Australian news, and some related international items

Richard Marles and Jonathan Mead babble on about nuclear submarines, (adding to the confusion).

Australia will have ‘unequivocal’ control over nuclear-powered submarines, insists chief adviser

‘When we take command of our first boat, we will have sovereign capability’, says Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead,

Daniel Hurst Guardian, 14 Feb 23,

The head of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine taskforce insists Australia will retain full operational control over the submarines, while potentially having US or British engineers on board to provide technical advice.

The comments follow renewed debate in recent weeks over whether the flagship project of the Aukus pact – which relies on support from the US and the UK – will lead to an erosion of Australian sovereignty.

The former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has been calling on the government to answer whether the submarines could be “operated, sustained and maintained by Australia without the support or supervision of the US navy”, and whether that effectively meant “sovereignty would be shared with the US”.

But the head of the taskforce advising the Australian government on the acquisition of at least eight submarines, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, used an interview with ABC TV on Monday evening to assert Australian control.

“When we take command of our first boat, we will have sovereign capability,” he told the 7.30 program.

“We will be commanding and controlling, under the Australian government direction, that nuclear-powered submarine.”…………………………….

Like the defence minister, Richard Marles, Mead expressed confidence that the plan to be announced soon would ensure there was no capability gap between the retirement of Australia’s existing Collins class diesel-electric submarines and the entry into service of nuclear-powered boats. But he did not provide specifics.

Mead also described the purpose of nuclear-powered submarines as being to “put the greatest question of doubt in the enemy’s mind” and “if necessary, respond with massive firepower”.

Marles used a speech to parliament last week to declare that acquiring nuclear-powered submarines would “dramatically enhance” Australia’s sovereignty, rather than undermine it………

Marles said Australia would “always make sovereign, independent decisions on how our capabilities are employed”.

In the wake of that speech, Turnbull tweeted that it was “quite a different thing to have a major platform that cannot be operated without the supervision/support of another country”

Turnbull said on Monday evening: “I think the question which has not been answered is: could the submarines be operated if US technical advice/support were withdrawn? The entire resources of the Australian news media have been unable to pin the government or the navy down on that.”

Paul Keating, the former Labor prime minister has previously raised concerns about increased reliance on US support and suggested Australia’s sovereignty was being “wilfully suborned”. 

February 13, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear zealot Jonathan Mead touts nuclear-powered submarines- Australia to have “full control” – (oh yeah?)

Australian commanders to have complete control over nuclear-powered submarines and reactors

ABC 7.30 / By Sarah Ferguson and James Elton, 13 Feb 23

Australian Navy commanders will have full operational control over their submarines and the powerful nuclear reactors onboard, despite the potential presence of US or UK engineers. 

Key points:

  • US or UK personnel may go to sea on Australian nuclear submarines
  • Australian technicians will understand “every detail” of how the reactors work
  • Construction in Adelaide shipyards may begin by end of 2020s

Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, chief of the AUKUS submarine taskforce, has rejected criticisms that the nuclear propulsion program, based on US technology, would undermine Australian sovereignty. 

“When we take command of our first boat, we will have sovereign capability,” he told 7.30‘s Sarah Ferguson in an exclusive interview. 

Details of extensive plans to build a fleet of eight boats powered with weapons-grade uranium will be revealed next month. 

Vice Admiral Mead was asked what would happen onboard in the event of any dispute over the nuclear reactor, including following an accident, between a US or UK engineer and the boat’s Australian commander.

“We would expect anyone, be it a foreign engineer or an Australian engineer, to provide advice,” he said. 

But the commanding officer of that submarine, the Australian, would have “command and control over the reactor, over the submarine – unequivocal”. 

Australians will understand ‘every detail’ of welded-shut nuclear reactors

The defining feature of the submarine deal is that the highly enriched uranium reactors that power the boats will be supplied by either the US or UK, and “welded shut”.

The use of weapons-grade fuel means the reactors do not need to be opened for refuelling over the 30-plus-year life of the boat. Reactors that run on low-enriched uranium, like those used by the French and Chinese navies, do require refuelling. 

This also means Australia will not need to manufacture nuclear fuel – one of the commitments the country has made to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Vice Admiral Mead said Australia would, however, be sending people to US “design facilities” so we would understand “every element of detail of that reactor”. 

No Australian reactors … for now 

Asked if Australia is considering building its own nuclear reactors in the future, Vice Admiral Mead said: “We are not envisioning that at the moment, we haven’t gone into that at the moment.” 

The senior Navy official has spoken previously about the need for the AUKUS program to have public support. 

Asked what would happen to an Australian nuclear-propelled submarine that was hit by a missile, Vice Admiral Mead said he could not reveal the technical details but that “nuclear-powered submarines are designed for exacting standards”.

He also said that submariners receive only minimal doses of radiation onboard – less than an ordinary person walking the streets of a capital city.

UK or US-designed boat, and when will we see them?

Addressing the scale of the program, Vice Admiral Mead said if Australia wanted to begin construction of new boats in Adelaide “towards the end of this decade” the government would need to quickly finalise the construction of a revamped shipyard. 

He also described the extraordinary staffing requirements of the project, requiring nuclear physicists, chemists and engineers, as well as specialist tradesmen. 

One of the biggest questions around AUKUS is whether Australia would be left without a functioning submarine force before the new boats are launched, as the ageing Collins fleet approaches retirement.

Vice Admiral Mead said unequivocally there would be no gap, but would not be drawn on the Navy’s specific plans.

The UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, recently suggested a new submarine design the three countries could share was under consideration. 

Asked whether that strategy would further delay the delivery of new submarines, Vice Admiral Mead reaffirmed there would be no gap in Australia’s capability. 

China is the motivation

Vice Admiral Mead said rapid changes in the Indo Pacific had sharpened strategic competition.

“We’ve also seen in recent years a significant modernisation in the Chinese military, particularly the Navy,” he said.

Australia’s current fleet of Collins class submarines run on diesel-electric engines that are extremely quiet when running off the battery. 

Nuclear submarines have massive range and the stealth advantage of not needing to resurface, but they do have reactor components that can’t be easily switched off to “go quiet”. 

The pros and cons of nuclear and conventional submarines have led defence analysts to suggest a new generation of diesel submarines should be considered as well, particularly to operate closer to the Australian coastline – while the nuclear boats could be prioritised for operations further away from the mainland.

But Vice Admiral Mead said the nuclear submarines would be a good option in both theatres.

“Nuclear-powered submarines provide a capability to deploy away from the home shore, or to deploy close to home shore,” he said. 

Pressed on whether conventional submarines would be quieter for closer operations, Vice Admiral Mead said under some circumstances nuclear submarines could be “just as quiet”. 

“It’s often more to do with the age and the technology of the submarine that we are dealing with,” he said.

Vice Admiral Mead said the purpose of nuclear-powered submarines was to “put the greatest question of doubt in the enemy’s mind” and “if necessary, respond with massive firepower”. 

This type of game-changing capability, he said, would change Australia’s “strategic personality”.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Distinct lack of enthusiasm for nuclear power!

“I don’t think the community has any real desire to have nuclear power, I just don’t think it is going to happen.”

Nuclear power debate looms


Barker MP Tony Pasin said he was in support of the investigation to understand current, viable options.

Mr Pasin said nuclear energy was a “mature, proven technology that has the possibility to provide reliable, emissions-free, base-load electricity and it is high time we had an informed debate on its benefits.

“We need to look into what are the viable options right now, and what are the most viable options for affordable, stable electricity.”

He add: “We should do the due diligence that is necessary to decide what is the best option going forward. All I want to do is ensure that whatever decision we make for the long-term future of our economy and generations is that the decision is grounded in science.”

Limestone Coast Protection Alliance chairman Angus Ralton said instead of nuclear power, wind farms and solar would be more efficient.

“Nuclear can take around 10 years to build a reactor. Even small ones take a long time and we don’t have the framework to be allowed to build them,” Mr Ralton said.

“The reactors are also notorious for blowing out, whereas with wind and solar it can take one-to-three years for a large-scale project to be rolled out.”

He said other issues, such as costs to build nuclear and waste disposal, should also be considered.

“Building nuclear power is hideously expensive and I don’t see the point in exploring something new when we already have wind and solar power here,” Mr Ralton said.

“I don’t think the community has any real desire to have nuclear power, I just don’t think it is going to happen.”

February 13, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Ballooning paranoia: The China threat hits the skies

Thankfully, one or two sober notes of reflection have prevailed, even from within the military-intelligence fraternity. The Center for Strategic and International Studies has issued a few self-evident truths.  ‘Balloons are not an ideal platform for spying,’ writes James Andrew Lewis, ‘they are big and hard to hide.  They go where the winds take them’.  Such instruments ‘would be a strange choice for a technologically advanced and sophisticated opponent’.

Independent Australia, By Binoy Kampmark | 13 February 2023

Hysteria over balloons is a strange thing, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark.

HOT AIR balloons first appeared during the Napoleonic era, where they served as delivery weapons for bombs and undertook surveillance tasks. High-altitude balloons were also used by, of all powers, the United States during the 1950s, for reasons of gathering intelligence, though these were shot down by the irritated Soviets. 

On 28 January, a device reported to be a “high-altitude surveillance balloon” entered U.S. airspace in Alaska. It then had a brief spell in Canadian airspace before returning to the U.S. via Idaho on 31 January. 

On 4 February, with the balloon moving off the coast of South Carolina, a decision was made by the U.S. military to shoot it down using an F-22 Raptor from the First Fighter Wing based at Langley Air Force Base.  The Pentagon has revealed that the collection of debris is underway.

In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a stern note of disapproval, protesting:

‘The US attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force.’

This was ‘a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice’. Beijing also issued a note of apology, regretting ‘the unintended entry of the ship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure’.

A U.S. State Department official, while noting the statement of regret, felt compelled to designate:

‘The presence of this balloon in our airspace [as] a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law.’

Rumours of a second Chinese balloon flying across Latin America were also confirmed by a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry on 6 February, who described it as being “of a civilian nature and is used for flight tests”.The instrument had been impaired by weather in its direction, having “limited self-control capabilities”.

The Pentagon’s press secretary, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, also confirmed the existence of the second balloon, reaching the predictably opposite conclusion to his Chinese counterparts:

“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon.”

This overegged saga has seen much airtime and column space dedicated to those in the pay of the military-defence complex. Little thought was given to the purpose of such a seemingly crude way of collecting military intelligence. Timothy Heath of the Rand Corporation went so far as to extol the merits of such cheeky devices. For one thing, they were hard to detect, making them somehow reliable.

General Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, made reference to a number of Chinese spy balloons that supposedly operated with impunity during the Trump Administration. “I will tell you that we did not detect those threats,” he said. This had resulted in a “domain awareness gap that we have to figure out”. 

The begging bowl for even larger defence budgets is being pushed around the corridors of power.

Lawyers of international law have also had their say, reaching for their manuals, and shaking their heads gravely. Donald Rothwell of the Australian National University thought that:

‘The incursion of the Chinese balloon tested the boundaries of international law.’  

Thankfully, one or two sober notes of reflection have prevailed, even from within the military-intelligence fraternity. The Center for Strategic and International Studies has issued a few self-evident truths.  ‘Balloons are not an ideal platform for spying,’ writes James Andrew Lewis, ‘they are big and hard to hide.  They go where the winds take them’.  Such instruments ‘would be a strange choice for a technologically advanced and sophisticated opponent’.……………………………..

The Chinese explanation has been scoffed at and derisively dismissed. Yet balloons are an almost quotidian feature of scientific and meteorological work, whatever the official explanation offered by Beijing might be. NASA’s own Scientific Balloon Program, for instance, has been most engaged of late. 

The organisation was keen to tout its fall 2022 campaign involving six scientific, engineering and student balloon flights in support of 17 missions.

The scale of any one mission be sizeable. ‘Our balloon platforms’, came the description from NASA’s Scientific Balloon chief Debbie Fairbrother, ‘can lift several thousand pounds to the edge of space, allowing for multiple, various scientific instruments, technologies, and education payloads to fly together in one balloon flight’.

The disproportionate nature of Washington’s reaction to Beijing over such balloons also looks rather odd in the face of the vast surveillance technologies it deploys against adversaries and friends. 

But politics is not merely the art of the possible but an opportunity for the absurd to find form and voice.  On this score, the mouse has clearly terrified the elephant.,17230

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian and world news this week

A bit of good news. Good news about global warming: The public’s paying attention.

. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Weekly Epidemiological Update


Climate change is triggering more earthquakes. Big Oil’s interests are a factor.

Nuclear. Insanity rules?  America going gaga about a balloon. Turkey pressing on with nuclear reactor build – all too handy to the earthquake zone.   Australia looking forward to its war against China. Ukraine thinking it would be nice to bomb Crimea – and that’s OK with the Yanks.  

Christina notes. Hooray – Australia’s cultural cringe is over! We’re gonna be important, like Ukraine! The evil of the nuclear industry – France to transfer public interest savings funds to the nuclear industry?



CLIMATE. Ann Darling: Nuclear power is no answer to anything our ailing planet needs. France in new row with Germany and Spain.   Leak: France wins recognition for nuclear in EU’s green hydrogen rules.      France wants to call nuclear-derived hydrogen “clean”. When the Great Tide returns. Twice as Much Land in Developing Nations Will be Swamped by Rising Seas than Previously Projected, New Research Shows.

CIVIL LIBERTIES. Night carnival in London calls for Julian Assange’s release    Ukraine purges libraries of Russian-language books – official.

ECONOMICS. Poland might have tax-payer fund its ambitious nuclear plans, and hope that investors might come in later. Marketing: Russia marketing nuclear reactors to MyanmarCameco Agrees to New Deal With Ukraine’s Nuclear Energy Utility.

EMPLOYMENTYoung people want to work in genuinely clean industries.

ENERGYRenewables In China Trend Upward While Nuclear Trends Flat. US announces first transfer of seized Russian assets to KievSolar’s stunning journey from lab curiosity to global juggernaut wiping out fossil fuels.

ENVIRONMENT. Campaigners claim permit change at Hinkley Point would kill billions of fish. Fear for fish: EDF plan for Hinkley project means ‘enormous tragedy’ for ecosystem. Japan Plans to Dump Fukushima Wastewater Into a Pacific With a Toxic Nuclear History.

HEALTHHealth status of the population living in the zone of influence of radioactive waste repositories . Radioactive releases from the nuclear power sector and implications for child health. ‘Downwind’: How Did America Create Its Own Nuclear Disaster?

HUMAN RIGHTSEmerging Environmental Justice Issues in Nuclear Power and Radioactive Contamination.

LEGALNeo-Nazi previously implicated in plot to attack nuclear plants now arrested for planning grid sabotage around Baltimore. U.S. Court of Appeals rejects New Mexico’s challenge to Nuclear Waste License . Greenpeace will sue the European Commission over its decision to include gas and nuclear as “clean”. Outline of Greenpeace’s legal arguments against including gas and nuclear in the EU Taxonomy.

MEDIAMedia ‘Spy Balloon’ Obsession a Gift to China Hawks.

OPPOSITION to NUCLEARHighlands Against Nuclear Power (HANP).


POLITICS INTERNATIONAL and DIPLOMACY. Setting the Record Straight; Stuff You Should Know About Ukraine. Ballooning paranoia: The China threat hits the skies.   The United States and China Still Need to Talk About Nuclear Weapons.   China’s spy balloon can help deflate US nuclear tensions with Beijing.     
The US Department of Energy has made it

 easier to share nuclear information with Mexico and harder to do so for Colombia and Egypt.  EU’s Top Diplomat Says 

Iranian Deal Is Only Way to Stop Tehran’s Nuclear Program.

PROTESTSNo to US nukes in Britain: CND is returning to Lakenheath, 20 May 2023!

SAFETY. French minister confirms plans to extend nuclear lifetimesContinuing with Akkuyu nuclear plant in seismic Turkey would be reckless. Fears of ‘catastrophic’ nuclear horror as Turkey’s reactor rocked by horror earthquake. Japan: Cabinet adopts policy of using nuclear reactors beyond 60-year limitIncident. That time Northern California had a near nuclear accident.

SECRETS and LIESIllegal organ market is a lucrative business in war-torn Ukraine.

SPINBUSTERHigh-altitude surveillance — even balloons — is nothing new. So why the fuss?

SPACE. EXPLORATION, WEAPONS. Another sign of madness? – thermonuclear propulsion technology to power a rocket to Mars. 

WAR and CONFLICTWe’ve Never Been Closer to Nuclear Catastrophe—Who Gains by Ignoring It?Endgame is going on in Ukraine crisisUS defense official flags ‘no objections’ to Kiev attacking Crimea.Here’s eight reasons why the US has no interest in pushing for peace in Ukraine. Did Volodymyr Zelensky call for ‘preventive nuclear strikes’ against Russia? Not exactly. US role in Kiev’s artillery warfare identified – media. 

CNN video: NATO rehearses war with Russia in neighboring Estonia Dr. Helen Caldicott Says The World Is Closer To Nuclear Annihilation Than Ever Before. Would YOUR neighborhood be targeted in a nuclear attack? Official map shows the 2,000 locations across the US most at risk

WEAPONS and WEAPONS SALESRussia closes down the world’s largest nuclear-powered strategic submarine (they don’t say where the radioactive wastes go). U.S. Test Launches ICBM Into Pacific as Part of Nuclear ‘Deterrence Mission’ If Arms Control Collapses, US and Russian Strategic Nuclear Arsenals Could Double In Size

New Report Unpacks Dangers of Emerging Military Tech, From AI Nukes to Killer Robots. US takes another step toward gearing up nuclear plutonium weapons core factory. Much-hyped tanks for Ukraine are in short supply. Elon Musk’s SpaceX Cuts Support for Ukrainian Military but continues work for U.S. military. North Korea shows off largest-ever number of nuclear missiles at anniversary parade. Three years without one single on-site US nuclear weapons inspection at base for Northern Fleet ballistic missile submarines.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment