Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

TODAY. Wouldn’t it be sane, if Australia just cancelled this absurd nuclear submarine mess?

Why do I call it a mess? Let me count the ways:

  1. Australia does not need nuclear submarines. They’re suitable for the USA to make long distance attacks on China, but not suitable for Australia’s need – which is to monitor our coastline.
  2. They will be obsolete before they’re able to be operational.
  3. They are an absurd expense $171 billion and upwards, depriving Australia’s regular military of needed funds, and adding to Australia’s economic woes, and national debt
  4. They are to be fuelled by Highly Enriched Uranium, meaning that regional and global nuclear proliferation norms are overturned, causing tensions and problems with Australia’s near neighbours . Not only New Zealand, but also several South East Asian and South Pacific States are members of nuclear-free zone treaties.
  5. The  decision on the nuclear submarines was made with no real debate in Parliament . On the only occasion when Australians were able to give their views on this issue to the parliament’s treaties committee, more than 100 submissions were made, even though only five days’ notice was given for these to be received. These submissions were overwhelmingly against the proposal.
  6. There has been little or no discussion on the toxic wastes from the nuclear submarines, nor on the final disposal of the submarines themselves – there seems to be no plan for this, nor on other safety aspects.
  7. It is clear, to the point of mirth, that the uK and UK are competing with each other to market the subs to Australia.
  8. The process of deciding on the subs is full of conflicts of interest and corruption
  9. The subs are now being “sold” to the Australian public on the premise of “jobs, jobs jobs” – when it’s likely that the bulk of jobs, especially high career ones, will go to USA or UK workers
  10. The Australian public is being fed a media barrage of enthusiasm for the subs, with rare mention of any downsides.

I am utterly fed up with Australia’s political leaders –    quite a nauseating spectacle on ABC TV news tonight, with Defence Minister Richard Marles fawning all over that dreadful previous PM Morrison, and the warmongering Liberal leader Peter Dutton.

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

Australian Media Are Outright Telling Us They Are Feeding Us War Propaganda About China

Caitlin’s Newsletter, 8 March 23

The mass media in Australia have been churning out brazen propaganda pieces to manufacture consent for war with China, and what’s interesting is that they’re basically admitting to doing this deliberately.

Australians are uniquely susceptible to propaganda because we have the most concentrated media ownership in the western world, dominated by a powerful duopoly of Nine Entertainment and the Murdoch-owned News Corp. Both of those media megacorporations have recently put out appalling propaganda pieces about the need for Australians to rapidly prepare to go to war with China in defense of Taiwan, and in both of those instances have straightforwardly told their audiences that there’s an urgent need to effect a psychological change in the way all Australians think about this war.

Nine Entertainment’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have been busy flooding the media with testimony from a panel of war machine-funded “experts” who say Australia must hasten to get ready to join the United States in a hot war with China in the next three years. Yesterday’s dual front-page propaganda assault featured imagery of Chinese war planes flying straight at the reader, awash in red and emblazoned with the words “RED ALERT” to help everyone understand how evil and communist China is.

“Today’s Sydney Morning Herald and Age front-page stories on Australia’s supposed war risk with China represents the most egregious and provocative news presentation of any newspaper I have witnessed in over 50 years of active public life,” former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating opined in response to the publications.

“Apart from the outrageous illustrations of jet aircraft being shown leaving a profiled red-coloured map of China, the extent of the bias and news abuse is, I believe, unparalleled in modern Australian journalism,” he added.

In the first installment of their “Red Alert” propaganda series, SMH and The Age share that their empire-funded panelists believe there’s a need to bring about a “psychological shift” in the public’s attitude toward war with China, with one panelist asserting that “the nation’s leaders should trust the public enough to include them in what can be a confronting discussion” about the need to prepare for that war.

In the second “Red Alert” installment, this same message is repeated, saying that “Australia’s vulnerabilities are not only physical, but psychological,” and again repeating the need to get everyone talking and thinking about the possibility of war with China.

“It is a real national taboo to think about the likelihood of a conflict in anything other than the most remotely theoretical perspective,” says Peter Jennings of the war machine-funded propaganda firm Australian Strategic Policy Institute, countering that “we will sleepwalk into disaster unless we openly discuss unpalatable scenarios.”

Saying that the real threat is “complacency rather than alarmism,” think tanker Lavina Lee urges Australia to confront “the possibility that we might go to war and what would happen either way. We should talk about what the world would look like if we win and what it would look like if we lose.”

Over and over again they are telling us that something must be done to change the way Australians think and talk about a war with China, in articles designed to change the way Australians think and talk about war with China. They are doing the exact thing they say must be done, while explaining why it needs to be done. They are brainwashing us with propaganda while explaining why it is necessary to brainwash us with propaganda.

Last month Murdoch’s Sky News Australia released an astonishingly propagandistic hour-long special titled “China’s aggression could start new world war,” which in its attempts to show “China’s aggression” hilariously flashed a graphic of all the US military operations currently encircling China. The segment features footage of bayonet-wielding Chinese forces overdubbed with ominous cinematic Bad Guy music, and in Sky News’ promotions for the special all the footage from China was tinged red to help viewers understand how evil and communist China is.

Toward the end of the special, Sky News’ empire-backed “experts” tell their audience that Australia needs to double its military spending, and that those in power need to explain to them why this is so important…………………………………….

Again, they’re saying there’s a desperate need to explain to Australians why they need to make sacrifices to prepare for war with China, while explaining to Australians that they need to make sacrifices to prepare for war with China. They are openly telling us that we need to be propagandized for our own good, while filling our heads with propaganda. 

They’re not just filling our minds with war propaganda, they are openly telling us that war propaganda is good for us.

………………………….. This latest propaganda piece says that in the event of a hot war with China, our nation may be struck with intercontinental ballistic missiles, we may find ourselves cut off from the world while the fuel supplies we rely on dry up in a matter of weeks, and we may find our infrastructure rendered useless by massive Chinese cyberattacks.

The empire-funded “experts” acknowledge that this will not be because China is just randomly hostile to Australia, but because we are a US military and intelligence asset who will support the US empire in its war:

But why would China use its limited resources to attack Australia instead of focusing solely on seizing Taiwan? Because of the strategically crucial role Australia is expected to play for the United States in the conflict.

“Our geography means we are a southern base for the Americans for what comes next,” Ryan says. “That’s how they’re seeing us. They want our geography. They want us to build bases for several hundred thousand Americans in due course like in World War II.”

Interestingly, the article contains a rare acknowledgement in the mainstream press that the presence of the American surveillance base Pine Gap makes Australia a legitimate target for ICBMs:

At no time is it ever suggested that the fact that going to war with China could cost Australia its shipping lanes and infrastructure and even get us nuked means we should probably reconsider this grand plan of going to war with China. At no time is it ever suggested that riding Washington’s bloodsoaked coattails into World War Three against our primary trading partner might not be a good idea. At no time is it ever suggested that de-escalation, diplomacy and detente might be a better approach than rapidly increasing militarism and brinkmanship.

And at no time is it ever suggested that we should reconsider our role as a US military/intelligence asset, despite the open admission that this is exactly what is endangering us. We’re not being told to prepare for war with China because China is going to attack us, we’re being told to prepare for war with China because our masters in DC are planning to drag us into one. We’re not being told to prepare for war to defend ourselves, we’re being told to prepare for war because our rulers plan to attack China.

We see this in the way Australia is assembling its war machinery, buying up air-to-ground missiles that cannot possibly be used defensively because their sole purpose is for taking out an enemy nation’s air defenses. We see it in the way Australia is buying up sea mines, which as journalist Peter Cronau has noted is less suitable for protecting our 34,000 km of coastline than for blockading the shipping lanes of an enemy nation you wish to lay siege to. We see it in the fact that China’s military budget remains steady at around one and-a-half percent of its GDP, while the US spends 3.4 percent and Australia is being persuaded to double our share from two to four percent. 

We’re not being prepared for a war to defend ourselves, we’re being prepared for a war of aggression to secure US unipolar hegemony — one that has been in the works for many years. We must resist this, and we must resist the tsunami of mass media propaganda that is designed to manufacture our consent for it. China  https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/australian-media-are-outright-telling?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=82124&post_id=107109488&isFreemail=true&utm_medium=email

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

The British-American coup that ended Australian independence

Guardian, John Pilger, Thu 23 Oct 2014

In 1975 prime minister Gough Whitlam, who has died this week [Oct 2014], dared to try to assert his country’s autonomy. The CIA and MI6 made sure he paid the price.


Across the media and political establishment in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam. His achievements are recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him.

Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had “reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution”. Whitlam ended his nation’s colonial servility. He abolished royal patronage, moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported “zones of peace” and opposed nuclear weapons testing.

Although not regarded as on the left of the Labor party, Whitlam was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety. He believed that a foreign power should not control his country’s resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He proposed to “buy back the farm”. In drafting the first Aboriginal lands rights legislation, his government raised the ghost of the greatest land grab in human history, Britain’s colonisation of Australia, and the question of who owned the island-continent’s vast natural wealth.

……………………………………… Whitlam demanded to know if and why the CIA was running a spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, a giant vacuum cleaner which, as Edward Snowden revealed recently, allows the US to spy on everyone. “Try to screw us or bounce us,” the prime minister warned the US ambassador, “[and Pine Gap] will become a matter of contention”

Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap, later told me, “This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House … a kind of Chile [coup] was set in motion.”

Pine Gap’s top-secret messages were decoded by a CIA contractor, TRW. One of the decoders was Christopher Boyce, a young man troubled by the “deception and betrayal of an ally”. Boyce revealed that the CIA had infiltrated the Australian political and trade union elite and referred to the governor-general of Australia, Sir John Kerr, as “our man Kerr”.

Kerr was not only the Queen’s man, he had longstanding ties to Anglo-American intelligence. He was an enthusiastic member of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom, described by Jonathan Kwitny of the Wall Street Journal in his book, The Crimes of Patriots, as “an elite, invitation-only group … exposed in Congress as being founded, funded and generally run by the CIA”. The CIA “paid for Kerr’s travel, built his prestige … Kerr continued to go to the CIA for money”.

When Whitlam was re-elected for a second term, in 1974, the White House sent Marshall Green to Canberra as ambassador. Green was an imperious, sinister figure who worked in the shadows of America’s “deep state”……………………………..


The Americans and British worked together. In 1975, Whitlam discovered that Britain’s MI6 was operating against his government. “The Brits were actually decoding secret messages coming into my foreign affairs office,” he said later. One of his ministers, Clyde Cameron, told me, “We knew MI6 was bugging cabinet meetings for the Americans.” In the 1980s, senior CIA officers revealed that the “Whitlam problem” had been discussed “with urgency” by the CIA’s director, William Colby, and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield. A deputy director of the CIA said: “Kerr did what he was told to do.”

…………………………….. On 11 November – the day Whitlam was to inform parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia – he was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers”, Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The “Whitlam problem” was solved, and Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true independence.

John Pilger’s investigation into the coup against Whitlam is described in full in his book, A Secret Country (Vintage), and in his documentary film, Other People’s Wars, which can be viewed on http://www.johnpilger.com/

 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/23/gough-whitlam-1975-coup-ended-australian-independence

March 9, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics international, reference | Leave a comment

Fixing a fatal, nuclear flaw in AUKUS

With an AUKUS announcement imminent, nonproliferation expert Alan Kuperman says there’s still time to make sure Australian subs use less dangerous low-enriched uranium and make the world safer.

In Australia, the admiral who leads the AUKUS task force disclosed on national television last month, when asked if Australia wanted HEU or LEU, “We will accept the reactor they give us.”

Since Australia cannot obtain its first nuclear submarine until “well into the 2040s,” according to the US Navy’s top admiral, there is still time for the United States to design that ship’s reactor for LEU fuel.

(Jonathon Mead probably does not understand the significance of this)

By   ALAN J. KUPERMAN March 07, 2023 https://breakingdefense.com/2023/03/fixing-a-fatal-nuclear-flaw-in-aukus/

In coming days President Joe Biden is expected to host a much-anticipated summit to announce how the United States and United Kingdom will provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia – the centerpiece of the trilateral AUKUS partnership dramatically unveiled 18 months ago.

When first publicized in September 2021, the deal sounded like a win for all three countries. The United States would get Australia to buy submarines that effectively would come under US command. Australia would increase the likelihood of the United States defending it from China. And the United Kingdom would bolster its ship-building industry.

However, the current implementation plan, as confirmed recently by a senior Australian official, contains a fatal and unnecessary flaw: Australia’s submarines would be fueled by tons of nuclear weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium (HEU) – an amount sufficient for hundreds of nuclear weapons – setting a precedent that would foster nuclear proliferation.

President Biden can and should insist on a safer nuclear fuel that could preserve both AUKUS and nonproliferation.

Weapons-grade uranium is arguably the most dangerous substance on earth. Terrorists could make a Hiroshima-sized bomb from just 100 pounds of it. Using more advanced methods, a country could produce an equivalent explosion from only 20 pounds [PDF]. Yet, Australia would acquire up to 10,000 pounds of it [PDF] – in reactors for “at least eight nuclear-powered submarines” under AUKUS.

Because HEU is so dangerous, the United States has striven for half a century to eliminate its use globally, except in nuclear weapons, by converting domestic facilities to use safer, low-enriched uranium (LEU), and then persuading other countries to follow suit. Around the world, some 71 nuclear reactors and all major producers of medical isotopes have already switched to LEU. In 2018, the United States also declared that Army reactors would use LEU fuel, and in 2020 expanded that to NASA reactors [PDF].

The only US exception has been for Navy reactors in submarines and aircraft carriers, which still rely on HEU fuel. However, in a 2016 report to Congress [PDF], the Navy said that it too could probably switch to LEU fuel. Yet the Navy has failed to do so, dismissing proliferation concerns on grounds that the United States already has nuclear weapons.

That excuse clearly does not apply to Australia, a country that has pledged under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) never to acquire nuclear weapons.

The precedent of such a state acquiring tons of weapons-grade uranium could unravel the global nonproliferation regime, because other countries would demand the same right. If the United States refused to provide them bomb-grade fuel, they could construct their own uranium enrichment facilities to produce it for naval or other reactors, on grounds that Australia had sundered the decades-long international taboo against HEU fuel.

Several countries rang the alarm last summer at the United Nations’ NPT review conference. Indonesia warned that “HEU in the operational status of nuclear naval propulsion” would endanger “the global non-proliferation regime” [PDF]. China asserted that it “sets a dangerous precedent for the illegal transfer of weapons-grade nuclear materials from nuclear-weapon states to a non-nuclear-weapon state” [PDF]. Even close US allies — the Netherlands, Norway, and South Korea — admonished the AUKUS countries by reaffirming that, “Efforts to reduce stocks of HEU and to minimize and eventually eliminate the use of HEU are a form of permanent threat reduction.”

The good news is that nuclear submarines do not require – and Australia has not demanded – weapons-grade fuel. France and China use LEU fuel in their submarines even though they possess HEU for nuclear weapons. Even the United States has been researching LEU naval fuel since 2016 [PDF], which also could be applied to British submarines that depend on US reactor designs and fuel.

In Australia, the admiral who leads the AUKUS task force disclosed on national television last month, when asked if Australia wanted HEU or LEU, “We will accept the reactor they give us.” Since Australia cannot obtain its first nuclear submarine until “well into the 2040s,” according to the US Navy’s top admiral, there is still time for the United States to design that ship’s reactor for LEU fuel.

That means it is entirely up to Biden to determine whether the AUKUS submarines will undermine the international nonproliferation regime by needlessly using tons of weapons-grade uranium fuel, or instead will reinforce that regime by complying with the international norm against HEU.

The wrong decision would set a precedent that many countries could exploit to produce HEU ostensibly for reactor fuel but in fact for nuclear weapons. In that case, AUKUS would create many more problems than it possibly could solve.

Alan J. Kuperman is associate professor and coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (www.NPPP.org) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.

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

Nuclear submarine zealot Jonathon Mead tries hard to reassure Australians about the “sovereignty” safety etc of the $171 billion submarine purchase, (avoids mention of costs and wastes)

Australia will put nuclear safety ‘above all else’ as it builds submarines, vice admiral says

In interview with Guardian Australia, Jonathan Mead moves to allay concerns as Aukus partners prepare to announce detailed plans

Daniel Hurst Foreign affairs and defence correspondent, Wed 8 Mar 2023  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/08/australia-will-put-safety-above-all-else-as-it-builds-nuclear-powered-submarines-vice-admiral-says

Australia will put nuclear safety “above all else” as it begins the “generational challenge” of building and operating nuclear-powered submarines under the Aukus pact, the government’s top adviser has said.

Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead has moved to allay concerns – both at home and across the region – about nuclear safety as Australia, the US and the UK prepare to announce their detailed plans within days.

The head of the Australian government’s nuclear-powered submarine taskforce has also insisted that the likely presence of American and British personnel on Australian boats would not inhibit Australian command and control.

In an interview with Guardian Australia, Mead said there were likely to be more Australians onboard British and American nuclear-powered submarines as part of the training process. He said as many as 40 Australians may potentially be onboard a US submarine at any one time.

The US president, Joe Biden, is due to welcome the Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and the British PM, Rishi Sunak, to the US for a joint announcement early next week about the practicalities of Australia acquiring at least eight nuclear-powered submarines

Mead, who leads a taskforce of more than 350 Australian officials who have been working on the plans, said this would be “a generational challenge for Australia and will probably redefine Australia’s strategic personality”.

But he sought to reassure partners in south-east Asia and the Pacific about Australia’s intentions. “I can give them a commitment that we will hold the standards of safety above all else,” Mead said on Wednesday.

“Look at the track record of US and UK nuclear submarines previously, look at Australia’s own track record in the way we manage our research reactor at Lucas Heights, and the way that we have managed visiting nuclear-powered ships and submarines over the past 60 years.”

Mead described nuclear safety as “the No 1 consideration as we build, operate, maintain and regulate the nuclear powered submarines”.

This would include safety of the submarine crew, safety of the community, and environmental protection.

He said Australia had received “a very clear message from the US and the UK that safety is paramount” but added: “I think the Australian people would absolutely expect that, so we’re going to make sure that we set a gold standard when it comes to safety.”

‘Welded, shielded and sealed’ for 33 years

Some nuclear experts have argued the Aukus arrangement depends on “a glaring and worrying loophole” in safeguards that could be exploited by others.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) does not ban non-nuclear weapon countries such as Australia from having nuclear-powered naval vessels.

The Chinese government has also sought to sow doubt about Aukus, arguing the deal would have “a grave nuclear proliferation risk and violates the object and purpose of the NPT”.

But Mead said each nuclear reactor would “come to us welded, shielded and sealed” and Australia was in continuing dialogue with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

He said they were making “excellent progress” on an inspection and verification regime, while acknowledging the need “to protect very sensitive technology of the US and UK”.

“Nuclear-powered submarines are not prohibited under the NPT,” Mead said.

“Yes, the reactors will be with highly enriched uranium. But once again, they are welded, shielded and sealed for the life of the reactor. That’s 33 years.

“We will implement the most stringent of security protocols to make sure that those reactors are not opened for the life of the submarine.”

Sovereign control

Mead was tight-lipped about the design of the submarine, the timeframes and the cost – all of which will be announced soon.

But he again defended the plans against concerns raised by former prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Paul Keating over their potential impact on Australian sovereignty.

“When we take our own sovereign control, we will clearly have some US and UK sailors there – and they may be there to provide technical advice on the reactor, or they may be upfront working with us in the combat system,” Mead said.

“We welcome that technical advice, we welcome subject matter expertise. And I think that we will continue to have US and UK people in our submarines, as we will have our own people onboard their submarines.”

But Mead said such arrangements would not inhibit Australian command and control.

“It doesn’t matter who is onboard. If that is an Australian flagged submarine with an Australian commanding officer, there is absolutely no ambiguity when it comes to sovereign control,” he said.

Asked what would happen if that technical advice was withdrawn, Mead said Australia was determined to “develop a sovereign ability to build a nuclear-powered submarine, operate a nuclear-powered submarine, maintain a nuclear-powered submarine and regulate a nuclear-powered submarine”.

“So there’s an expectation by our partners, and I think Australians would have an expectation, that we must be able to do this ourselves,” Mead said.

“But yes, we will have assistance, something we have assistance with many of our major programs. The US and the UK will assist us and as we develop more and more understanding of the technology, then we would be probably have less of those people in Australia.”

Mead said the looming announcement would show that the plans were “really a trilateral partnership” with the US and the UK, rather than a binary choice.

He said his taskforce was working closely with the South Australian government and unions to develop a supply chain and vendor base in Australia that could feed into US and UK programs.

On Wednesday the British high commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell, rebuked the Australian opposition leader, Peter Dutton, for saying the government should pursue US Virginia class submarines over a British alternative.

Treadell said she had spoken with Dutton and told him he was “commenting on an outcome he doesn’t yet know”. She told the National Press Club: “I was simply pointing out that I did not think such expressions were helpful on what is a genuine trilateral partnership started under his government.”

 

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

Australia’s Nuclear Subs Will Use a UK Design to Counter China

  • US parts and upgrades will be provided for the subs as well
  • In the meantime, the US may base some subs in Australia

Australia’s Nuclear Subs to Use UK Design, People SayUnmuteAustralia’s Nuclear Subs to Use UK Design, People Say

By Peter Martin, Kitty Donaldson and Alex Wickham, March 9, 2023 

Australia’s new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines will be based on a modified British design with US parts and upgrades, people familiar with the matter said, as the three countries press ahead with a security partnership meant to counter China. The submarine plan, set to be announced next week, will take years to produce its first vessel, probably necessitating stopgap measures, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. In the meantime, the US may base nuclear submarines in Australia or even sell the country US Virginia-class submarines. ……….. (Subscribers only)

March 9, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment