.  US figures are reportedly surprised and disappointed at the supine position of Australia, which seems to believe a solution for our defence needs will be handed to us on a platter.  Why should Australia expect the US to solve our submarine problems for us?  First and foremost, this a challenge to be met by the sovereign Australian government and not offshore it like some sort of strategic help line.

The quickest solution for Australia would be to forget about the Collins Life of Type Extension due to start in 2026 and fast track the local construction of the South Korean KSS-III Batch 2 design – now owned by Hanwha – which could see boats in the water from 2030.  These are long-range conventional submarines that achieve a very low indiscretion rate by using lithium-ion batteries and other advanced technologies that were never part of the cancelled Attack class program.  Their endurance could be further expanded by building a resupply base on Christmas Island – surrounded by deep water and easy to protect – that would give them an extra 25% time on station.

Another option would be a Next Generation Collins class – a larger version of the Swedish A26 submarine, similar to the one favoured to be chosen by the Netherlands to meet their need for a long-range oceanic submarine.  A Third Generation Collins in the 2050s could be nuclear-powered, with the involvement of both the US and the UK.  That’s called long term planning and is probably closer to the spirit of AUKUS because it would contribute to sovereign capability.

For all the boosters of nuclear-powered submarines, we say this: unless Australia has a highly skilled construction base, we will be condemned to forever seeking to buy them from the US or the UK – and, as we are witnessing, the chances of that ever happening are receding.  As those two nations learned from the Sea Wolf and Astute programs, without a continuous submarine construction program, the loss of skills can be catastrophic.

The only sure way to guarantee that Australia will be able to build nuclear powered submarines – other than the reactors themselves – is to be able to transition from building large, advanced conventional submarines to something with a different propulsion system. Put simply: those arguing that an interim submarine is too inconvenient are condemning to death the idea of the local build of a nuclear-powered boat.  We will need a skilled, experienced, existing workforce, existing program management and existing local supply chains.

The only sure way to guarantee that Australia will be able to build nuclear powered submarines – other than the reactors themselves – is to be able to transition from building large, advanced conventional submarines to something with a different propulsion system. Put simply: those arguing that an interim submarine is too inconvenient are condemning to death the idea of the local build of a nuclear-powered boat.  We will need a skilled, experienced, existing workforce, existing program management and existing local supply chains.

January 9, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Dear US Congress, thank you for saving Australia from itself

by Rex Patrick | Jan 7, 2023

Is “bad news” out of US Congress about an AUKUS nuclear submarine deal a blessing in disguise? Former submariner and senator Rex Patrick says US politicians, though acting in the interests of the US, may save Australia from itself, and $170 billion too. 

We are concerned that what was initially touted as a ‘do no harm’ opportunity to support Australia and the United Kingdom and build long-term competitive advantages for the US and its Pacific allies, may be turning into a zero-sum game for scarce, highly advanced U. SSNs,” wrote the Democrat and Republican heads of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Over the past year, we have grown more concerned about the state of the US submarine industrial base as well as its ability to support the desired AUKUS SSN [Nuclear Submarine] end state”.

“We believe current conditions require a sober assessment of the facts to avoid stressing the US submarine industrial base to the breaking point.”

These two Senators have nailed it. 

Scotty’s greatest marketing moment

The AUKUS submarine was a ‘brain fart’ of Prime Minister Scott Morrison who was facing disquiet within the Liberal Party ranks (I know; as a Senator and submariner, they were raising the issue with me) over the French designed Attack Class replacement submarine program.

It was an idea supported by a Defence Department which had, in the 12 years since the future submarine project had been initiated, spent five billion taxpayer dollars delivering no submarine, and more than $8.5 billon on other failed projects.

On the morning of September 16, 2021, Morrison stood up in a stage-managed announcement staring US President Biden, then UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Morrison. Apart from the fact that President Biden didn’t know Morrison’s name, it was Morrison’s greatest ‘Scotty from Marketing’ moment.

While waving a big and distracting nuclear submarine hand to the camera, his other hand was behind his back silently putting a death to the French submarine program, something that would very shortly after cause a diplomatic rift between Australia and France.

Then opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, was given a briefing on AUKUS and the new submarine plans just 24 hours prior to the announcement. In the face of the oncoming election, Albanese made the political call to give the announcement Labor’s full support. Indeed, pursuing a ‘small target’ political strategy, Labor was embarrassingly desperate to avoid a fight about national security.

Not good for Australia

It was only after the dust had settled that the right questions started to be asked; simple questions like how much, when and where?

The cost soon emerged. The French submarine program has taken an expensive $50 billion submarine program and blown out to an unaffordable $90 billion. The AUKUS submarine was to invoke a cost ‘chain reaction’, coming in at a bankrupting $170 billion. We were jumping out of the financial frying pan and into the fire.

2040 what?

The commissioning date soon emerged. 2040! Noting the rationale for the switch from a French to an AUKUS program was the rising geo-political tension in our regions, the AUKUS submarine was to be delivered even later that the French solution. In an environment where Defence itself had warned our defence procurement warning time had been reduced to less than 10 year, it made no sense to embark on a program that delivers a first capability in 20 years.

Then the build discussions started. The nuclear submarine was not to be built in Australia, rather the US. We were going to sell out Australia industry, and in particular our hard-won competent submarine sustainment industry. We were going simply export $170B, most of the jobs and a sovereign capability the taxpayer had spent billions developing.

Not good for the US either

And the US Congress is now coming to the realisation that the AUKUS program will not be good for the US either. 

Supporting Australia’s submarine program will put even more pressure on the US submarine industry trying to build 12 new Columbia Class ballistic missile submarines and meet the demands of supplying the US Navy with its own Virginia Class submarines. 

This is not surprising. The US Congressional Research Service has been issuing reports for the better part of a decade that highlight the growing pressures on and limited capacity of the two American submarine construction facilities. The industrial capacity problem is already acute. 

The old Los Angeles Class submarines are retiring faster that the Virginias can be brought online.

Now the Senate Armed Services Committee has finally realised what would be involved in supporting the AUKUS submarine.

Please help pal!

Not having built or operated nuclear submarines before, and as the only country in the world that would be operating nuclear submarines without an established nuclear power industry, Australia’s dependency on the US would be significant. Training, shipbuilding, operating and maintaining a nuclear submarine, nuclear safety … we would need a lot of help with all of it.

We are talking about nuclear reactors. The US can’t half commit to this. AUKUS nuclear submarines will be a considerable distraction to the entire US submarine enterprise at a time when they don’t need distraction.

But the public concerns of the senators only tell half the story.

China conflict looms, before the subs arrive

Conflict between the US and China is more likely to occur in the next decade, than in the 2040’s when a first AUKUS nuclear submarine would be fully operational.

A decision by the US to support an AUKUS nuclear submarine would be a decision resigning their close Asia-Pacific ally to the operating of ageing Collins class submarines in the very period a high-end submarine partnering capability was needed most.

Stupid and stupider, but political momentum

The whole AUKUS nuclear submarine thing has a political momentum about it which will bring about national security downsides for both countries. 

As indicated above, the Labor Party leadership signed up to this massive project on 24 hours’ notice and little information. Now, completely captured by the ‘Department of Largely Failed Procurement and No Accountability’, Albanese, Defence Minister Richard Marles and Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy have been supplied with a full barrel of naval Kool Aide, and they’re chugging it down.

Cold hard analysis, such as that being conducted by the US Congress, might be the only thing that saves Australia from itself.

January 9, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment