Australian news, and some related international items

Mining giant BHP pushes Albanese Government to remove hurdles to nuclear energy

The West Australian, Tue, 6 June 2023

Mining giant BHP has urged the Federal Government to remove its prohibition on nuclear energy to help meet the energy needs of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

The company lobbied Treasury — ahead of the May 9 Budget — to make the move as it told the Albanese Government that more must be done to protect energy security, affordability and decarbonisation, The Australian reported…………….. (Subscribers only)

June 8, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Washington Post reported Ukraine conducted a test strike with HIMARS on the Kahovka dam last year

the Washington Post reported in December 2022 that Ukraine had previously carried out a test strike using American HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) on a dam located on the Russian-held side of Ukraine along the Dnieper River in Kahovka. They cited Ukrainian Major-General Andriy Kovalchuk.

Human Events Media Group 06/06/2023

A dam on the Dnieper River was destroyed on Tuesday, flooding a substantial amount of the area where Ukrainian and Russian troops are engaged in fighting, after Ukraine launched their much-anticipated counter-offensive. The dam was in Russian control, and has been since shortly after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Ukraine claimed Russia blew up the Nova Kakhovka dam and said it was a war crime, while Russia has said that it was Ukraine who “sabotaged the dam, to distract attention from the launch of a major counteroffensive Moscow says is faltering,” Reuters reports.

Ukraine’s counter offensive has been in the works for some time, specifically targeting the Russian-held city of Kherson, and was just recently launched. 

“Russian terrorists,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Telegram. “The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam only confirms for the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land.”

However, the Washington Post reported in December 2022 that Ukraine had previously carried out a test strike using American HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) on a dam located on the Russian-held side of Ukraine along the Dnieper River in Kahovka. They cited Ukrainian Major-General Andriy Kovalchuk.

“Kovalchuk considered flooding the river,” the Washington Post reported. “The Ukrainians, he said, even conducted a test strike with a HIMARS launcher on one of the floodgates at the Nova Kakhovka dam, making three holes in the metal to see if the Dnieper’s water could be raised enough to stymie Russian crossings but not flood nearby villages. The test was a success, Kovalchuk said, but the step remained a last resort.”………………..

June 8, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Ukrainian “counter-offensive”: A new stage in the US-NATO war against Russia

Every aspect of the war, including the “counter-offensive,” is being directed by the Biden administration, the Pentagon and NATO. It is being led by forces trained by NATO and armed with NATO weapons, including depleted uranium shells supplied by the UK. Operationally, it is organized from Washington and the Pentagon. The masses of Ukrainians are being exploited as cannon fodder. Among the first divisions thrown into the battle, many are raw draftees with little or no training.

WSWS Joseph KishoreDavid North, 5 June 2023

The US-NATO war against Russia over Ukraine is entering a new stage this week, with reports of a significant increase in fighting along a broad front Monday and enormous casualties.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported on its official Telegram channel that Russian forces countered a Ukrainian offensive on the Vremevka outpost in South Donetsk, which is currently controlled by Russia. It stated that over 1,500 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and that Russia seized 28 tanks, including eight German-made Leopard tanks.

Russia also reported an offensive of Ukrainian troops toward the south, against the territory along the coast of the Sea of Azov that connects Crimea and the Donbas, both held by Russia or pro-Russian forces since 2014. A Russian-appointed official in the city of Zaporizhzhia said that the fighting in the south involved extensive shelling and strikes by Ukraine using British-French Storm Shadow missiles.

It is apparent that Monday’s operations mark the beginning of the long anticipated “summer counter-offensive.” While there is, at present, limited information, one thing can be said with certainty: The fighting will result in a vast increase in the number of deaths, both Ukrainian and Russian.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that “a large number of soldiers are going to die,” but “we are going to do it.” Reliable estimates place the death toll of Ukrainians in the war so far at 300,000.

Every aspect of the war, including the “counter-offensive,” is being directed by the Biden administration, the Pentagon and NATO. It is being led by forces trained by NATO and armed with NATO weapons, including depleted uranium shells supplied by the UK. Operationally, it is organized from Washington and the Pentagon. The masses of Ukrainians are being exploited as cannon fodder. Among the first divisions thrown into the battle, many are raw draftees with little or no training.

The US and the NATO powers are determined to inflict a Russian defeat, with dreams of a military parade of NATO troops in the streets of Moscow. The Financial Times wrote on Monday that “there has been a notable change of tone among senior western officials, who have appeared increasingly skeptical about Russian military capabilities. Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, last week made a clear case for an outright Ukrainian victory based on ‘territorial integrity’ [that is, retaking all territory presently controlled by Russia] in a speech that also disparaged Russia’s military ‘as the second-strongest in Ukraine.’”

The FT also cited comments by Ben Wallace, the UK defense secretary, that Ukraine could take back Crimea as part of the offensive. “What we’ve seen on the battlefield is that, if you punch Russian forces in the wrong place, they’ll actually collapse,” he said.

Such statements combine propaganda with self-delusion. The Ukrainian military has been bled white over the past 15 months. It is entirely reliant on the US and NATO, not only to provide training and weaponry, but increasingly the manpower necessary for escalating the war.

The operations in Ukraine are only one part of a barely disguised, undeclared war between NATO and Russia, which is expanding in intensity and geographical scope.

Developments on the ground in Ukraine have been timed to coincide with a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo, Norway late last week. This meeting itself was to prepare a full NATO war summit next month in Vilnius, Lithuania, only a short drive from the Russian border. Behind closed doors, the leaders of the NATO powers are discussing and implementing the next stage in the escalation.

Already, Ukraine, operating under the direction of the US, has launched drone strikes targeting Moscow, begun shelling Russian cities, and organized incursions into Russian territory, using vehicles and equipment provided by the US and its NATO allies. Poland has become directly involved in the conflict, with members of the so-called “Polish Volunteer Corps” of Polish citizens participating in cross-border raids from Ukraine into Russia.

An article in the Washington Post (“Defend ‘every inch’ of NATO territory? New strategy is a work in progress”), published Monday, opens with a description of French paratroopers being dropped into Estonia, which borders Russia and is only 150 km from St. Petersburg. The Post notes that the French war exercises in Estonia are “part of a stepped-up rehearsal of what it would take to reinforce a [NATO] battle group” in the country.

Speaking of what can only be described as a massive military mobilization, the newspaper writes, “NATO has bolstered its eastern flank in part by establishing battle groups in four additional countries: Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia,” with 10,000 troops across eight battle groups. Dozens of ships and hundreds of planes, along with ground-based air defense, have been sent to countries on Russia’s border, particularly the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

War games are taking place currently throughout Europe, including the massive “Defender Europe 2023” exercise, which began on April 22 and involves 26,000 troops from the US and its allies. The final component of the operations, “Saber Guardian 23,” began last week and is centered on the Black Sea, to the south of Ukraine. It involves soldiers and sailors from Albania, Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia and the United States.

Given the statements of leading US and NATO officials that they are committed to the military defeat of Russia, the Putin government will be compelled to interpret all these actions as possible preparations for NATO incursions into Russian territory. The purpose of all these operations is to support the Ukrainian offensive by distracting Russian military commanders from exclusive focus on the Ukrainian front and compelling them to divert forces to other border regions.

In the capitals of the NATO powers, a mood of reckless hysteria prevails. Over the weekend, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, confronted by protesters at a gathering of his Social Democratic Party outside of Berlin, unleashed a Hitlerian rant against Russia and denounced Putin as a “murderer” and a “warmonger.”

The White House has rejected calls for a ceasefire or negotiated settlement to the conflict that does not include full capitulation by Russia. Encouraged by Russia’s failure to respond to each escalation, the Biden administration has concluded that there is no “red line” that it cannot cross.

In an article published under the headline “Biden Administration Shrugs Off Ukraine’s Attacks in Russia,” the New York Times wrote on Monday that the White House has discarded the pretense of discouraging direct attacks in Russia by Ukraine, using US-supplied weaponry. “Behind closed doors,” the Times wrote, “senior administration officials have seemed even less fazed. ‘Look, it’s a war,’ one senior Pentagon official said last Thursday. ‘This is what happens in a war.’”…………………

June 8, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Content of radioactive element in fish at Fukushima’s Nuclear Power Plant 180 times of safe limit

CGTN 6 June 23

The radioactive elements in the marine fish caught in the harbor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan far exceed safety levels for human consumption, according to a report issued by the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on Monday. In particular, the data released show that the content of Cs-137, a radioactive element that is a common byproduct in nuclear reactors, is 180 times that of the standard maximum stipulated in Japan’s food safety law.

CGTN downloaded the English version of the report available on TEPCO’s official website. According to the data, the sampled black rockfish contains the radioactive element Cs-137 with a content of 18,000 becquerels per kilogram. Data available on the website of Fukushima Revitalization Station run by Japan’s Fukushima prefectural government shows that Japan’s current limit of radioactive cesium in general food which contains fish is set at 100 becquerels per kilogram.  

According to the report, the location where the sampled fish was caught is at the port area of Units 1 to 4 of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, where a breakwater is built and nuclear wastewater with a high concentration of radioactive substances flows in. TEPCO said it will set up multiple protective nets to prevent fish from swimming out of the harbor.

A Chinese news website quoted experts noting that the radioactive elements in the nuclear wastewater could penetrate into fish, shrimp and other seafood, and later accumulate in the human body after consumption. ……………………

TEPCO on Monday started sending seawater into an underwater tunnel to be diluted before releasing the nuclear wastewater into the ocean. The company said that all facilities for the water release system are expected to be completed by the end of this month.

Local fishing communities say their businesses and livelihoods will suffer still more damage. Neighboring countries such as China and South Korea and Pacific Island nations have raised safety concerns. Environmental groups including Friends of the Earth oppose the release.

June 8, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tasmania backs 2GW Bass Strait offshore wind farm proposed by Norway oil giant

June 8, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Redflow seeks to raise $19 million to fund more big flow battery projects

June 8, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Journalists Are Asking Ukrainian Soldiers To Hide Their Nazi Patches, New York Times Admits

AZOV soldier, UKraine


The New York Times has been forced to very, very belatedly deal with something which had long been obvious and known to many independent analysts and media outlets, but which has been carefully shielded from the mainstream masses in the West for obvious reasons. 

The surprising Monday Times headline said that “Nazi Symbols on Ukraine’s Front Lines Highlight Thorny Issues of History.” This acknowledgement comes after literally years of primarily indy journalists and geopolitical commentators pointing out that yes indeed… Ukraine’s military and paramilitary groups, especially those operating in the east since at least 2014, have a serious Nazi ideology problem. This has been exhaustively documented, again, going back years

But the report, which merely tries to downplay it as a “thorny issue” of Ukraine’s “unique” “History” – suggests that the real problem for Western PR is fundamentally that it’s being displayed so openly. Ukrainian troops are being asked to cover those Nazi symbols please!–as Matt Taibbi sarcastically quipped in commenting on the report.

The authors of the NYT report begin by expressing frustration over the optics of Nazi symbols being displayed so proudly on many Ukrainian soldiers’ uniforms. Suggesting that many journalistic photographs which have in some cases been featured in newspapers and media outlets worldwide (typically coupled with generally positive articles on Ukraine’s military) are merely ‘unfortunate’ or misleading, the NYT report says, “In each photograph, Ukrainians in uniform wore patches featuring symbols that were made notorious by Nazi Germany and have since become part of the iconography of far-right hate groups.”

NATO itself has in the recent past been forced to delete images on its official social media accounts due to Nazi imagery being present among Ukrainian troops during photo shoots.

The following line from the report says everything you need to know about the so-called “paper of record” and its one-sided and ultra-simplistic coverage of what many are finally waking up to realize is a war with a deeply complex reality (to say the least), and far from the MSM’s goodies vs. baddies Hollywoodesque narrative of Putler vs. the free world which is typical of networks from CNN to Fox to NBC…

From the NY Times: 

“In November, during a meeting with Times reporters near the front line, a Ukrainian press officer wore a Totenkopf variation made by a company called R3ICH (pronounced “Reich”). He said he did not believe the patch was affiliated with the Nazis. A second press officer present said other journalists had asked soldiers to remove the patch before taking photographs.”


…………..The iconography of these groups, including a skull-and-crossbones patch worn by concentration camp guards and a symbol known as the Black Sun, now appears with some regularity on the uniforms of soldiers fighting on the front line, including soldiers who say the imagery symbolizes Ukrainian sovereignty and pride, not Nazism.

Some are writing more appropriate and apt headlines for the NYT story…

Only very recently Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and even President Zelensky’s office was caught in the act

In April, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry posted a photograph on its Twitter account of a soldier wearing a patch featuring a skull and crossbones known as the Totenkopf, or Death’s Head. The specific symbol in the picture was made notorious by a Nazi unit that committed war crimes and guarded concentration camps during World War II.

The patch in the photograph sets the Totenkopf atop a Ukrainian flag with a small No. 6 below. That patch is the official merchandise of Death in June, a British neo-folk band that the Southern Poverty Law Center has said produces “hate speech” that “exploits themes and images of fascism and Nazism.”

To be expected, the Times still tries to run cover while desperately seeking to ‘reassure’ its audience by writing that “In the short term, that threatens to reinforce Putin’s propaganda and giving fuel to his false claims that Ukraine must be ‘de-Nazified’ — a position that ignores the fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish.”

New levels of cope indeed…

But then still, the NYT concedes awkwardly, “More broadly, Ukraine’s ambivalence about these symbols, and sometimes even its acceptance of them, risks giving new, mainstream life to icons that the West has spent more than a half-century trying to eliminate.”

June 8, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Queensland breaks ground on massive Wambo wind and battery project

June 8, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NT looks to throw wind into energy mix 

June 8, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ACT passes first law in Australia banning gas in new homes, as fossil empire strikes back

June 8, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Low cost wind and solar protect ACT consumers from bill shock once again

June 8, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear news (and climate) this week

Some bits of good news.      Rock ‘flour’ from Greenland can capture significant CO2, study shows. How Much Would It Cost to Solve Climate Change? And How Would We Pay for It?


Extreme heat events have now become the new normal.

$528 Billion nuclear clean-up at Hanford Site in jeopardy.

Unlimited money to Ukraine is now allowed, through USA’s “Debt Sealing” arrangement.

EDITORIAL: Government turns a blind eye to lessons from nuclear disaster. Tiny radioactive particles persist indoors years after Fukushima.

Panellists discuss nuclear documentary ‘Atomic Bamboozle’ and warn against return of nuclear power .

Climate. 1.5 C limit is still feasible. Increasing heat could turn ocean plankton microbes into carbon emitters. Mediterranean now a global heating hotspotFreak May typhoon shows Philippines is now in constant state of climate emergency. China swelters through record temperatures. And vulnerability of old people to heat waves.

Nuclear.  Well, like the plastic pollution (we’re all swimming in it),  chemical pollution, species extinction, probability of pandemics, overpopulation, the hazards of AI –    nuclear dangers pale into some insignificance beside the now reality of global heating.

Today is World Environment Day. What a joke! What are our illustrious leaders worrying about?  They, the male-dominated  national chiefs are all about their usual preoccupation –  getting ready to wage war against each other. That’s the important thing –  climate change gets a mention in passing – the occasional “motherhood statement”.

Meanwhile – wildfires across many Northern regions, extreme heat, ocean changes ……..  The earth has Bipolar Disorder: and so do we,  – and also RADIO ECOSHOCK


  ECONOMICSNRG exits nuclear with sale of South Texas Project stake. Call on ratepayers to fund a study for small nuclear reactors in Clark County. Amidst all the enthusiastic promotion of Small Nuclear Reactors, there’s still the admission that SMRs are simply unaffordable. Dutch government sets many $millions in funding for Nuclear Power, and to encourage investors in nuclear. Nuclear energy just helped Finland slash electric costs by a staggering 75% — so why doesn’t the US follow suit? 3 reasons we are cool on the power source.

 Marketing: Unseemly scramble as makers of small nuclear reactors try to con UK government 

ENVIRONMENT. Finland’s newest nuclear plant is warming the sea, harming wildlife.

ETHICS and RELIGION. Nonviolent ecumenical movements call for ratification of the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty.

HEALTHFemale health care workers need better protection from radiation, doctors say.

MEDIA. British police detain journalist Kit Klarenberg, interrogate him about The Grayzone. The Days’: The Story of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and Netflix’s New Drama. Instagram bans Democratic presidential candidate RFK Jr from creating new campaign accounts.

NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY. France’s triple dependence on nuclear fuel . Iran increasing enriched uranium stocks, holding 23 times the limit, says nuclear watchdog. US announces $46 million in funds to eight nuclear fusion companies. Scientists heat nuclear reactor to 100 MILLION degree Celsius – hotter than the SUN (what could possibly go wrong?).

OPPOSITION TO NUCLEARCall for International Action against Fukushima Radioactive Water Dumping in the Pacific. Plan to release Fukushima nuclear plant water into sea faces local opposition: “The sea is not a garbage dump. British anti-nuclear campaigners support Canadian counterparts over nuke dump (on

POLITICS. Bill to extend operating period of nuclear plants passes Japan’s Upper House. Greenland refuses to allow exploitation for uranium.  France’s triple dependence on nuclear fue (on

POLITICS INTERNATIONAL and DIPLOMACYFrance, Germany Dispute Over Nuclear Energy Leaves EU Deadlocked on Renewables.     US cuts data sharing with Russia under New START nuclear deal.     Biden wants to engage Russia on nuclear arms control.    West considers renewed engagement on Iran nuclear crisis. Andrew Little tells nuclear powers New Zealand’s stance isn’t just ‘wishful thinking’.      Dismay in the region over Japan’s plan for nuclear waste water

RADIATIONTritium found beyond safe limits in treated Fukushima wastewater.


SECRETS and LIESWarren Report Reveals Vast Pentagon-to-Defense Contractor Lobbying Pipeline.

WASTES. Proximity principle – nuclear waste should be stored as near as possible to the point of generation. South Korea experts say more study needed on Japan’s nuclear water plan. Nuclear waste disposal site could be built next to power plant, Estonia.

WAR and CONFLICTNetanyahu convenes Iran war drill, scorns UN nuclear watchdog.

WEAPONS and WEAPONS SALES. The AUKUS nuclear submarine deal is a nuclear proliferation danger. We are going backwards: we now face a new wave of nuclear weapons manufacturing . Blinken Dismisses Calls for a Ceasefire, Says US Must Build Up Ukraine’s Military. Largest ever Arctic Challenge NATO fighter aircraft exercise begins in Northern Europe.

Disconnecting War from Its Consequences, (cut welfare spending, increase weapons). Protest Disrupts Opening of North America’s Largest Weapons Fair. NATO official calls on China for transparency over nuclear weapons  

June 5, 2023 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

AUKUS Fissile or Fizzer? Rex Patrick on the trouble with Virginia Class second hand submarines

In what Paul Keating has described as ‘the worst deal in all history’, we’ve decided to buy into more second hand military hardware from the US; this time Virginia class nuclear submarines.

ED note – and we are left with their toxic wastes, also

by Rex Patrick | Jun 5, 2023

Former submariner Rex Patrick looks under the hood of the second-hand Virginia-class nuclear submarines to see what Australia has bought. Even AUKUS fans might not like what they see.

February 2011 is a time many in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) would certainly prefer to forget. Within the month, the Defence Minister Stephen Smith had announced a number of trouble-plagued military landing craft would be disposed of and a review would be conducted into Support Ship Repair and Management Practices. Four months later Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Crane, was gone.

On February 3, 2011, the biggest storm to have ever hit Queensland crossed the Australian coastline and carved a swath of destruction across the state. The storm displaced 10,000 people and caused $3.5 billion in damage. And the Navy was unable to respond with any amphibious ships to help Queenslanders.

On September 26, 2010, the Defence Minister had been advised that two former US Navy ships, HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla, were in what was described as an ‘operational pause’. By December the decision was made that Manoora would be decommissioned, although that news never made it to the Minister until January 28, 2011, when a tropical depression was forming off Queensland. The Minister was also advised that Kanimbla was to be unavailable to the RAN for 18 months.

That left HMAS Tobruk, a 30 year old ship, as the standby ship. On February 28, the Navy advised the Minister it was on 48 hours’ notice to go to sea. By February 2, with Yasi now a category 5 cyclone, Tobruk entered dock for emergence repairs. It left the dock two days later but was unfit to sail for any of the Yasi response.

The Navy had failed Australians.

Rust buckets

Manoora and Kanimbla were naval clunkers.  The two elderly ships had been picked up from the US Navy as an ‘opportunity buy’. There’s normally a reason things come at a bargain basement price. (Our Air Force made the same mistake after it bought second hand C-27J Spartan light tactical aircraft from the US Air Force that don’t do the job… we never learn.)

The Auditor-General detailed the saga in his September 2000 Amphibious Transport Ship Project Audit. After the RAN inspected the two ships in early 1994 the ships were bought for the grand price of $61 million. A $55 million contract was immediately signed with Newcastle’s Forgacs shipyard to do a quick overhaul. 

The quick upgrade went from 14 months to 44 months and the price went to $203 million. As the Auditor finished up his work at the turn of the millennium, the price was closing in on $450 million.

That Defence bought rust buckets and spent almost 10 times the purchase cost repairing them just meant It was ‘operations normal’.

Second hand Virginias

Fast forward to 2023.  Have we learned any lessons? It appears not.  

In what Paul Keating has described as ‘the worst deal in all history’, we’ve decided to buy into more second hand military hardware from the US; this time Virginia class nuclear submarines.

Under questioning from Senator Jacqui Lambie at Estimates last week, the Navy revealed that the submarines we’ll likely get in the mid-2030s are boats built from 2020.  

The estimated reactor life of the Virginia-class boats is 33 years.  So we will hope to get about 20-years out of these second-hand vessels.  The actual time they’ll be available for operations will be much less when you take into extended maintenance and refits.  

The head of the nuclear submarine program, Vice Admiral Mead, suggested that we might get one new boat, if we’re lucky (we’ll get what we’re told by the US Congress).

The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Hammond, assured the Senate that we won’t see a repeat of the Manoora and Kanimbla debacle, saying the Navy’s ‘subsafe’ program won’t allow that.

Getting a grip

But even if Admiral Hammond is right (and Defence’s credibility on procurement is pretty well shot), the fact is that the Virginia Class program has some problems Australia is unlikely to be able to deal with.

The first highly noticeable issue with the Virginia class is a problem that has surfaced with the submarine’s acoustic coating that’s designed to reduce the ‘target strength’ of the submarine (how much sound energy from an enemy active sonar bounces off the submarine, back to the enemy).

The coating is prone to peeling off at high speed leaving loose cladding that slaps against the hull, making dangerous noise, and causes turbulent water flow, which also causes dangerous hull resonance (where the hull sings at its resonant frequency, like a tuning fork) and extra propulsion noise.  I know a bit about this as a former underwater acoustics specialist.  

The issue, reported in 2017 and again in 2019, is easily seen on the side of the submarine andalmost certainly without a fix at this stage.

Admiral Hammond tried to brush off the issue in the Senate. In response to Senator Lambie, he claimed that the photos she had tabled were of submarines that had come to the end of long patrols. But submarines are designed to do long patrols. I wonder how comfortable the Admiral would be landing at Heathrow Airport in London from Sydney, with the aircraft captain advising the parts of the wings normally fall off on long haul flights.

It’s not OK for our submariners to find that the boats they are using to keep us safe become noisy, and thus increasingly vulnerable to detection and destruction, halfway through their deployment.

Lack of availability

The bigger problem for Australia is the challenge the US Navy is encountering keeping (particularly) aging Virginia-class submarines at sea. Part of the problem is parts supply difficulties, with cannibalisation (taking parts from other submarines) regularly happening to keep a diminished number of boats at sea.

A November 2022 press report stated, “The U.S. Navy has nearly twice as many submarines sidelined for maintenance than it should, and those boats in maintenance ultimately require three times more unplanned work than they should, the program executive officer for attacks subs has said”.

It went on to say, “Of the 50 attack subs, [Rear Admiral] Rucker said 18 are in maintenance or waiting for their turn. Industry best practice would call for just 20% to be tied up in repairs, or 10 boats instead of 18”.

If the US Navy is having difficulty with keeping its boats at sea, with significant in-country industrial capability, how will Australia hope to keep our Virginia subs at sea? Our second-hand, ageing boats may spend as much time undergoing maintenance at Australian dockyards, or more likely waiting in a queue at a US dockyard, as they might be available for operations.  

We may be eventually end up getting eight AUKUS submarines, only to find we can only keep two, instead of three in a fully operational state. 


That would be $368 billion to have only one or two submarines are sea. And that’s just absurd. There were, and still are other, more sensible and cost-effective paths available. 

Sometime in the future Australia may face the strategic equivalent of Cyclone Yasi, a defence contingency in which the number of operational submarines we have available will be of vital importance to our national security.  

Tragically, however, absurd is ‘operation normal’ for Defence procurement. SNAFU

June 5, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power the most expensive

Noel Baxendell, Holt ACT 4 June 23

There is a concerted push by conservatives for Australia to have nuclear power generation, in the belief that somehow cheaper electricity will substitute for a range of policies needed to solve the economic challenges that our economy faces.

I fear that unwittingly Bill Stefaniak (CW 25 May 2023) has fallen for some of the rubbish that these nuclear power boosters put into the public debate, especially on social media.

On 16 April 2023, Finland did expand the capacity of its Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant (OL3).  The Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant began construction in 2005, and produced its first nuclear power in 2017 – eight years behind schedule.  It has only now reached its full capacity. Power prices in Finland did reduce, but not by the 75 per cent that Bill has claimed; just back to levels prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Electricity in Finland now costs 0.74 Euros per kilowatt hour – the equivalent of $1.65.  The reference price for electricity in Canberra is 28.2 cents per kilowatt hour.

Nuclear power is by far the most expensive and dangerous form of power generation, as a proper understanding of Finland’s generation would demonstrate. Finland generates more of its electricity by nuclear power than any other country and sells this energy at prices that Australian households would just not tolerate.

  • Electricity in Finland now costs 0.74 Euros per kilowatt hour – the equivalent of $1.65.  The reference price for electricity in Canberra is 28.2 cents per kilowatt hour.
  • Nuclear power is by far the most expensive and dangerous form of power generation, as a proper understanding of Finland’s generation would demonstrate. Finland generates more of its electricity by nuclear power than any other country and sells this energy at prices that Australian households would just not tolerate.

June 5, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The AUKUS nuclear submarine deal is a nuclear proliferation danger

The plan to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines has met with anger from China and fears that it sets a dangerous precedent, writes Mike Higgins.

The AUKUS nuclear submarine deal is a challenge for the IAEA, Chatham House, 2 JUNE 2023, Mike Higgins

The trilateral security pact between the United States, the UK and Australia, known as Aukus, will be at the forefront of the International Atomic Energy Authority’s board of governors meeting in Vienna from June 5-9.

Rafael Grossi, the IAEA Director General, is due to present a report on the state of the negotiations governing the supply of new nuclear submarines to Australia. At issue is how arrangements for the supply of nuclear material will adhere to a never-before used article of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or NPT.

Article 14 allows the use of nuclear material when not applied to weapons to be exempt from the usual safeguards and protocols under the NPT. By the early 2030s Australia will buy from the US up to five conventionally armed nuclear submarines and, a decade later, build a new class of nuclear-powered submarine with US and British technology. Approval from the IAEA watchdog is essential for these plans.

China has strongly criticized the agreement, saying, among other things, that the Aukus partnership ‘constitutes serious nuclear proliferation risks’, and that the alliance was forcing its own interpretations of Article 14 to suit its needs beyond the spirit of the NPT. ‘The international community has not reached any consensus on the definition of such military activity and there are huge divergences on the applicability of Article 14,’ said Wang Wenbin, China’s chief foreign ministry spokesperson, in March.

Grossi is expected to elaborate on the implications of the Aukus partnership at the IAEA’s board meeting.
At a Chatham House event in February, Grossi acknowledged the partnership required ‘a special arrangement’ between the Aukus partners and the IAEA, representing a ‘game changer’ for non-proliferation safeguards: ‘This is the beginning of a long road,’ he said.

A dangerous precedent? 

…………………. some experts urge caution over the exercising of Article 14, claiming it sets a dangerous precedent which could lead to nuclear material being diverted into the making of nuclear weapons.

‘My concern is not that Australia is going to remove nuclear material from safeguards and build a nuclear bomb,’ said James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. ‘But once you normalize the precedent that it’s OK to remove nuclear material from IAEA safeguards you create a much higher risk that other states are likely to do so.

‘For instance, if Iran and Russia were to announce naval cooperation that looked like Aukus, I don’t believe that the US, Britain and Australia would feel comfortable with that on non-proliferation grounds,’ he said.

Other challenges lie ahead for the IAEA in monitoring Aukus. Nuclear submarines at sea may remain out of reach of inspectors for months at a time and nuclear fuel for naval reactors is highly classified − the Aukus partners may be unwilling to give inspectors access to its design or confirm the exact amounts to be used………….

June 5, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment