Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Prime Minister Albanese refuses to meet with Assange’s family

The claim that Australia cannot intervene in the legal case is being advanced by Labor MPs across the board, including those who previously postured as defenders of the WikiLeaks founder.

 https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/08/06/rbnb-a06.html Oscar Grenfell@Oscar_Grenfell5 6August 2022 In a revealing development last Wednesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese refused to meet with the family of incarcerated WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange when they visited the Australian federal parliament in Canberra.

Assange’s father John Shipton and his brother Gabriel Shipton met with Independent and Greens MPs, but were reportedly unable to secure meetings with Albanese, Foreign Minister Penny Wong or Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.

The snub expresses, again, the real attitude of the Labor government to Assange, Australia’s most famous political prisoner. In line with its commitment to US-led militarism, including the confrontations with Russia and China, Labor is intensely hostile to Assange because of his exposure of US-led war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While making highly ambiguous statements about the Assange case having “dragged on too long,” the Labor administration has refused to use its diplomatic and legal powers to secure his freedom since it was installed after the May 21 election.

This amounts to a green light for Assange’s extradition from Britain to the US, where he faces Espionage Act charges and 175 years in prison for publishing true information about the illegal wars and global diplomatic conspiracies of American imperialism.

In comments to the Guardian after their visit, both Shiptons condemned the Labor government’s failure to defend Assange and demanded that it immediately intervene.

Gabriel Shipton recalled one of the few occasions on which Albanese explicitly referenced the WikiLeaks founder. Asked about the Assange case last December, Albanese purportedly told a shadow cabinet meeting, “enough is enough”—a refrain cited publicly by several Labor MPs.

But Shipton noted: “It is months ago now that he said this stuff and made the statement that enough is enough, but when is enough, enough? Julian’s still in prison. He’s been there for three years and he is not a convicted criminal.”

Shipton added: “They could pick up the phone and call Joe Biden and make it a non-negotiable. We are strategically vital to the US at the moment, they need our resources, if it was made a non-negotiable, Julian would be here tomorrow.”

The Labor government, however, is serving as the closest of partners with the Biden administration. Albanese and Wong have met repeatedly with the US president. The primary focus of their first months in office has been on foreign policy. 

Labor has functioned as an attack dog for the Biden administration throughout the Asia-Pacific, with Wong continuously traveling the region to demand that its leaders sign up unequivocally to the US-led aggression against China.

Shipton pointed to the obvious hypocrisy at the heart of Labor’s refusal to defend a persecuted citizen and journalist. “We’re dealing with this prosecution or persecution that in any normal circumstance would be seen as totally illegal, and if it was Iran doing it to somebody, or China, or Vietnam, the government would be calling them out,” he said.

Shipton continued: “It is not just about Julian’s life and his wellbeing, it is a matter of principle, and if Australia wants to be the sort of country that calls out nations on their press freedom record, they could definitely be more vocal.”

John Shipton commented on a recent Declassified Australia article. It cited internal briefings to the Labor government, indicating that the sole focus of Labor’s “diplomacy” in the Assange case, was to consider a possible prison transfer from the US to Australia.

This would only be an option after Assange had been extradited and convicted on frame-up charges in a US court, a process that could take years or decades. It would, moreover, be entirely conditional on the agreement of the US government.

John Shipton said this scenario was “grotesque.” He pointed to the spate of extraordinary abuses carried out as part of the US pursuit of Assange. They have included the theft of Assange’s legal documents, unlawful spying on him and discussions within the Trump administration and the American Central Intelligence Agency in 2017 on kidnapping or assassinating him in London.

For Labor to refuse to intervene until after Assange’s extradition was “the most feasible way for them to continue to sit on their hands and do nothing.”

Such a course of action would also amount to a death sentence. Assange’s psychologists and doctors have testified, under oath, that he would take his life were he to face imminent dispatch to his US persecutors. In addition, the WikiLeaks publisher’s physical health is failing, expressed most sharply in a minor stroke last October.

On the same day the Shiptons visited parliament, Greens Senator David Shoebridge noted in question time that Labor MPs had claimed the government was engaged in “quiet diplomacy” on Assange’s behalf. “Quiet diplomacy can’t be no diplomacy,” Shoebridge stated, before asking: “What exactly is the government doing to secure the release of this Australian citizen, journalist and whistleblower?”

In reply, Trade Minister Don Farrell stated again that the case had “gone on for too long” and should be “brought to a close,” without giving any indication of how this would take place.

Farrell said Australia was not a party to the extradition case, which was between Britain and the US, and “respected” the legal processes of both parties. This line replicates that of the previous Liberal-National Coalition government. It amounts to a green light for the extradition and a declaration that Labor will do nothing.

Assange’s extradition hearings are not a routine “legal matter” but a monstrous frame-up. They involve the persecution of an Australian journalist for his publishing activities. This is a frontal assault on the most fundamental democratic norms, including press freedom.

In numbers of cases, Australian governments have actively used their diplomatic and legal powers to secure the freedom of citizens persecuted abroad, even when such attacks have taken a pseudo-legal form.

This was the case with Peter Greste, a journalist freed from an Egyptian prison in 2015, after being framed-up on “national security” charges. The same occurred with James Ricketson, a documentary filmmaker who had phony “espionage” charges leveled against him in Cambodia, and Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an academic who was accused by Iran of being a spy.

The claim that Australia cannot intervene in the legal case is being advanced by Labor MPs across the board, including those who previously postured as defenders of the WikiLeaks founder.

It was repeated in a recent Consortium News interview by Labor backbencher Julian Hill. He insisted there were “limits to what we can do because Australia and the Australian government are not parties to the case, that’s just a fact.” Hill also defended Albanese’s supposed “quiet diplomacy.”

Hill has changed his tune since Labor took office. In August 2020, for instance, he stated: “The UK claims to be a rule of law country guaranteeing a fair trial, open justice and due process. What a joke!… The persecution and treatment of Julian Assange are unconscionable. This is inherently political and our government is too cowardly to defend him, to even demand that he gets a fair trial.”

Hill could now say the same about Albanese, the Labor government and himself.

For their part, the Greens posture as defenders of Assange. But they have rejected calls for a party campaign fighting for his freedom and buried the WikiLeaks publisher’s plight during the election.

The Greens’ entire orientation is to deepen their collaboration with the Labor government, expressed last week in their backing for Albanese’s climate bill, which will do nothing to address global warming and is premised on defending the interests of the coal and gas barons.

As the Socialist Equality Party has insisted, the fight for Assange’s freedom requires a struggle against the entire political establishment, and its program of war and authoritarianism. This must be based on mobilising the Australian and international working class, the constituency for a genuine fight against capitalist reaction and in defence of democratic rights.

August 8, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Does Australia actually need nuclear submarines?

It’s obvious the real policy is to subsidise the US Navy’s submarine budget.  Some will be located in Australia, with Australian flags and personnel, but they’re essentially US boats operated in the US’s great power interests. We’re paying for them to set up part of their current and future fleet in Australia.”

fewer than two of Australia’s eight nuclear submarines would be operationally available, on average, each year. And the cost of the purchases is likely to be stunning, possibly as high as $171 billion……………….. No other country has bought this type.

“Australia could buy 20 high-quality, off-the-shelf, modern submarines for $30 billion.” 

influential Australian intelligence and defence officials are ignoring the point that there is no need for Australian submarines to spend much time in China’s waters

Gilligan also warns that the shallow and warm waters around Australia’s north are unsuited to large nuclear submarines. 

As experts question the diplomatic, strategic and economic rationale behind Australia’s purchase of nuclear-powered submarines, the gaps in the country’s defensive fleet could be filled by conventional subs.  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2022/08/06/does-australia-actually-need-nuclear-submarines#mtr By Brian Toohey. 6 Aug 22,

In 1992, an Australian Oberon-class submarine entered the crowded waters of Shanghai’s port and became entangled in fishing nets. It had to surface for crew members to cut it free with axes. Chinese Navy sailors witnessed this, but nevertheless the submarine escaped. Had it not, the crew would’ve been imprisoned and Australia widely condemned and potentially convicted for an outrageous breach of international law. 

Almost a decade earlier, the Australian Navy had seriously considered scrapping submarines, according to former senior Australian Defence official Mike Gilligan. A study in 1985 had concluded they offered “little marginal benefit to Australia’s defences yet inflict a large marginal cost”. The cost could’ve been much higher given the tremendous risks the government allowed the navy to take, snooping in Chinese and Russian waters on behalf of the Americans, who wouldn’t put their nuclear submarines in danger.

Australia now faces some tough and highly consequential decisions with respect to its fleet. Some experts in the defence field question not only the utility of nuclear-powered vessels but the diplomatic, strategic and economic commitment they entail. 

In Washington last month, Defence Minister Richard Marles said Australia, the United States and Britain were moving from “interoperability to interchangeability in defence hardware”. This would effectively mean Australia could not buy high-quality defence equipment from other countries if there was a higher-cost American or British version available. Professor Clinton Fernandes at the UNSW Canberra campus says, “It’s obvious the real policy is to subsidise the US Navy’s submarine budget.  Some will be located in Australia, with Australian flags and personnel, but they’re essentially US boats operated in the US’s great power interests. We’re paying for them to set up part of their current and future fleet in Australia.”

Australia has a short and patchy record on submarine purchases. The government acquired many major weapons during World War II. None were submarines. That capability had to wait until the first of a total of six Oberon-class submarines was commissioned in 1967 from a Scottish shipyard. They operated satisfactorily but weren’t considered the nation’s most important military assets.

After Kim Beazley became Defence minister in the Hawke government, he gambled on the value of submarines by ordering six large, battery-powered versions to be built in Adelaide. No other country has bought this type.

The first was commissioned in 1966 and the last in 2003. Called the Collins class, it was based on a good Swedish design. But Beazley greatly increased its size and complexity, partly by adding American equipment that proved completely useless. Maintenance problems drove annual sustainment costs to $670 million. Often only two or three were available at a time, although availability later improved. And none attended the 2010 Rim of the Pacific event – known as Rimpac, the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, held biennially near Hawaii. 

Former prime minister Scott Morrison and his successor, Anthony Albanese, have taken a much bigger gamble than Beazley did, with their commitment to buy at least eight nuclear attack submarines – almost certainly the American Virginia class. One of the US’s most highly regarded defence analysts, Winslow Wheeler, recently pointed out the Virginia-class subs have been available only 15 times in 33 years for their six-monthly deployments. This suggests fewer than two of Australia’s eight nuclear submarines would be operationally available, on average, each year. And the cost of the purchases is likely to be stunning, possibly as high as $171 billion when accounting for inflation, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and more recent estimates are above $200 billion. The costliest previous military acquisition, for the Australian Air Force, is the inflation-adjusted $16.6 billion program cost for 72 F-35 fighter jets. 

Former submariner, naval consultant and South Australian senator Rex Patrick says, “Australia could buy 20 high-quality, off-the-shelf, modern submarines for $30 billion.” 

Patrick also makes the point that nuclear submarines are often “defeated” in exercises by ultra-quiet conventional submarines.

Major new developments are making conventional submarines even more formidable than the nuclear versions. More powerful sensors mean submarines can be detected by the noise they make and by their passage through the Earth’s magnetic field. In addition, nuclear submarines can be detected by the wake they leave at high speeds, as well as the hot water they release from cooling their nuclear reactors, operating loud steam engines and other equipment. In future, submarines may also be detected by blue-green lasers that make the ocean more transparent. 

A prize-winning essay published in the US Naval Institute’s magazine Proceedings in June 2018 said the US Navy would do well to consider acquiring “some quiet, inexpensive and highly capable diesel-electric submarines”. Until recently, conventionally powered submarines frequently had to rise close the surface to expose a mast and snorkel to obtain fresh air for their diesel engines to recharge the batteries. This process can be detected by radar.

Most conventionally powered submarines – except Australia’s – use what is called air independent propulsion (AIP), which allows them to remain silent for four to six weeks before snorkelling. That often entails using a hydrogen fuel cell to propel the submarine, but it takes up significant space on the vessel.

In a major change, Japan’s new Taigei-class submarines don’t need AIP because they’re equipped with particularly efficient lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminium oxide batteries, rather than the lead-acid batteries that the Australian Navy prefers, due in part to the risks of lithium-ion batteries catching fire. Other navies are increasingly confident the new types of battery will prove safe. Hans Ohff, a submarine specialist and visiting fellow at Adelaide University, told The Saturday Paper, “Generally speaking, lithium-ion batteries have a 1.5-times range advantage over lead-acid at lower speeds and an incredible four-times range advantage at high speeds.” 

Since the Collins class is due to start retiring in 2026, a replacement is urgently required to help fill the gap until the first nuclear submarine might arrive, near 2045, and the last in 2065. Senator Patrick says the time it takes to do this can be reduced by choosing one of the three available “off-the-shelf” submarines: Japan’s Taigei, which has passed numerous tests demonstrating the safety of its new batteries; Singapore’s Type 218SG, made by Germany’s thyssenkrupp Marine Systems; and the Spanish S-81. The latter two still use conventional lead-acid batteries, but Ohff says a French and German joint venture is under way to develop their own lithium-ion batteries. 

These options have advantages and drawbacks. The new Taigei class – of which Japan is acquiring 22 – requires a costly crew of 70 per vessel. The Type 218SG’s German manufacturer is the biggest submarine exporter in the world, with an enviable reputation for low maintenance costs across its range. Extensive automation means it needs only 28 crew members, and the vessel has a longer range than the Taigei’s 12,500 kilometres. Spain’s S-81 has a crew of 32 but a less experienced manufacturer.

With China being the principal concern of Australian diplomatic and defence policymakers, Ohff says the navy will never accept off-the-shelf submarines unless it can “Australianise” them – meaning they must have the range to operate for long periods, many thousands of kilometres away, probably in Chinese waters or nearby. Ohff says the navy’s preferences would take a minimum of 10 years to deliver the first boat and additional two-year intervals for the following boats. He says delivery of a Swedish “Son of Collins” could take nine years. 

Patrick says influential Australian intelligence and defence officials are ignoring the point that there is no need for Australian submarines to spend much time in China’s waters: Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam have high-quality submarines closer to China. The main attraction of nuclear submarines for these officials is they could fire subsonic cruise missiles at land targets in China from more than 1000 kilometres off its coast. However, cruise missiles can be shot down by fighter planes overhead. Once a nuclear submarine fired its missiles, it would be detected and swiftly targeted. Even if it survived, reloading would require the help of a tender – a large depot ship that supplies and supports submarines – probably from the distant base at Fremantle, which recently hosted a reloading for a US nuclear submarine. In any event, an attack on Chinese territory could provoke a heavy counterattack on Australia’s forces or its mainland.

Gilligan says most of the capability offered by submarines is better provided by Australia’s maritime and land-based aircraft. He says submarines, including nuclear ones, are slow compared to aircraft. Technically, a plane could sink a ship off Australia’s west coast in the morning, refuel, then sink another off the east coast in the afternoon. Gilligan also warns that the shallow and warm waters around Australia’s north are unsuited to large nuclear submarines. 

Deploying nuclear submarines far from Australia marks a return to the previously discredited doctrine of “forward defence” in South-East Asia that concentrated on a big British naval base in Singapore, which was swiftly overrun by the Japanese in 1942. When this doctrine failed during the Vietnam War, the Coalition government in the late 1960s adopted a “defence of Australia” doctrine, which survived until its recent abandonment. Patrick and other proponents of this latter doctrine expect a revised doctrine would put more emphasis on having medium-sized conventional submarines to help deny hostile forces access to the approaches to Australia, unless they could detect and destroy all the submarines, drones, planes and land-based missiles blocking their way.

Finally, from a defence perspective, much of the planning around nuclear submarines assumes – implausibly – that Chinese and US policies will proceed in a predictable way until past 2060. A purely geopolitical analysis, however, could easily underplay the disruptive role of climate change.

In purely geopolitical terms, the region may become more peaceful or more dangerous. The only urgency for Australia is to forget about nuclear submarines and get some conventionally powered submarines to enhance deterrence.

August 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A clarification about China and Taiwan


Norman Realname, 5 Aug 22,

I’m grateful to a reader for providing this explanation.

I still think that it’s a pretty bad idea for USA and Australia to start a probable World War 3 over Taiwan.

The Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are NOT synonyms and should not be used as such. The ROC has NO control over Hong Kong; it’s a semi-autonomous territory ruled by the PRC under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, as per treaty. Thus, grumbling about democratic subversion aside, there was no question of the PRC’s sovereignty over it.

The ROC, however, DOES have control over Taiwan, and the PRC does NOT. As to why this is the case, the most oversimplified answer is that the Chinese Civil War never fully ended and both governments claim to rule the territory of the other, but since the PRC has the de facto control of almost all of it, it’s recognized as the “real” China. The more complicated answer is that since democratization the ROC government no longer wants to rule the mainland and sees itself as a separate Taiwanese nation but is forbidden to relinquish its territorial claims (under threat of invasion) by the PRC who view Taiwan as integral Chinese territory and would interpret any movement away from them as secession (even though the PRC has never actually ruled over Taiwan).

The US and China differ over their interpretation of the situation. The PRC’s One China PRINCIPLE states that there is only one China, and Taiwan is a part of China. The US’s One China POLICY states that they *acknowledge* the PRC’s position on the matter, without actually saying whether or not they agree that Taiwan is part of China. In other words: the US generally agrees there is only one China, but they’re not sure (read: deliberately ambiguous) whether Taiwan is part of it.

Fundamentally, while the PRC has been successful in preventing international recognition of the ROC (Taiwan), they do not control the territory and cannot control the territory without:

1. The ROC (Taiwanese) government agreeing to hand over power peacefully to the PRC.
2. A full-scale military invasion of Taiwan aimed at the surrender and/or destruction of the ROC (Taiwanese) government.

To compare the situation to Hong Kong, – the crucial difference is the People’s Republic of China did not need to roll in their military to fight some theoretical Hong Kong military in order to be able to tell Hong Kong what to do.

August 4, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia urged to prove it is a safe nuclear custodian as Aukus comes under scrutiny at UN.

Non-nuclear state Australia’s handling of nuclear-powered submarines will have to be ‘impeccable’, Australia Institute says

 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/aug/01/australia-urged-to-prove-it-is-a-safe-nuclear-custodian-as-aukus-comes-under-scrutiny-at-un Tory Shepherd, Mon 1 Aug 2022

Australia needs to step up in the fight to stop nuclear conflict, and to prove to the world it is a safe nuclear custodian, a new report argues.

The report by the Australia Institute comes ahead of a major global conference that starts on Monday in New York, where Australia’s Aukus submarine deal will come under scrutiny.

The report argues it is time to revive the UN non-proliferation treaty, which was struck after the Cuban missile crisis and in the midst of the cold war, and aims to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to achieve complete disarmament.

Allan Behm, the Australia Institute’s director of international and security affairs, said the treaty was “in trouble”. It was not just the “nuclear pariah states” and the nuclear threats from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in the context of the war in Ukraine, he said, but also the threat of a domino effect if the mainstream nuclear powers see no option but to follow other countries in nuclear expansion.

Australia should “play a truly constructive role in highly uncertain times”, Behm argued, and work with other countries on “verifiable disarmament”.

Separately, the UN has set up a taskforce to ensure Australia’s plan to buy nuclear powered submarines from either the US or the UK will not breach the treaty.

Aukus was formed in part to counter China’s rise in the region, and China has been fiercely critical of it. Now, two thinktanks linked to the Chinese government have accused Australia of harbouring a desire for nuclear weapons, and declared Aukus will trigger a nuclear arms race and violate the treaty because it will likely use weapons-grade uranium to power the boats.

A Dangerous Conspiracy: The nuclear proliferation risk of the nuclear-powered submarines collaboration in the context of Aukus was released by the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association and the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy.

“The Aukus nuclear-powered submarines collaboration is a serious violation of the object and purpose of the NPT, sets a dangerous precedent for the illegal transfer of weapons-grade nuclear materials from nuclear-weapon states to a non-nuclear-weapon state, and thus constitutes a blatant act of nuclear proliferation,” the report states.

China will attend the UN’s Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons alongside a 16-strong Australian delegation.

In disrupted times, with the treaty under pressure, a shoring up of the rules-based order is needed to avoid chaos, Behm said.

“This is nowhere truer than in the domain of nuclear arms control and disarmament, where the existential threat of humanity’s nuclear annihilation runs in parallel with the threats from global warming and pandemics,” he said.

“And in the case of nuclear disarmament and global warming, the major treaty that underpins global efforts has been undermined by the constant shift of the ‘middle ground’ away from high aspiration towards the lowest common denominator as key players erode the substance of earlier agreements.”

Australia is a non-nuclear state, but will acquire a fleet of submarines with nuclear reactors on board. The very nature of a reactor on a military vehicle makes it harder to monitor. The monitoring of all nuclear assets is critical to ensure enriched uranium is not diverted to weapons manufacturing.

If Australia gets the green light, other nations could use that precedent to argue for their own hard-to-monitor nuclear reactors (Iran already has).

This is why Australia’s handling of the situation will have to be “impeccable”, Behm said.

Australia has to let its diplomats function effectively and set policy targets to “regain the momentum on arms control and disarmament diplomacy that Australia displayed in previous decades”, he said.

“If it proceeds, Australia’s decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the auspices of the [Aukus] will require impeccable non-proliferation credentials on Australia’s part.”

Australia can help work towards disarmament via the comprehensive test ban treaty (which bans all nuclear weapons testing), a fissile material cut-off treaty (to reduce national stockpiles of enriched uranium or plutonium), a no first use declaration (don’t be first to pull the trigger) and negotiations to reduce arsenals and delivery systems.

Sixteen Australian officials will take part in the treaty conference, led by the Labor senator Tim Ayres. Australia’s arms control and counter-proliferation ambassador, Ian Biggs, will also be there, and it is understood that the test ban and fissile material treaties will be priorities.

“Australia’s delegation to the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will work over the four weeks of the meeting to address pressing nuclear proliferation challenges and advocate for practical steps towards nuclear disarmament,” a spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

July 31, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

French navy warns AUKUS nuclear submarine plan will be ‘much more difficult’ for Australia

By defence correspondent Andrew Greene. 29 July 22,

One of France’s most senior defence figures is warning Australia that acquiring nuclear submarines will be “much more difficult” than the now scrapped plan to build a new fleet of conventionally powered boats.

Key points:

  • French military chief Nicolas Vaujour was in Sydney for talks with Australian and US military leaders at the high-powered defence conference
  • Vice Admiral Vaujour says he was “surprised” at Australia’s decision to obtain nuclear-powered submarines
  • France proposed the two countries organise joint naval training drills

As both nations look to reset relations following the diplomatic fallout from last year’s AUKUS announcement, the French military’s Chief of Operations of the Joint Staff is signalling a “new era” of cooperation involving more naval exercises and cooperation.

Vice Admiral Nicolas Vaujour has travelled to Sydney for talks with Australian Defence Force Chief General Angus Campbell and other military leaders at the high-powered Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence (CHODs) Conference………………………………

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-07-29/french-navy-warns-aukus-nuclear-submarine-plan-will-be-much-more/101280638

July 30, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fleet of nuclear submarines will be sent by Britain to Australia as a threat to China

  • Britain is to send a fleet of nuclear submarines to Australia port of Perth 
  • Deployment is seen as a warning to China in the Asia-Pacific region 
  • Move is part of AUKUS (Australia, UK and United States) security alliance

 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11037405/Fleet-nuclear-submarines-sent-Britain-Australia-warning-China.html By DEFENCE EDITOR FOR THE DAILY MAIL, 22 July 2022,

Britain is to send a fleet of nuclear submarines to the Pacific in a decisive move to thwart Chinese aggression in the region.

The dramatic decision could see UK subs based in Australia until 2040, operating within striking distance of China.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the head of the Armed Forces, will agree the arrangement at a naval conference in Sydney next week. Assigning submarines to patrol the South China Sea will be Britain’s most assertive move yet against Beijing.

According to reports in Australia, Royal Navy submarines would be based at Perth on the country’s western coast and Australian submariners would be incorporated into British crews to improve their skills.

Basing the Royal Navy boats thousands of miles from UK shores is part of the AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and United States) security alliance.

AUKUS was set up last year primarily to confront Chinese military expansionism in the Indo-Pacific. Australia has become embroiled in a trade war and diplomatic stand-off with China. The deepening of defence ties with the UK is likely to cause further outrage with the Communist regime, which is vehemently opposed to AUKUS.

The Royal Navy declined to say last night how many of its submarines could be relocated to Australia, as all operational details surrounding Britain’s sub-surface fleet are classified.

The ‘Pacific tilt’ was signalled last year as part of the MoD’s Integrated Review.

The review set the target for the UK to become ‘the European partner with the broadest and most integrated presence in the Indo-Pacific’.

But given that China possesses the world’s biggest navy, some questioned the merits of such a deployment, arguing Britain’s boats would be massively outnumbered and outgunned.

Last night the MoD said: ‘It is UK policy that we do not comment on matters relating to submarine activity or operations.’

July 30, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nancy Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan – ‘Unprecedented, foolish, dangerous’ -says former Australian Prime Minister

Due to the sensitivity of travelling to Taiwan – which neither America nor Australia officially recognises diplomatically, no serving president, vice president or prime minister has visited the democratic island of 24 million people.

Unprecedented, foolish, dangerous’: Keating attacks Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan, The Age, By Eryk Bagshaw. July 25, 2022,

Singapore: Former prime minister Paul Keating has accused US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of inflaming tensions with Beijing and risking a military conflict by planning to visit Taiwan next month.

Pelosi, who sits behind President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in American political seniority, would be the highest-level serving US official to visit Taiwan since the White House established diplomatic ties with Beijing in 1979.

Keating said in a statement on Monday evening that it was hard to imagine “a more reckless and provocative act”.

“Across the political spectrum, no observer of the cross-straits relationship between China and Taiwan doubts that such a visit by the Speaker of the American Congress may degenerate into military hostilities,” he said.

“If the situation is misjudged or mishandled, the outcome for the security, prosperity and order of the region and the world (and above all for Taiwan) would be catastrophic.”………………………

Keating has been critical of US and Australian policy toward Beijing, arguing that Taiwan’s future was a civil matter for China, and it was not “a vital Australian interest”. But that argument has been resisted by the Coalition, Labor and Taipei which have developed stronger unofficial ties in the past decade through trade offices, while officially maintaining Australia’s “one-China policy”.

Due to the sensitivity of travelling to Taiwan – which neither America nor Australia officially recognises diplomatically, no serving president, vice president or prime minister has visited the democratic island of 24 million people.

Biden last week publicly rebuked Pelosi’s plans for the trip. “The military thinks it is not a good idea right now,” he said.

Keating said a visit by Pelosi would be “unprecedented – foolish, dangerous and unnecessary to any cause other than her own”.

“Over decades, countries like the United States and Australia have taken the only realistic option available on cross-strait relations. We encourage both sides to manage the situation in a way that ensures that the outcome for a peaceful resolution is always available,” he said.

“But that requires a contribution from us – calm, clear and sensitive to the messages being sent. A visit by Pelosi would threaten to trash everything that has gone before.”

The Financial Times, which first reported Pelosi’s plans to travel to Taiwan last week, said the Biden administration had been warned privately by Chinese officials about a potential military response to her visit. Pelosi has not publicly confirmed her plans, despite members of Congress being invited to travel with her.

There has been no official comment from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen or Foreign Minister Joseph Wu since the potential visit by Pelosi was first reported, highlighting the sensitivity of the situation………….
  https://www.theage.com.au/world/asia/unprecedented-foolish-dangerous-keating-attacks-pelosi-s-planned-trip-to-taiwan-20220725-p5b4g4.html

July 26, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Defence Minister Richard Marles is confident about AUKUS, nuclear submarines, and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Not everyone is so sure.

Australian National University emeritus professor of strategic studies Hugh White argues there are risks in making the AUKUS agreement at all.

In his new Quarterly Essay, Sleepwalk to War – Australia’s Unthinking Alliance with America, White warns it takes the alliance too far in the strategic contest with China.

Richard Marles on AUKUS nuclear safeguards , The Saturday Paper, By Karen Middleton. 23 Jul 22

” …………………………… “Non-proliferation was a condition of our support for AUKUS from the outset, when we were in opposition,” Marles says in an interview with The Saturday Paper, on his return from Washington, DC, this week.

While there, he discussed progress on the trilateral nuclear technology transfer agreement between Australia, Britain and the United States……..

The first non-nuclear country to seek nuclear-powered submarines, Australia will be required to sign a special International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreement. The document is likely to run to hundreds of pages, specifying in minute detail how the material will be handled – accounting for every gram – and with the tightest restrictions on its use. Amid some concern among international law specialists about exploiting existing treaty language around “peaceful use”, the wording will be designed to leave no wiggle room for more malign countries wanting to follow suit.

The greatest potential legal obstacles lie in the fact that the nuclear material is for use on a military platform. Australia’s lack of a nuclear power industry could be a reassurance, reducing the risk. Every aspect of the use and management of the enriched uranium – including in the event of an emergency – will need to be codified.

Marles says Labor’s party room will demand further assurances before consenting to move to the agreement’s next stage, which will involve the choice of future submarine design and how to resolve any capability gap in the meantime. He is confident the concerns can be addressed……………..

Navigating the non-proliferation safeguards with the IAEA is just one of the challenges for the new government in seeking to enact the monumental security agreement it has inherited.

Marles will not say if a Labor government would have taken the same decision as then prime minister Scott Morrison and his Defence minister Peter Dutton to dump the multibillion-dollar French contract for conventional submarines and switch to an American or British nuclear-powered option instead………………

“We have been supportive of the AUKUS agreement when it was announced, and we are supportive now.”

It’s clear that it wouldn’t have happened the same way, not least because of Labor’s volatile internal politics around nuclear energy.

In senior levels of the new government, there is a view that this is part of what motivated Morrison in pushing for the nuclear option to be sealed and announced with such haste. Some are convinced he believed it would wedge Labor on nuclear energy, an intergenerationally contentious issue within the party and particularly in Albanese’s Left faction.

……………….. in Labor’s upper ranks, suspicion about Morrison’s motivation raised further questions about the then prime minister’s attitude to national security.

Now in government, Labor is focused on bringing the wickedly complex submarine acquisition to completion and ensuring national security is not compromised any further along the way.

There’s a high pile of issues to be resolved before Australia has nuclear-powered submarines in the water. With the contract to buy up to 12 Attack-class submarines from France now scrapped in favour of the AUKUS agreement, the government has to decide whether to opt for the American Virginia-class boat or the British Astute-class alternative. While it hopes to get the first of whichever it chooses by the late 2030s, Marles has warned it could be the early 2040s.

That means filling the gap in the meantime.

With the existing six Collins-class submarines already extended from their initial retirement date of 2026 into the 2030s, there is a growing view in government that they will have to be extended again. What else may be required – in the form of some other possible stopgap purchase – is still unclear.

In an apparent bid to force Marles to clarify options, Peter Dutton wrote last month that he had planned to buy two American submarines to plug the capability gap. He said he had “formed a judgment that the Americans would have facilitated exactly that”.

The Saturday Paper understands that Dutton’s public commentary angered Britain, because of its presumption that Australia would choose the American option…………..

Just back from US consultations, Marles dismisses outright Dutton’s assertion about planning to buy two early American boats……………………

there are expensive decisions to be made with enormous consequences for Australia’s security.

By March next year, Marles wants to be able to announce which submarine he has chosen and when the first one will be in the water, quantify the capability gap and explain how it will be filled, outline the cost, describe industry arrangements for construction and detail the undertakings to be given to the IAEA to meet non-proliferation obligations. All this in the next eight months.

He has also vowed to produce a new force posture review in the wake of the 2020 Defence strategic update, which raised fresh questions about the strategic landscape in the region. …..

Delivering submarines makes AUKUS central to that. There is much debate on what else the agreement is meant to be and whether it makes Australia more or less dependent on the US.

In the AUKUS paperwork that has gone before the parliament so far, the submarine deal is described as its “first initiative”.

“AUKUS is about much more than submarines,” says Asia Society Australia executive director Richard Maude, who was foreign policy and security adviser to prime minister Julia Gillard and chief author of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

“AUKUS is a central platform for more co-operation and sharing of technologies that the Australian Defence Force wants.”

Maude says the issue is the nature of the submarines, not AUKUS. “The risk in AUKUS stems not from the agreement itself but from the decision to jump from a conventional to a nuclear-powered submarine.”

He points to concerning reports from the US that the Virginia-class submarine program’s production time line and costs are blowing out, raising further questions about delivery of an American boat.

“So, it’s not just our capability,” Maude says. “It’s our partner’s capability.”

Australian National University emeritus professor of strategic studies Hugh White argues there are risks in making the AUKUS agreement at all.

In his new Quarterly Essay, Sleepwalk to War – Australia’s Unthinking Alliance with America, White warns it takes the alliance too far in the strategic contest with China.

Maude says the issue is the nature of the submarines, not AUKUS. “The risk in AUKUS stems not from the agreement itself but from the decision to jump from a conventional to a nuclear-powered submarine.”

He points to concerning reports from the US that the Virginia-class submarine program’s production time line and costs are blowing out, raising further questions about delivery of an American boat.

“So, it’s not just our capability,” Maude says. “It’s our partner’s capability

Defence Minister Richard Marles downplays any broader binding role for AUKUS.

“AUKUS is not a security alliance. That’s not what it is,” he says. “Sharing capability and building technology – it doesn’t seek to be any more than that.”

Asked if it will mean an expansion of the US bases at Pine Gap or North West Cape, he would not comment…………………..

At the top of the decision pile for the “first initiative” is which submarine to buy. Neither the British nor the American version is exactly the right fit in size, crewing requirements or capability.

Whichever way they turn, the cost is horrendous at a time when the nation is a trillion dollars in debt…………………….

In Jakarta, there were assurances about respect, in the wake of Indonesian anger that it was not given an AUKUS heads-up. When AUKUS was announced last year, Indonesia said it intended at the next NPT review conference to seek to address what it calls the treaty’s “loophole” that would allow Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. Dealing with nuclear weapons, proliferation and “peaceful use”, the NPT does not specifically go to the issue of nuclear-powered vessels. Rescheduled from January, the conference is in the US next month.

The new government has also had to reassure the nations of the Pacific.

At the recent Pacific Islands Forum, secretary-general Henry Puna, from Cook Islands, presented a report on the South Pacific nuclear treaty, known as the Treaty of Rarotonga, and “other nuclear issues”. The Saturday Paper asked the forum secretariat this week for a copy of the report but did not receive a response before time of press.

Ahead of the forum – and after a visit from Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong – Samoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa voiced the concerns of some Pacific countries that they were not consulted on AUKUS.

Dr Tess Newton Cain, project leader of the Pacific hub at Griffith University, says there is some unhappiness about a US pattern of using Australia as a diplomatic and defence conduit instead of approaching Pacific nations directly.

“Some of this reflects a belief in the US administration and the US policy community that a good way of understanding the Pacific is to listen to Australia and New Zealand,” Cain says. “From the Pacific side of things, that’s not necessarily how people would see it.”

Overlaying that, Pacific nations have a heightened sensitivity to nuclear matters. Having been the unhappy historical hosts of nuclear testing, they’ve had their own experience with the mushroom cloud.  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2022/07/23/exclusive-richard-marles-aukus-nuclear-safeguards#mtr

July 23, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

AUKUS – contrived to foster the unrealistic and unattainable aims of American foreign policy

The wounded bison is thrashing about with its sole survival plan to wreck the China shop and it doesn’t care if it takes us with it. In fact, it is better to set Australia up as a primary target than Hawaii and the west coast of the US.

Anthony Albanese has not attempted to get his head around foreign relations, in particular China. He is stupidly relying on the people who advised Morrison. People like the head of ONI, the LNP favoured, Shearer and the US arms funded, ASPI. Neither should be allowed near a Labor government. They continue to push the LNP/AUKUS agenda.

 https://johnmenadue.com/aukus-contrived-to-foster-the-unrealistic-and-unattainable-aims-of-american-foreign-policy/ By Bruce Haigh, Jul 20, 2022 ,

In all of my experience, AUKUS is the worst example of abuse within the so-called American alliance.

It is a prescription for failure and considerable loss of face for Australia amongst its neighbours, friends in the region and more widely spread friends and trading partners. In fact, the region has shown no support for the proposal and indicated disquiet.

Involvement with the US in the disastrous Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars should have given cause for thought, but no, a supine media, lack of debate within academic institutions and amongst what remains of an intellectual class has seen the AUKUS proposal gain ‘acceptance’ by politicians without so much as question or query. And this in the complete absence of planning detail and cost analysis.

There has been a lot of poppycock about acquiring nuclear submarines and of having them built in Australia with a lead time to delivery of 20 to 30 years. Only child politicians and their puerile advisers would be prepared to swallow such rubbish. The submarine deal was always a smokescreen to get US nuclear armed submarines based in Australia. The so-called deal was a sop to public opinion and for the moment it has worked with a China hating, US loving, Murdoch led MSM. Where is the sense in spending over $200 billion in the face of a one Trillion-dollar debt? The money would be far better spent on health, education and infrastructure.

AUKUS is nothing more than a US takeover of northern Australia as an operational base against China. Australia has rolled over and the new Minister for Defence, Marles, has gone so far as to offer full integration of the ADF into US force structures.

The most appalling defence acquisition program over 20 years has left Australia without a viable fighting force. Whose decision was it to buy the upgraded version of the Abrams tank? As an ex-tank man, I can say the decision is entirely without merit and smacks of lining US pockets at Australian taxpayer’s expense. The US has a history of foisting rubbish on the ADF, such as the F35, and Australia under leaders such as the toadying and incompetent, John Howard, of rolling over and accepting them.

Instead of weeks, which the US proposed, Labor was given just 24 hours to consider the AUKUS ‘proposal’ by the devious Morrison; it agreed in order to avoid a wedge in the face of the election. Anthony Albanese agreed to something that he knows nothing about. And to prove it he continues to grind on about nuclear submarines.

The Americans thought they were very clever in dragging the British in on the deal. Anyone but the arrant, arrogant and colonial Johnson would have demurred. The UK in AUKUS is unlikely to survive the departure of the incompetent Johnson. The British east of the Suez is the material for jokes. After Brexit they are much reduced and once the Queen dies their prestige will be on sale in second hand shops. The US made a mistake in dragging the UK  in. They probably thought it would add some weight to their containment of China.

AUKUS is all about the US and its rivalry and competition with China. It wants to use what Australia has on offer, a base to confront, and when the time comes, to attack China. There is nothing in it for Australia. We are not threatened by China. It is and should remain a major trading partner.

The wounded bison is thrashing about with its sole survival plan to wreck the China shop and it doesn’t care if it takes us with it. In fact, it is better to set Australia up as a primary target than Hawaii and the west coast of the US.

Darwin will become the centre of a US centre monitoring (controlling) all sea and air movements in a wide zone embracing much of the north of Australia with what will be termed a joint operations command. Tindal is being expanded along with Stirling in order to take US arms and delivery vehicles.

The QUAD is a quad in name only. India with its strong ties to Russia was never in it beyond the extent of Modi’s ego. South Korea and Japan will always play their own game depending on who is in power in Washington and Beijing. NATO moving into the so-called Indo-Pacific is little more than a US induced wet dream on the part of Stoltenberg who has absorbed nothing of Nordic notions of social justice and dialogue. No doubt the US is pleased with the NATO announcement seeing further China containment as having been achieved.

Anthony Albanese fans the fires of AUKUS with incomprehensible talk of submarines and staying in step with allies but much more so with his inflammatory statements about China.  Penny Wong has outdistanced her Coalition predecessor by leagues. She took on the very difficult task of rebuilding the relationship with China after the oafishness of Morrison and Payne over Wuhan and Covid. She is succeeding. She has deployed a nuance which is a pleasure to watch She has brought her considerable intelligence to bear. She has been subtle and tough minded. She is the person of the moment. Australia got what it needed.

Not so with Anthony Albanese. He has done his best to wreck Wong’s good work.  He talks of the continuing danger posed by China, forgetting the AUKUS takeover. He says China has changed and we haven’t? What does he think Morrison did? He trashed twenty years of relationship building, including a most successful visit to Australia by Xi Jinping in November 2014. And he and Dutton banged the drums of war as an election ploy.

Anthony Albanese has not attempted to get his head around foreign relations, in particular China. He is stupidly relying on the people who advised Morrison. People like the head of ONI, the LNP favoured, Shearer and the US arms funded, ASPI. Neither should be allowed near a Labor government. They continue to push the LNP/AUKUS agenda.

Penny Wong is not in that camp, which is lucky for the rest of the country. Albanese must learn to do his own thinking and to find the courage to sack and distance himself from the pernicious influence of Morrison’s dangerous and undermining advisers.

July 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s price tag for nuclear submarines could soar by $billions

AFR Andrew Tillett, Political correspondentJul 20, 2022

New US government reports warn that Australia could be saddled with billions of dollars of higher costs to build the most up-to-date nuclear submarines, and have cast fresh doubts on America’s defence industry being able to contribute to a speedy acquisition of boats.

Defence Minister Richard Marles wants to announce a preferred design and acquisition pathway in the first quarter of next year, but the Congressional Research Service said the US Navy’s Virginia class submarine program was suffering from construction delays and a maintenance backlog, curtailing the availability of boats already in service…………………………….. (subscribers only)
more https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/australia-s-price-tag-for-nuclear-submarines-could-soar-by-billions-20220719-p5b2p7

July 19, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Global action urged to block AUKUS plan on transfer of nuclear materials

The submarine purchase, if realized, “will be the first time” after the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty went into force in 1970 that nuclear weapon states transfer tons of weapons-grade nuclear materials to a non-nuclear-weapon state

The plan is high on the agenda of the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which is scheduled to open in New York on Aug 1 http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202207/21/WS62d898fda310fd2b29e6d83a.html By ZHANG YUNBI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-07-21,

A report written by leading Chinese nuclear security researchers urged the global community to use an upcoming global conference on nuclear nonproliferation to deter the collaboration of the United States and the United Kingdom to transfer weapons-grade nuclear materials through nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

“The weapons-grade nuclear materials to be transferred to Australia by the two countries would be sufficient to build as many as 64 to 80 nuclear weapons,” said Zhao Xuelin, a leading engineer at the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy.

Such a move would be in “serious violation” of the objectives and purpose of the nonproliferation treaty and would cause enormous harm, he said.

“Washington has been busy building up blocs and small circles like AUKUS to shore up its overwhelming advantage in military areas and secure its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific and the whole world,” said Liu Chong, director of the Institute of International Security of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“Such moves have run counter to many countries’ need to seek common security. The trilateral bloc’s members seek their own security at the cost of the other countries, sabotaging global security,” he added.

Zhang Yan, president of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, noted that the AUKUS partnership is a new political and military alliance that serves the US’ “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, which aims to provoke regional confrontation and step up a geopolitical zero-sum game.

The submarine purchase, if realized, “will be the first time” after the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty went into force in 1970 that nuclear weapon states transfer tons of weapons-grade nuclear materials to a non-nuclear-weapon state, Zhang said.

“The US, the UK and Australia should seriously respond to the concerns of the international community and earnestly fulfill their obligations under international law,” he added.

Pan Qilong, chairman of the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy, said the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine collaboration sets a dangerous example of illegal transfer of weapons-grade nuclear materials.

Such a “blatant act of nuclear proliferation” has triggered widespread concern and criticism from the international community, he added

The US, Britain and Australia should “stop taking double standards” and halt their collaboration on nuclear-powered submarines, said the research report issued on Wednesday in Beijing.

Two leading Chinese nuclear research agencies-the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association and the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy-issued the report.

“The international community should take action to urge the AUKUS countries to revoke their wrong decision, and jointly safeguard the integrity, authority and effectiveness of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime,” the report said.

The research report is the first of its kind made by Chinese think tanks focused on the collaboration of the three nations, and it offers abundant evidence and data to prove how the AUKUS countries-Australia, the UK and the US-affect the international nuclear nonproliferation system and stir up the arms race, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday.

The report is the latest proof that the international community’s concerns on AUKUS collaboration “are well-founded by facts”, he added.

Washington, London and Canberra built the AUKUS trilateral security partnership last year. That prompted anger within and outside the Asia-Pacific region as they announced a plan to allow Australia to purchase nuclear-powered submarines from the UK.

The plan is high on the agenda of the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which is scheduled to open in New York on Aug 1.

The conference, a top-level global meeting that aims to prevent a nuclear arms race and checks on the status quo of nuclear materials around the world, has been delayed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

July 19, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Documents show Australian Labor government supports Assange’s extradition to the US

as far as the Labor government is concerned, Assange’s extradition is a done deal.

the greatest mistake defenders of Assange could make would be to harbour illusions that Labor will act to free the WikiLeaks founder.

as far as the Labor government is concerned, Assange’s extradition is a done deal.

 the greatest mistake defenders of Assange could make would be to harbour illusions that Labor will act to free the WikiLeaks founder.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/07/18/rqbf-j18.html Oscar Grenfell @Oscar_Grenfell, 18 July 22,

Documents obtained by lawyer Kellie Tranter and published on the Declassified Australia website cast a damning light on the Australian Labor government’s role in facilitating the continued imprisonment of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange and his extradition to the US.

The material gives the lie to the claims of Labor supporters that the newly-elected government may be seeking to secure Assange’s freedom through backroom diplomacy, despite the refusal of Labor ministers to condemn the attempted US extradition and prosecution.

They show that Labor is willing to let Assange be sent to the US, despite doctors and his family warning that it would be a death sentence. A successful extradition would also set a sweeping precedent for attacks on journalists and political dissidents globally.  

Assange faces 17 charges under the Espionage Act, and 175 years imprisonment, for publishing true information exposing massive US-led war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tranter, a longstanding legal advisor to Assange, has for many years filed freedom of information requests aimed at acquiring official documents revealing the role of Australian governments in the persecution of Assange. Those released by Declassified Australia are the first she has published since the Labor government was installed after the May 21 federal election.

The two documents are redacted. What is present, however, gives a sufficient picture of Labor’s acquiescence to Assange’s extradition, and the cynical, duplicitous character of the ambiguous public statements its leading representatives have made.

The first are internal “talking points” prepared for Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on June 2. It is entitled: “Julian Assange – International Transfer of Prisoners process – talking points and background.” Its heading indicates the central preoccupation of the document, which states:

“Prisoner transfers cannot be agreed between governments in advance of a person being a prisoner (after a criminal trial, conviction and sentencing) in a particular country, and require the consent of the prisoner;  

“International prisoner transfers to Australia are initiated by an application from a prisoner after the prisoner has been convicted and sentenced;  

“If surrendered, convicted and sentenced in the US, Assange could apply under the ITP scheme to serve his sentence in Australia;”

In other words, Assange is to be extradited to the US, where the former Trump administration and the CIA plotted to kidnap or assassinate him from London in 2017, before settling on a pseudo-legal criminal indictment. He would be hauled before a kangaroo court in the District of Virginia, with a jury stacked by the very same CIA officers and their relatives. The hearings would proceed in secret and Assange’s detention regime would be one of total isolation.

With this hanging over his head, the document suggests that perhaps Assange will feel compelled to plead guilty to the “crime” of journalism revealing the illegal killings of civilians, torture and other violations of international law.  

Tranter notes that following a redacted section, the document continues: “However, the UK High Court’s judgment does note that the US has provided an assurance that they will consent to Mr Assange being transferred to Australia to serve any custodial sentence on him if he is convicted.”

The US “assurances” are not worth the paper they are written on. Their sole aim was to overcome an earlier British court ruling, which found that Assange’s extradition would be “oppressive” because of his deep on-going health issues and the horrific conditions in which he would be held in a US prison.

The assurances, accepted by a British High Court as bona fide last October, asserted that Assange’s conditions of detention would not be as bad as his lawyers claimed. But those very assurances made plain that the intelligence agencies, including the CIA, would have complete control over the circumstances of Assange’s imprisonment, which could be changed at any time.

The second, June 8 document, is a “ministerial submission,” entitled “Julian Assange – extradition request from the United States to the United Kingdom.” It recommends that Dreyfus “note” the situation confronting Assange, in the lead up to an announcement by British Home Secretary Priti Patel on whether she would approve extradition. Several weeks later, Patel gave her green light.    

The submission to Dreyfus bluntly stated: “The UK Home Secretary is due to make a final decision on Mr Assange’s extradition to the US by 20 June. Mr Assange will have one final avenue of appeal with the leave of the High Court, otherwise he must be extradited within 28 days of the Secretary of State’s decision.”

And again: “If Mr Assange is extradited, convicted and sentenced in the US, he may apply for transfer to Australia under the International Transfer of Prisoner’s Scheme. This will require the consent of the US and Australian authorities.  

“The UK High Court’s judgment notes that the US has provided an assurance that it will consent to Mr Assange being transferred to Australia to serve any custodial sentence imposed on him if he is convicted.”

Later on, the document stated: “‘If Mr Assange is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in the US, it will be possible for him to apply under the ITP scheme to serve the remainder of his sentence in Australia. A transfer would also require the consent of the US, the Australian Government (through you as Attorney-General), and the relevant minister in the state into whose prison Mr Assange would be transferring.  

“In making any such decision, the department would provide you with advice on factors such as the extent to which the transfer would assist the prisoner’s rehabilitation, sentence enforcement, community safety and any relevant humanitarian considerations, in addition to any conditions of transfer required by the US.’”

In other words, as far as the Labor government is concerned, Assange’s extradition is a done deal.

 Also striking is the fact that the documents do not countenance the possibility that he would be found “not guilty” in a US court. The entire thrust of the two documents is that the extradition and successful prosecution have already been stitched up, in a conspiracy involving the British government, the UK courts, the American authorities and the Labor administration.

Once Assange were in the US, moreover, the documents acknowledge that any “prison transfer” would be dependent upon the acquiescence of the American government whose President, Joe Biden, has previously branded Assange as a “high-tech terrorist.” A prison transfer, even in the unlikely event that it occurred, would mean years more of Assange’s incarceration, in Britain, the US and then Australia.

The contempt of the government for Assange is summed up by the reference to “factors such as the extent to which the transfer would assist the prisoner’s rehabilitation.” Assange does not need to be rehabilitated. He is a heroic journalist who has done a major service to humanity. It is the war criminals he has exposed who need to be placed in an institution.

Obviously it is unknown what is contained in the redacted section. It may deal with the elephant in the room, which is excluded from the rest of the documents. Assange’s doctors, lawyers and family have all testified that the WikiLeaks founder would take his life if he were to be extradited to the US. That judgment was effectively upheld by the British District Court, before it was overturned on the basis of the bogus US assurances.


All of the talk about “prison transfers” and the like is therefore window dressing for what would amount to a death sentence.

The documents reveal the sinister character of statements by Labor leaders, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Dreyfus, that the Assange case has ‘gone on for too long,” and “needs to be brought to a close.” When asked by journalists, each has refused to elaborate on what this precisely means.

One thing that is entirely absent from the documents is any suggestion that Labor has so much as suggested the US government drop the charges against Assange and end the extradition proceedings. The continuation of the judicial frame-up and victimisation is taken as given.

The documents vindicate the warnings of the Socialist Equality Party that the greatest mistake defenders of Assange could make would be to harbour illusions that Labor will act to free the WikiLeaks founder.

The 2010-2013 Gillard Labor government initiated Australia’s collaboration with the persecution of Assange. Gillard slandered Assange by falsely claiming that he had broken Australian laws. Assange publicly accused Gillard and other senior ministers of secretly collaborating with the American state against him and other Australian citizens associated with WikiLeaks.

Those actions were bound up with the Gillard government’s full-throated support for the “pivot to Asia,” a vast military build-up aimed at preparing for an aggressive US-led war against China.

A decade on and the military preparations are far advanced. The new Labor government is functioning as an attack dog of the Biden administration throughout the region. Last week, during a visit to Washington, Defence Minister Richard Marles hailed the US-Australia alliance as “unbreakable,” as he outlined a further massive military-build up.

The documents confirm that the fight for Assange’s freedom requires a political struggle by the working class, the social constituency for democratic rights, against the Labor government and all of its defenders. A Labor government will only intervene diplomatically and legally to free Assange, if it is forced to do so by a mass movement from below.

July 19, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, Resources | Leave a comment

China Reaffirms Support for ASEAN’s Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone

 https://jakartaglobe.id/news/china-reaffirms-support-for-aseans-nuclear-weaponfree-zone BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA. JULY 11, 2022

Jakarta. China recently pledged to take its ties with ASEAN to greater heights, among others, by backing the Southeast Asian bloc’s nuclear-weapon-free treaty.

China reaffirmed its readiness to ink the protocol to the treaty when its senior diplomat Wang Yi visited the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on Monday. 

“We will continue to support ASEAN’s efforts in building a nuclear-weapon-free zone and reaffirm that China is ready to sign the protocol to the Treaty of Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone at any time,” Wang Yi said at the ASEAN Secretariat.

According to Wang Yi, over the past years, China has made several historic milestones in its ties with ASEAN, among others, in regard to the country’s support to help keep the Southeast Asian region free of nuclear arms. 

“[China was] the first to publicly express its willingness to sign the protocol to the Southeast Asia nuclear-weapon-free zone,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.


In 1995, the ten ASEAN member states, including Indonesia, agreed to a nuclear weapons moratorium treaty known as the Bangkok Treaty. 

The protocol for this treaty is open for signature by the five nuclear-weapon states recognized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, namely China, France, the UK, the US, and Russia.

The protocol obliges its signatories not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons within the zone or against any state party to the treaty. To date, none of the nuclear-weapon states has penned the protocol. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to sign the protocol as early as possible. Xi Jinping made this commitment at last year’s China-ASEAN Special Summit, which marked the 30th anniversary of dialogue relations between the two sides.

July 12, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Why Australia’s Labor government refuses to defend Julian Assange

WSWS Oscar Grenfell@Oscar_Grenfell, 6 July 22, When the Labor Party scraped into office following the May 21 federal election, some supporters of Julian Assange voiced hopes that the new government would defend the WikiLeaks publisher because he is an Australian journalist and citizen undergoing persecution abroad.

The crudest and most thoughtless expression of these hopes came in the form of an update to a petition demanding that the Australian government act to free Assange. Over the course of almost three years, the petition has been signed by more than 730,000 people, and has served as an important focal point for the latent, mass support that exists for Assange.

But on July 4, the petition’s founder declared that it was no longer necessary to issue any demands on the Australian government. The sole evidence provided was that Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had purportedly signed the petition, and that some members of the government have hinted that it may engage in “quiet diplomacy” on behalf of Assange. “Now that we confirm that the Prime Minister of Australia is one of us and together with all of our collective 731,000 Signatories to this petition we will together move forward with direct representations to the responsible Public Officers in both the USA and Britain,” the update declared.

It was necessary to “understand that the Australian Government does have a right to negotiate the matter of freedom of Julian Assange in the best way they see to secure his freedom… We do not intend to work against any action being taken in different ways by any individual Signatory”—i.e., Albanese.

“[W]e will move forward in a peaceful, harmonious and inclusive manner,” the update declared, that is with regards to the Labor government.

To be blunt, such statements are exercises in wilful delusion. Since forming government, Labor has not issued anything that even could be described as weasel-words in support of Assange. Its attitude towards the WikiLeaks publisher is barely concealed hostility.

The greatest mistake defenders of Assange could make would be to allow a right-wing pro-war Labor government to lead them around by the nose. Such a course would serve to demobilise the mass backing that Assange has among workers and young people, and create the political conditions required for Labor to bury his plight and ensure that extradition from Britain to the US proceeds without hindrance.

The petition update promoted the latest comments on Assange by a member of the government. In an Australian Broadcasting Corporation “Law Report” radio program on June 28, Labor’s Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus again stated that the Assange case had “gone on for too long.” It was this comment that was highlighted on the petition.

But what, of substance, did Dreyfus actually say?

Introducing the subject of Assange, midway through the interview, the host noted warnings that the attempted US prosecution of Assange would set a dangerous precedent of US law being imposed globally.

Assange, an Australian citizen, is facing prosecution in the US, for documents he published while in Europe, exposing American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Citing Assange legal advisor Greg Barns, the interviewer asked if Dreyfus was troubled by this attempt to extend the reach of American legislation to an Australian citizen with no legal connection to the US?

The attorney-general brushed the question aside. “The United States has long legislated in an extra-territorial way and I think that all other countries have understood that for a long time,” he said. In other words, the US government can do what it likes.

Dreyfus continued: “It is not open to the Australian government to directly interfere with either the jailing of Mr Assange in the United Kingdom or the extradition request that has been made by the United States.”

As with all other Labor ministers, Dreyfus presented Assange’s imprisonment and threatened extradition as a bona fide, lawful procedure. But Assange’s detention, in a maximum-security British prison, without conviction, has been denounced by outgoing United Nations Rapporteur Nils Melzer as state torture.

The US extradition effort is akin to a pseudo-legal lynching. Assange is to be imprisoned, for 175 years, under the draconian Espionage Act, for publishing true information revealing the illegal actions of the American government. Such an operation recalls dissidents being hurled into a dungeon cell, with the key thrown away, during medieval times.

Credible allegations are now on the public record, moreover, that the Trump administration and the CIA discussed kidnapping or assassinating Assange in 2017, before filing an indictment and an extradition request.

Dreyfus again made reference to the possibility of diplomatic representations on Assange’s behalf.

In a highly revealing exchange, the interviewer noted: “The government has said it would like to see this matter brought to an end, but hasn’t exactly said how it would prefer it to come to an end.” Would the government seek to have the charges against Assange dropped in the United States? she asked. “I am not going to canvas what will be the resolution of this case,” Dreyfus replied.

In other words, the attorney-general’s vague statements are worthless. Why would anyone believe that a government minister, who will not even state publicly that the charges against Assange should be dropped, would be fighting for his freedom behind closed doors?

Dreyfus’ vague references to “representations” are like a bone to a hungry dog, meant to placate Assange’s supporters, as is the cloak and dagger operation of Albanese possibly signing the petition.

The real position of Labor has been spelled out by two of its most prominent leaders, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles.

Marles stated last month: “This is a matter for the United Kingdom. Like any Australian citizen facing legal proceedings abroad, he will be provided consular assistance.”

The position is identical to that of the previous Liberal-National Coalition government. Consular support means monitoring the extradition case and the decline of Assange’s health. It is the antithesis of a diplomatic and political intervention to free Assange.

For his part, Albanese has sought to dodge the issue of Assange for the past six weeks. He refuses to mention the WikiLeaks founder’s name, even when directly questioned about the topic. The only passionate comments he has made on the case were in an angry denunciation of Twitter users calling on the Labor government to take action.

It is hardly a mystery why Labor refuses to defend Assange.

The primary focus of the new government has been a foreign policy blitz, orchestrated in the closest of collaboration with the Biden administration, which is seeking Assange’s extradition.

Wong and Albanese have been on one foreign visit after another, seeking to shore-up US dominance in the Indo-Pacific, and to further American imperialism’s confrontation with China, which threatens nuclear war.

The highpoint came last week, when Albanese attended the NATO summit in Madrid. There, he gave full support to a new NATO doctrine, which labels Russia and China as threats and calls on member states to prepare “for high-intensity, multi-domain warfighting against nuclear-armed peer-competitors.”

The persecution of Assange is retribution for his exposure of past war crimes. But it is also a preparation for new, and even greater crimes, associated with these US-led plans for what is nothing short of a global war. The aim is to intimidate the mass anti-war sentiment that exists among workers and young people, and to establish a precedent for further frame-ups and victimisations. The Labor government is fully committed to Washington’s war measures, so it is hostile to Assange. …………………………  https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/07/07/isae-j07.html?fbclid=IwAR0KI1GXMtRjNi5gMnnDCcCiFsGuXMVqQKQcD1XNx2edJay1aEwTdLlSzmI

July 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand’s no-nuclear line on AUKUS subs met with ‘understanding and appreciation’ in Australia

ABC NEWS, 7 July 22, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reaffirmed her country’s long-standing policy of not allowing nuclear-powered vessels in its waters, saying the rule was well understood in Australia.

Key points:

  • Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand will continue to take a “strong, principled position” on its nuclear-free zone
  • New Zealand banned ships with nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered vessels in its waters in 1987
  • Ms Ardern says New Zealand’s defence policy would remain focused on the Pacific 

Asked by 7.30 host Sarah Ferguson if there were “any circumstances” in which an Australian nuclear-propelled submarine might dock in a New Zealand port in the future, Ms Ardern said the policy was set.

“But, actually, you know, I’ve only ever encountered understanding and appreciation of that position,” she said.

“We’ve taken a strong, principled position and we’ll continue to do so. That doesn’t change the relationship we have with Australia or their understanding of our position.”

Ms Ardern has been in Australia this week for her second meeting with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as well as meetings with state premiers………………………………….

A question of neutrality

Ms Ardern was also asked about a recent security pact struck between Solomon Islands and China, which some analysts warn could provide a pretext for the basing of Chinese troops or vessels in the Pacific Island nation.

The Solomon Islands government has repeatedly ruled out a military base.

…….. “We believe that escalation in our region and a militarisation in our region is not necessary, not called for, and not wanted. So we’re very clear on that.”

Asked if New Zealand would join Australia in increasing its defence capability in response to China’s military expansion, Ms Ardern said it was up to Australia to explain its own rationale for its defence strategy.

New Zealand’s defence policy would remain “Pacific-focused”, she said………………..

“It is not for New Zealand, or Australia, to dictate the relationships that Pacific Island neighbours have with others.”

She said China pursuing closer ties with Pacific Island nations was not a new phenomenon and that Solomon Islands had been on a “trajectory” of closer links with Beijing over a “number of years”. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-07-07/jacinda-ardern-new-zealand-nuclear-policy-met-with-understanding/101216094

July 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment