Australian news, and some related international items

Australia sells weapons to Saudi-led coalition, is complicit in human rights abuses

Australia’s arms deals ignoring ‘gross violations of human rights’, ex-defence official says  

Defence department says it provides export permits only if satisfied that the weapons will not be used in breach of international law   Ben Doherty, 8 Sept 19,    A former secretary of the Australian defence department says the country cannot justify selling weapons to militaries involved in the five-year war in Yemen, which now stand “accused of gross violations of human rights and likely war crimes by the UN”.

And the Australian co-author of the just-released United Nations report into human rights atrocities in Yemen has said governments that sell weapons to belligerent countries are responsible for prolonging the conflict and contributing to immense humanitarian suffering.

The report found that the conflict had been plagued by human rights abuses, including hospitals being bombed, civilians being deliberately targeted by shelling and sniper fire, civilian populations being deliberately starved, medical supplies being blocked, rape, murder, enforced disappearances, torture, and children being forced to fight.

Australia is one of several countries that sell weapons to those that are part of the Saudi-led Coalition in conflict with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Australian government says it imposes strict controls on exports to ensure they are not used in the Yemeni conflict.

But the former secretary of the department of defence Paul Barratt told Guardian Australia that regardless of whether Australian-made weapons were crossing the border into Yemen, “the fact remains that Australia now has a national policy which seeks and facilitates weapons sales with countries that stand accused of gross violations of human rights and likely war crimes”.

“When did this particular trade in arms become official Australian policy? Even if we are successfully legally tiptoeing around the Arms Trade Treaty, such deals surely cannot be acceptable on moral or ethical grounds,” Barratt said. “As a country that routinely asks other countries to abide by the rules-based international order, it would seem hypocritical, at best, that Australia is now willing to … make a profit from, weapons sales to nations that are openly flouting this international order.”

Melissa Parke, the former federal MP for Fremantle, was one of three UN-appointed experts to compile its report on Yemen.

The report said hospitals had been bombed, civilians attacked and starvation used as a tactic of war, and alleged that there had been a “collective failure” from the international community to intervene in the five-year war to reduce the suffering of civilians; rather, support from international actors had prolonged the conflict. The public report detailed a list of the key military, political participants in the conflict. A confidential list of those most likely to be complicit in war crimes has been sent to the UN.

Parke said Yemeni civilians had “borne the brunt” of a brutal conflict that was being exacerbated by international indifference, and material support from some governments.


September 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran is not a threat to Australia’s security

Trumped Up: Wiki cables show Australia thinks Iran is not the aggressor, Michael West, by Prof. Clinton Fernandes — 23 August 2019  Wikileaks cables reveal Iran presents no threat to Australia and little threat to the US. Instead, clear intelligence from the US, Australia and Iran confirms Iran, although portrayed as aggressive, has pursued a defensive military strategy. Clinton Fernandez reports.

August 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison’s failure in diplomacy: the Pacific Forum and climate change

August 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Lynas’ radioactive waste – still a toxic issue in Malaysia

Australian mining company Lynas gets permission to dispose of radioactive waste in Malaysia, dividing locals ABC 

Key points:

  • Malaysia has renewed the rare earth plant licence of Australian company Lynas
  • Green groups say Lynas’ activities pose a threat to the local environment
  • Lynas says it will meet the licence obligations set by Malaysia’s Government

Outside of China, the Australian firm, Lynas, is the world’s only major producer of rare earth minerals, which are crucial in the production of high-tech gear including smartphones, laser-guided missiles and electric car batteries.

The ore is dug up at Mount Weld in Western Australia and then shipped to Malaysia, where the cost of processing is significantly lower.

The low-level radioactive waste is a by-product of the enrichment process and Malaysian activists are convinced it poses a threat to local communities.

At a recent protest in Kuantan, several hundred people rallied against the Australian firm and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s decision to extend its licence to operate.

“[The radioactivity] will be passed through our children and our children’s children,” said Moses Lim, a chemical engineer turned activist.

“We may be gone, but our grandchildren will curse us.”

Mr Lim claimed the issue had the potential to “tarnish the good name of Australia” in the minds of millions of Malaysians. But the Prime Minister, 94-year-old Dr Mahathir, dismissed criticism of Lynas’ operations in Malaysia.

“It’s not Chernobyl. This isn’t going to be dangerous,” he said.

‘We just have to accept this fate’

The issue has split the local community, which relies on the hundreds of high-paying jobs that the processing facility provides.

At a local fish market in Kuantan, a mother who declined to offer her name told the ABC she feared radioactive contamination from the facility would make its way into her food.

“I am scared, but I have no choice but to buy the fresh fish from here. We just have to accept this fate,” she said.

“I think Lynas should be shut down for the sake of the surrounding environment.”

But other locals said there was nothing to worry about, blaming politicians for trying to capitalise on the issue by whipping up fear in the community.

Raja Harris bin Raja Salleh, the chief fisher in Balok village, said the residents are “not at all scared”.

“Lynas is the same as other agencies and factories that produce chemicals. The accusations against Lynas are political,” he said.

Toxic waste becomes a toxic issue

The issue of Lynas’ radioactive waste has become politically toxic for the Mahathir-led coalition, which promised in opposition to close the Australian plant.

Now in government after last year’s shock election result, there has been a major backing down.

Lynas is allowed to keep operating its plant and has been given six months to find a suitable site within Malaysia to permanently dispose of 580,000 tonnes of low-level radioactive waste currently stockpiled at the Kuantan facility.

The company has also been given four years to relocate its cracking and leaching processing operation — which creates the radioactive waste — to Western Australia.

Wong Tak, a Malaysian Government MP who attended the Kuantan protest, said the cabinet decision to extend the licence was a “great disappointment”.

The long time anti-Lynas campaigner claimed the issue was serious enough to fracture the Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope, Coalition.

“I know the majority of backbenchers are with us, and I will even say the majority of the cabinet are with the people.”

Dr Mahathir has taken a pragmatic approach to the issue, saying the decision to extend the licence was based on expert advice, not the “popular view”.

“Either we get rid of the industry and lose credibility in terms of foreign direct investment, or we can take care of the problem,” he said……

The fate of Lynas in Malaysia is being keenly watched around the world amid concerns rare earth materials could become a bargaining chip in the ongoing US-China trade war.

In 2010, the Chinese supply of rare earths to Japan suddenly stopped for two months following a territorial dispute over Japan’s claim to the Senkaku Islands, which angered China.

The construction of the Lynas plant in Malaysia was largely funded in 2011 by Japan, which needed a reliable supply of rare earths.

China currently holds a near-monopoly on the production of rare earth minerals, with Lynas producing about 13 per cent of global supply.

August 22, 2019 Posted by | politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment

Australia losing credibility with Pacific nations, as Morrison supports coal, not climate action

August 20, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Jacinda Adearn and Scott Morrison – the contrast over attitudes to climate change

Australia has to answer to the Pacific’: Ardern weighs in on climate change responsibilities,  SBS 14 Aug 19, Australia’s climate policies are under the spotlight at the Pacific Islands Forum, but Scott Morrison has vowed to show up for the “hard conversations”.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has found herself caught in the middle of the Pacific island nations, who are calling for a tougher stance, and Australia, her country’s greatest ally.

Speaking at the Pacific Islands Forum, she has urged for greater action on climate change and made a thinly veiled criticism of Australia’s defence of its rising greenhouse gas emissions.

We will continue to say that New Zealand will do its bit and we have an expectation that everyone else will as well,” she told reporters.

“Australia has to answer to the Pacific, that is a matter for them.”

Ms Ardern noted New Zealand contributes a small amount to global emissions but said that wasn’t an excuse not to act.

“If we all took the perspective that if you’re small it doesn’t matter, we wouldn’t see change.”

This is in stark contrast to Energy Minister Angus Taylor, who has used Australia’s small global contribution when defending rises in domestic emissions.

The New Zealand leader also sided with Pacific nations by saying anything more than a 1.5-degree rise in global temperatures would have a catastrophic effect.

Negotiations on the wording of the final communique are ongoing, with smaller nations calling for a phase-out of coal, no new coal mines and for Australia to not use carryover credits to reach emissions goals……

Although regional security issues are bubbling under the surface, Pacific leaders are dedicated to focusing on climate change, which is threatening their survival. …..

Minister for the Pacific Alex Hawke, who now has the prime minister by his side, earlier admitted Australia was trying to remove mention of phasing out of coal in the final communique.

He described it as a “red line issue” for Australian negotiators.

Mr Morrison has delved right into the forum, holding bilateral meetings on Wednesday with Ms Ardern as well as Vanuatu leader Charlot Salwai, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna and Tuvalu’s Enele Sopoaga.

Mr Sopoaga has not held back on his strong language against Australia, saying its aid for the region was no excuse not to reduce emissions or open new coal mines.

The Pacific leaders will spend Thursday together at a leaders’ retreat.

August 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Redirecting aid money to Pacific will not excuse Australia’s inaction on climate change

Tuvalu’s PM says Australia’s climate funding for Pacific ‘not an excuse’ to avoid emissions cuts, ABC, Pacific Beat , By foreign affairs reporter Melissa Clarke  13 Aug 19 Tuvalu has warned Australia that redirecting aid money to climate resilience projects in the Pacific should not be used as an “excuse” to avoid reducing emissions and phasing out coal-fired power generation.

Key points:

  • Tuvalu wants Australia to cut domestic emissions and stop opening coal mines
  • Countries like Australia have been urged to continue to fund the UN’s Green Climate Fund
  • Australia’s aid budget will stay the same, just redirected to fund climate change initiatives

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday morning announced a $500 million package of funding, redirected from aid spending, to help Pacific countries invest in renewable energy and become more resilient to climate and weather events…….

Speaking after a meeting of Smaller Island States (SIS), Mr Sopoaga also called on countries like Australia to continue to fund the UN’s Green Climate Fund, which helps developing nations cope with climate change.

“We certainly respect what Australia decides to do with its assistance in terms of how big, but we want … global actions,” he said……

Mr Sopoaga, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and other Pacific leaders have become increasingly vocal in the lead-up to this year’s PIF leaders’ meeting in appealing to Australia to take a stronger stance on climate change. …..

August 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Time that Australia stopped blindly following USA into wars

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Australia’s AUSMIN invitations: clean the driveway, wash the dishes. Again 9 August 2019

In the course of the current AUSMIN talks Australia has once again been invited, by the United States, to assume a role for which it is well, indeed over-qualified for – namely to provide janitorial services in the aftermath of a series of strategic debacles by the US itself. Serial prodigality and recklessness are to be rewarded with serial subservience and indulgence.  It’s a tradition.  

Amid declarations of the “unbreakable” nature” of the alliance relationship Defense Secretary Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper made it clear that both an Australia contribution to a joint coalition of naval forces to protect merchant shipping from attacks by Iran, and Australia’s support for US decisions to scrap the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and deploy weapons once banned by the INF should be forthcoming.

On such matters wherein William Butler Yeats got it right when he wrote that excessive love, leading to needless debasement, and finally to bewilderment becomes a sacrifice so overpowering that it can “make a stone of the heart.”

But, of course, I speak of people historically informed and critically aware of whom there appear too few, or none with voice, at these talks.

If there were, some (at least) murmurings might have been heard to the effect that the current Iran-Straits of Hormuz crisis is principally the result of a White House anti-diplomatic vandalism. By extension, supporting the US is, essentially, to validate a threat to international peace and security.

More positively, declining to contribute to the US-led coalition would, if followed over time on similar occasions, establish a long overdue threshold reflecting Australia’s national interest, responsible international citizenship, and a reminder to the US that it must reform.  Wishful thinking? OK – is the preference, then, to be a janitor?

When approval is finally announced, as it almost certainly will be, it will come dressed, as it always does, in the many coloured costume-of-the-day festooned with the many medals of past defeats and the usual claims whereby necessity – the need to serve “the national interest,” and preserve “the international rules-based order” has determined the commitment.

Little thought will be given to the consequences of failure, or what victory would be like.  Iran is not a country that will stand for endless bullying and immiseration; it has no substantial navy to persist in ship seizures, but it has capabilities in the form of mines that would make passage in the gulf significantly hazardous to a level at which shipping is uninsurable.

What throws this situation into shadow are three unaddressed (in Australia, anyway) dimensions of US global strategy which go to the heart of the defence of Australia, its alliance with the United States in general and Pine Gap in particular, and the immediate Asia-Pacific region: (1) the explicit context of US strategic decisions, (2) the rationale for scrapping the INF, and (3), the subsequent deployment statements of the once proscribed weapons and others as well which, in combination, imply a renewed US attraction to nuclear war-fighting.

The first should have been a primary concern even before the Trump Administration but it has become unavoidable since its advent and the reported “serious, long-term preparations to restructure the US economy to fight a war with a “peer” adversary [Russia and/or China] entailing radical changes to American economic, social and political life” as detailed in a Pentagon document of October 2018.

This document, moreover, is consistent with a stream of reports, exercises, deployments, weapons developments and bellicose statements by high-level military and civilian personnel which exhibit, in brief, a disposition to war, in parallel with the relegation of diplomacy to an irrelevance beyond its cosmetic utility.

Such a frame of mind easily accounts for the US withdrawal from the INF.  Ostensibly this was mandated by Russia’s (possibly not deliberate) breach of the Treaty with the development and very limited deployment of the of the 9M729 missile and, secondarily, the fact that the INF did not include China.

To be understood here is that constituencies in the Pentagon and the Congress had been working assiduously for years to wreck the treaty.  More significantly still, the US was also quite possibly in breach of the treaty by installing an Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System at Deveselu air base in Romania (with another planned for Poland).

If we add to this  the US initiative to modernise its nuclear arsenal by installing the  burst-height compensating super-fuze – which effectively triples the killing power of its ballistic missiles – which, although outside the scope of the INF Treaty, relates in a fundamental way to strategic stability.

As described by three of America’s most respected weapons analysts (Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, and Theodore Postol) in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists the situation is one  the US has developed “the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.”

Without entering into a ping-pong match of accusation and rationalisation, expert arms control opinion in both Russia and the United States is in agreement that, even if Russia’s 9M729 was in breach of the treaty, the nature and magnitude of the breach in no way justified US withdrawal, nor its obscenely rapid leap into deploying a range of previously prohibited, and other weapons, in Asia.

[Equally, if the non-inclusion of China in the INF Treaty was a grievance, then surely there was an obligation to initiate a round of arms control or disarmament negotiations which addressed the dangers arising from the proliferation of intermediate range missiles].

Instead, what we have witnessed in recent days is a speed of decisions and deployments relating to previously proscribed weapons that suggests a deeply guilty past during the writ of the INF treaty.

These must be seen in the context of the new inventory of nuclear weapons – inter alia so-called “mini-nukes” – in the lingua franca of the discourse, these are not “mega-destructive, but smaller, “tactical,” and “low/variable yield;” others are described as “earth-penetrating / “bunker-busters” (also “low yield).  And all will be joined by a suite of hypersonic missiles- described by its patrons as “fast, effective, precise and [currently] unstoppable.”

In time, China, Russia, and the US will all have them in their respective orders of battle. An arms race is as close to inevitable as a political cause-effect chain can be.

Three Conclusions: First, the nuclear developments in favour of the United States tempt not only a first strike (the US emphatically maintains this option) but also the notion of a winnable nuclear war.  The speed and destructive power of the hypersonics underline a first strike decision; warning time will be negligible and the “dictum use it or lose it” will be dogma.  By hosting the US facilities at Pine Gap, Australia is inextricably involved in this deadly evolution.

Second, the just-completed AUSMIN talks, therefore, are to be seen as another episode in the ongoing grooming process by the US. It has plans for Australia.

Third, realising the country’s enhanced target status, the Australian government will no doubt call for a missile defence system – perhaps the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD); indeed, two former Prime Ministers (Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott) have already done so.  Such a costly acquisition would be entirely consistent with currently defined defence priorities and strategic logic, both determined in Washington.

On the other hand, a decision to recognise Australia’s unnecessary transit into the deeper shadows of war by refusing to match America’s irresponsibility with Australia’s own irresponsibility would follow the logic of truly defined national interest articulated by a government engaged with its own people and region.

Michael McKinley is a member of the Emeritus Faculty, The Australian National University

August 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison says no USA missile base in Australia – (not YET, anyway)

I guess we’ve got enough nuclear targets for now, anyway
‘Draw a line under it’: PM rules out US missile base in Australia, The Age By Stephanie Peatling, August 5, 2019 Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ruled out the construction of US missile bases in Australia, saying no such request was made at high-level defence and diplomatic talks between the two countries over the weekend.US and Australian officials appeared to leave open the option of a missile base being built in northern Australia as part of a move to counteract an increasingly assertive Chinese presence in the South Pacific at the conclusion of the talks in Sydney on Sunday…….

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds also emphatically ruled out any formal request by the United States. …..

Any use of Australian soil as a launch site for intermediate-range missiles would anger Beijing, given that could bring Chinese military installations in the South China sea within range.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper had earlier canvassed placing conventional intermediate-range missiles “in Asia”, following the collapse last week of the US-Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, which aimed to limit development of such weapons.

Asked whether Australia might now also be under consideration for basing a conventional version of the weapons, with ranges of 500 to 5500 kilometres, Dr Esper did not give a direct answer…..

But Australia remains open to a US invitation to join a coalition of countries to protect oil tankers and cargo ships from attack by Iran in the Straits of Hormuz…….

August 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Michael Kirby urges Australia to sign up to nuclear weapon ban treaty

Michael Kirby urges Australia to sign up to nuclear weapon ban treaty,  

Former high court judge says it’s a fluke the world has avoided nuclear disasters since the second world war and weapons remain a peril

The former high court judge Michael Kirby believes it was a fluke that the world has avoided further nuclear weapons disasters since the second world war and has urged Australia to sign up to a weapon ban treaty.

Kirby will launch a report in Sydney this week from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which calls for Australia to get on board.

Ican, which was founded in Melbourne, won the 2017 Nobel peace prize for leading the campaign for a global ban on nuclear weapons that resulted in a United Nations treaty being adopted in July 2017.

Kirby seized on the 74th anniversaries this week of the US detonating two nuclear bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“That the world has survived seven decades since Hiroshima is more by good luck than effective management and there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so in an environment of proliferating nuclear weapons,” he said.

He acknowledged the nuclear weapons ban treaty was not perfect but “doing nothing is a far greater weakness”.

“Failing to address the challenges of nuclear weapons to humanity, the safety of the planet and the biosphere, highlights the global community’s failure to respond appropriately and effectively to the existential peril of nuclear weapons,” he said.

The nine nuclear powers, including the US, oppose the weapons ban treaty, arguing it could undermine nuclear deterrence.

More than 120 countries voted for the UN treaty and so far 70 have formally signed up and 24 have ratified the agreement. The treaty comes into force once 50 countries have ratified, which is expected in 2020.

Australia is not on the list. The federal government argues the ban treaty would not eliminate a single nuclear weapon. While Australia doesn’t have any nuclear weapons, it relies on “umbrella protection” under the US alliance.

can co-founder Dr Tilman Ruff said it is possible for Australia to keep its security pact with the US but sign the nuclear weapons treaty.

He pointed out 11 of 17 of the US’s regional allies have voted for the treaty’s adoption and three have signed up, including New Zealand.

“For none of those has there been any disruption or fuss with their ongoing military cooperation with the US,” Ruff said.

Ruff said if Australia was to sign up it would have to reconsider any nuclear weapons link to operations at joint facilities such as the satellite surveillance base Pine Gap in central Australia.

The report suggests the relay ground station at Pine Gap’s western compound would have to be closed or the US would have to separate out defensive functions from nuclear war-fighting.

It’s one of multiple redundant channels,” he said. “It’s clear that function of Pine Gap could easily be removed. Clearly this would need to be a negotiation, it would likely involve processes that would take a couple of years but we think that it’s eminently doable,” he said.

The federal Labor conference last December adopted as party policy a binding resolution to sign and ratify the UN treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons.

Anthony Albanese, who prosecuted that case at the conference, has as party leader reaffirmed his commitment.

“I’m a big supporter of nuclear disarmament. It is something that I’ve supported my entire political life,” Albanese told the ABC Insiders program on Sunday.

“We want to be a part of bringing the world with us. The fact is that over a period of time, issues like landmines and chemical weapons and other weapons have been outlawed, but nuclear weapons, the most catastrophic and damaging that can exist, still remain.”

In government ranks only Liberal MP Warren Entsch and Nationals MP Ken O’Dowd have publicly backed Australia joining the weapon ban treaty. Meanwhile, Australian foreign affairs minister Marise Payne and defence minister Linda Reynolds met with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Mark Esper in Sydney on Sunday for annual talks.

Epser flagged on Saturday he supported placing ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region in the short term.

Asked if northern Australia could be a potential site, he declined to speculate, saying the US deployed systems globally with friends and allies with consent and respect for sovereignty.

“We make decisions based on mutual benefit to each of the countries,” he said.

The US scrapped a nuclear arms pact with Russia on Friday. Both countries have pointed fingers at each other for violating the 1988 intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty.

August 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Looks as if Malaysia will let Lynas keep its radioactive wastes there, after all

Malaysian minister capitulates on Lynas waste export condition, The Age,  By Colin Kruger, August 4, 2019   One of Lynas Corp’s fiercest critics in Malaysia has confirmed the country’s government will drop a requirement for the rare earths miner to export its radioactive waste from the country.

The confirmation, from Malaysian environment minister Yeo Bee Yin, all but secures Lynas licence to operate in the country beyond September 2 and could reignite a $1.5 billion bid for the business from Perth based conglomerate Wesfarmers.

Ms Yeo said the decision made by Cabinet to allow Lynas to setting up a permanent disposal facility (PDF) in Malaysia was a better outcome than earlier proposals, according to local press reports at the weekend.

A final decision from cabinet is expected later this month.

Ms Yeo had planned to visit Australia last month to discuss exporting the waste back to Australia, but the trip was cancelled after the West Australian and federal government rejected the proposal.

Lynas’ share price plunged in December when her ministry imposed a new condition on the extension of the company’s licence to operate in Malaysia beyond September this year. This included the removal of more than 450,000 of low level radioactive waste.

On Friday Lynas told the ASX it is scouting locations for a permanent disposal facility in Malaysia the day after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad suggested this is the compromise that will secure its licence.

In May, the company said it would spend $500 million by 2025 on value added processing in the US and Malaysia as well as setting up a processing plant in Western Australia, near its Mt Weld mine, to extract radioactive waste from its rare earths before it is shipped to Malaysia.

On Saturday, Lynas managing director, Datuk Mashal Ahmad, issued a statement to the local media that the company is looking at disused mines as potential sites.

“There are a number of disused mines in the state of Pahang that require rehabilitation and a PDF can be designed such that it assists in the rehabilitation of this land, providing environmental benefits in a sustainable way,” he said in a statement……

August 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister urges Australia to help island nations threatened by climate change

July 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

No clear answer in sight, for Lynas’radioactive waste problem in rare earths project in Malaysia

July 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment

France’s latest nuclear-powered ‘Barracuda’ class submarine: why did Scott Morrison send Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds to France, for the launch.

French President Emmanuel Macron unveils France’s nuclear-powered ‘Barracuda’ submarine    12/07/2019  French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled France’s latest nuclear-powered ‘Barracuda’ class submarine on Friday, a €9 billion stealth vessel programme Paris says is key to maintaining its naval presence for decades to come…….

The French government has placed an order for six of the 5,000-tonne submarines made by Naval Group, in which defence company Thales has a 35 percent stake.

The Australian defence minister Linda Reynolds attended the ceremony unveiling the submarine. Australia recently ordered a non-nuclear attack class submarine fleet from the Naval Group………

July 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

The unwisdom of Australia mindlessly following USA into a war against Iran

We must think very carefully before committing to war in the Gulf, The Age, By Hossein Esmaeili, July 8, 2019 Conflict between the United States and Iran is deepening and the two states are marching towards war. The Persian Gulf, where a third of the world’s natural gas and a fifth of the world’s oil is sourced, may soon see another large scale and probably long-lasting international conflict………

On Sunday, Iran announced it would enrich uranium beyond the nuclear deal limit unless the remaining parties – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – help reduce the paralysing US economic sanctions, which are strangling Iran’s economy. …….
Any war in the volatile environment of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East would not be, as Trump said, ‘‘quick and short’’, but rather a blazing regional and international conflict which may disturb the world economy and endanger global peace and security. ….
In late June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially called on Australia to play a role in a new global coalition against Iran. Following Pompeo’s request, Prime Minster Scott Morrison did not rule out possible Australian involvement in a possible military conflict between the US and Iran.  ……
After the events of September 11, 2001, John Howard invoked provisions of the 1951 ANZUS Treaty to demonstrate Australia’s support for the US in its war against the Taliban/al-Qaeda and later against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.  …..

Australia has no legal obligations under the ANZUS Treaty, or any other international agreement, to join the US in another possibly long, chaotic and devastating regional conflict. Indeed, under the Charter of the United Nations, to which both Australia and the US are parties, the use of force is prohibited unless authorised by the Security Council of the United Nations.

Australia’s Prime Minister must think very carefully before committing Australia to a war that has virtually no international support, no international legal justification, and no rational justification. ……

the European Union is backing measures, provided by France, United Kingdom and Germany, known as Instruments In Support of Trade Exchange (INSTEX), to facilitate trade between the EU and Iran to partially get around the US sanctions, in order to save the 2015 nuclear deal, to maintain dialogue with Iran and to prevent an international military crisis.

Australia would be much wiser to join the EU’s INSTEX and engage in dialogue with Iran……..

Should Morrison decide to enter into a conflict in one of the most volatile regions of the world, he will not have the decision-making power to end it. He would do well not to drive Australia into such a war, instead, given Australia’s international reputation, he should help European countries, the world community and the United Nations to avoid a useless armed conflict, which will not benefit any country.

War with Iran won’t be like war with Iraq: significantly more pain, more bloodshed and more devastation for the entire world, including Australia, will be the result.

Hossein Esmaeili is an associate professor of international law at Flinders University.

July 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment