Pine Gap is more than a giant electronic vacuum cleaner. The facility is also involved in tactical warfare, through programs like “The Red Dot Express”.
More controversial is Pine Gap’s role in drone strikes.
Instead of trying to pump up hysteria over a non-existent North Korean missile strike, The Turnbull Government should take a hard look at the very real threat that Pine Gap and Northwest Cape pose to Australia.
Pine Gap is still there — bigger and badder than ever, Independent Australia Norm Sanders 25 April 2017 With Donald Trump putting a blowtorch to the Cold War, it is time to take another look at all the U.S. bases in Australia, including Pine Gap, writes Dr Norm Sanders.
PINE GAP, Northwest Cape and Nurrungar were the focus of the Australian Peace Movement in the 1980’s. Then the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock crept slowly away from midnight and the removal of the bases didn’t seem so urgent. The clamour to close the bases died down………
I actually knew quite a bit about what Pine Gap was up to at the time, but it was child’s play compared to what they are doing at present. A simple place to start is Pine Gap’s assumption of the function of Nurrungar in 1999. Nurrungar was located at Island Lagoon, Woomera and was crucial to America’s defenses during the Cold War. Nurrungar furnished “Launch on Warning” surveillance of ICBM or other rocket launches anywhere on the globe. Analysts regarded it as one of the USSR’s top ten targets.
Now, Pine Gap has probably surpassed Nurrungar in the rankings. It is one of the largest satellite ground stations in the world, with over 33 satellite antennas. Pine Gap houses a number of U.S. Government agencies, such as the National Reconnaissance Office (spy satellites,) the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the Geospatial-intelligence Agency. In addition, all branches of the U.S. Military are represented. Continue reading
North Korea highlights 1250 US marines in Darwin to claim America is preparing for nuclear war, SMH, Kirsty Needham, James Massola, 25 Apr 17,
North Korea’s state newspaper has singled out the United States’ deployment of 1250 marines to Darwin to claim America is preparing for nuclear war.
And as regional tensions escalate and a US carrier strike group approaches the Korean peninsula, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the secretive regime “must be stopped” as it represented a threat to the region and, potentially, globally.
In a phone call with US president Donald Trump, Chinese president Xi Jinping said China opposed any actions that went against UN security council resolutions, as Japan confirmed it was joining drills with the strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson that is headed to Korean waters.
Pusan National University associate professor Robert Kelly told Fairfax Media North Korea’s missiles might have the range to reach northern Australia, but played down the threat as “the question is guidance, not range”.
Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, highlighted the US marines’ arrival in northern Australia on April 18. The marines will be joined by 12 military helicopters including five Cobra helicopters and four Osprey carriers.
“This is the largest scale US military presence in Australia after World War 2,” the newspaper reported on Monday. “America is fanatically, crazily trying to optimise its nuclear war readiness,” it claimed.
The story, on page six of the North Korean newspaper, was headlined: America prepares for nuclear war in different overseas military deployments. Darwin was the only city named…….
Australia-based defence experts believe it is unlikely North Korea has the capacity to strike Australia yet, though they may do within the next three years. The nation’s most recent missile test, earlier this month, failed just seconds after launch…….
The deployment of 1250 marines is the largest to Darwin since the former prime minister Julia Gillard and former president Barack Obama struck a deal back in 2011 to undertake the yearly rotation of troops.
‘In three years’: N Korea making missiles which ‘could hit Australia’ on April 24, 2017, North Korea could potentially hit Australia with one of its under-development intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) within the next three years, according to military experts………
http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-letters/north-korea-by-opposing-un-we-have-increased-insecurity-20170425-gvs00p.html Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has excoriated North Korea for squandering vast resources on weapons of mass destruction instead of meeting the basic needs of its citizens. Yet in recent years, Ms Bishop has argued stridently against the global prohibition on nuclear weapons, believing that US nuclear forces are essential for Australia’s security and prosperity.
It is on this basis that she decided to boycott a major UN nuclear disarmament process that began in March – potentially violating Australia’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. More than 130 nations are part of these historic negotiations, the success of which is vital to our collective security. While this process will not result immediately in a denuclearised Korean Peninsula, that goal will be more readily achieved in a world moving towards disarmament. By opposing this UN effort and encouraging the US to bolster its nuclear arsenal, Australia has very much contributed to the global insecurity we now face.
North Korea issues nuclear warning to Australia, Camden Narellan Advertiser , 23 Apr 2017 Beijing: North Korea’s foreign ministry has lashed out at Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and warned Australia was “coming within the range of the nuclear strike”. The threats were reported by the North Korean state news agency KCNA as being made on Friday, in response to a radio interview given by Ms Bishop.
According to a translation of the KCNA report, which was dated Friday, the same day US Vice-President Mike Pence arrived in Australia, Ms Bishop had said in the radio interview that North Korea seriously threatens regional peace and she supports the US policy that “all options are on the table”.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of North Korea – officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – was quoted as saying: “The present government of Australia is blindly and zealously toeing the US line. It is hard to expect good words from the foreign minister of such government.”….
“If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the US master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK.”….
The KCNA report continued: “The Australian foreign minister had better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday pledged support for the US policy on North Korea and again urged China to do more to place economic pressure on North Korea.
China has turned back coal shipments to North Korea in recent weeks, one of the regime’s few sources of funding. Chinese media have speculated the Chinese government is also considering cutting oil supplies.
There are renewed concerns that North Korea may conduct its sixth nuclear test on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of its military, and China said this week it was “gravely concerned”.
China’s official People’s Daily newspaper on Saturday evening reported online that new satellite images of the North Korean nuclear test site had shown probable new trailer activity, citing US research website 38 North. http://www.camdenadvertiser.com.au/story/4614177/north-korea-issues-nuclear-warning-to-australia/?cs=5
North Korea warns of nuclear strike against Australia: Turnbull tight-lipped about joining any USA military action.
- N Korean accuses Australia of “spouting a string of rubbish” about isolated regime
- Spokesman said Julie Bishop could “never be pardoned” for saying North Korea’s nukes were a threat to Australia
- Comments coincide with Mike Pence’s visit to Australia
The comments came after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier this week said on the ABC’s AM program that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program posed a “serious threat” to Australia unless it was stopped by the international community.
A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry accused Australia of “spouting a string of rubbish” about the isolated regime, and warned against following the US.
“The present Government of Australia is blindly and zealously toeing the US line,” the spokesman said. “If Australia persists in following the US’ moves to isolate and stifle North Korea … this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of North Korea.”
The North Korean Foreign Ministry also directly addressed Ms Bishop’s interview, warning she had “better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US”. What she uttered can never be pardoned,” the spokesman said. “It is hard to expect good words from the Foreign Minister of such a government. But if she is the Foreign Minister of a country, she should speak with elementary common sense about the essence of the situation.”
“Mr Prime Minister, know that President Trump and I are truly grateful to you for calling on China even this week to play an even more active and constructive role in addressing the North Korean threat.”
Mr Pence would not rule out the use of military force in North Korea, repeating “all options are on the table”, but stressed the US was focused on diplomacy at this stage.
Mr Turnbull meanwhile said it was “self-evident” China had the capacity to bring more pressure to bear on North Korea.
But he brushed off questions about whether Australia would join any military strike on the regime in the future..….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-22/north-korea-accuses-australia-of-blindly-following-the-us/8464252
Effusive (?nauseating) meeting as Trump’s Vice President visits Australia, seeks support for attack on North Korea
Mike Pence in Australia says US and allies ready to tackle North Korea Vice-president and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull call on China to apply pressure but stress regime’s nuclear aims cannot be tolerated, Guardian, Ben Doherty, 22 Apr 17, All options including military action are “on the table” to deal with the threat of North Korean nuclear weapons, Mike Pence has said during a trip to Australia. But the US vice-president stressed he expects China to bring its influence to bear against the regime’s nuclear ambitions.
Pence said three times during a press conference with the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, that “all options are on the table” and refused to rule out military action against the recalcitrant nuclear-armed regime.
“While all options are on the table, let me assure you the US will continue to work closely with Australian and our other allies in the region, and with China, to bring economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on the regime in Pyongyang until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile program,” Pence said.
“But if China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States and our allies will.”
Pence’s rhetoric was a continuation of the bombastic line he has run throughout his swing through the Asia-Pacific, visiting South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and finally, Australia.
He said a generation of “strategic patience” with the North Korean regime, under Kim Jong-Il and then his son, Kim Jong-un, had failed utterly and the Trump administration was determined to pressure North Korea to stop developing nuclear weapons.
“The era of strategic patience is over,” he reiterated.
North Korea has accused the US of warmongering on the Korean peninsula, saying the Trump administration was creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment”……
The White House suffered acute embarrassment this week after Donald Trump boasted he had sent an “armada” to the Sea of Japan as a warning to North Korea.
The USS Carl Vinson strike group was in fact more than 5,000km from the Korean peninsula and headed in the opposite direction. The ships were hastily turned around.
Pence said the group was now headed for waters off the Korean peninsula and would be in the Sea of Japan within days, “before the end of the month”.
The issue of North Korea dominated Pence’s meeting with Turnbull and the foreign minister, Julie Bishop……..
Pence also hinted at a presidential visit this year, saying he expected Trump to visit the Asia-Pacific “in the fall”, Australia’s spring.
A visit by the US president to the region could be reasonably expected to include a stopover at its closest and most steadfast ally in the region.
The joint press conference between Turnbull and Pence was full of the usual lavish bilateral praise that accompanies a US leader’s visit to Australia. Turnbull praised the “Pax Americana” provided by long-standing US interest and intervention in the Pacific.
“And the US understand that they have no stronger, more committed, more loyal partner, ally than Australia.”
Pence said the US had no more steadfast ally than Australia, particularly in conflict, noting that Australia had fought alongside the US in every major war of the last century. “From the Coral Sea to Kandahar our friendship has been forged in the fires of sacrifice.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/22/mike-pence-in-australia-says-us-and-allies-ready-to-tackle-north-korea
U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence Is En Route To Australia Malcolm Turnbull says the visit shows the United States’ commitment to Australia is ‘very real’. Huffington Post As tensions threaten to boil over between the United States and North Korea, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence is en route to Australia in a visit expected to focus on regional security and trade.
Arriving in Sydney on Friday night, Pence will spend two days in Sydney as one of the final legs in his whirlwind tour of Asia which began last Saturday.
The growing tensions on the Korean peninsula, America-China relations and the remaining trade barriers between Australia and the world power are expected to feature prominently in talks between Pence and Australian political figures.
Pence’s visit to Australia so early on in Trump’s Presidency was evidence of our importance as an international ally to the US, Malcom Turnbull told ABC’s 7:30 on Thursday night.
“I believe this is the earliest visit by a Vice President to Australia,” Turnbull said……
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop invited Pence to visit Australia when they met in Washington in February. She has been vocal about the need for the US to become more involved in Asia. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/04/20/u-s-vice-president-mike-pence-is-en-route-to-australia_a_22048424/
Parliamentary Committee considering if Australia should be involved in making Generation IV nuclear reactors
The gift of the ‘GIF’: Generation IV International Forum, Independent Australia, 19 April 2017 The Turnbull Government has quietly signed Australia up to the GIF Framework Agreement for the development of Gen IV nuclear reactors and is currently conducting a Parliamentary Inquiry of which most of us are unaware, writes Noel Wauchope.
YOU HAVE probably never heard of the “GIF”.
I hadn’t, until just this week when by chance, I heard of the Parliament Inquiry into the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems.
The Committee consists of nine Liberal MPs, six Labor and one Green.
That inquiry is being held now and the Committee calls, or more correctly, whispers, for submissions by 28 April 2017.
It is all about the GIF — Generation IV International Forum. The Australian Government signed up to this, in 2016, without any public discussion.
What is The Generation IV International Forum (GIF)?
An international collection of 14 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, the UK and the USA (original charter members, 2005); Switzerland, Euratom, China, Russia and Australia (signed later).
‘ … nuclear energy is significant now and also seen as vital for the future’.
What is the 2005 Framework Agreement AKA “the charter”?
According to the World Nuclear Association the 2005 Framework Agreement:
‘ … formally commits them [signatories] to participate in the development of one or more Generation IV systems selected by GIF for further R&D.’
Australia signed the charter on 22 June 2016 represented by Dr Adi Patterson, COE of the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). — pending this Joint Standing Committee on Treaties review. ANSTO is to be the implementing agent.
When the Australian Government quietly signed up to the GIF, it made no commitment to any particular action towards developing new nuclear reactors. Other countries – including Japan, Canada, France, South Korea – have committed to working on particular types of Generation IV reactors. Australia might be expected to not only fully sign up as a member of the charter but perhaps also to provide funding and resources to develop one or more types.
Australia’s signing of the GIF
Media reports indicate Australia made a bid, or approach, to join GIF. The active seeking out of such an agreement that is at odds with public opinion, at odds with the current government’s policy position on nuclear power and is inconsistent with Australian laws, which prohibit the use of this technology, is astounding…….
ANSTO makes a number of questionable assumptions about Australia joining in developing new nuclear reactors. For example, ANSTO claims that it would ‘further Australia’s non-proliferation and nuclear safety objectives’, and ‘further strengthen our claim as the most advanced nuclear country in SEAP’ and will position Australia to develop Generation IV reactors.
There are so many questions about — one hardly knows where to start:…….https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-gift-of-the-gif-generation-iv-international-forum,10215#.WPbL2mlNX7g.twitter
IF Kim Jong-un is planning to launch a missile at Australia or US interests there’s one strategic intelligence facility that should know all about it.
And it’s right in the centre of our own country.
The secretive Pine Gap spy base has a vast array of signals intelligence capabilities and you can bet it will be monitoring Kim Jong-un’s every word.
Run by both Australia and the United States, the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is located about 20km from Alice Springs.
The remote site is considered strategically vital by both the US and Australian governments and it is used to collect a wide range of signals intelligence as well as providing information on early warning of ballistic missile launches. The flat landscape away from any city ensures the secretive site has a lack of interference.
It also contributes to and collects data used for US drones in the Middle East and Pakistan and it has access to satellites that could spy on most continents, bar the Americas and Antarctica
And while personnel based there are always searching for intelligence, they are now understood to be on standby following escalating tensions between North Korea and the US, according to the NT News.
According to the report, the US has notified Australia that it’s prepared to shoot down any missiles launched as North Korea escalates its threats. Continue reading
Malcolm Turnbull talks up coal in Delhi, despite India’s aim to stop imports Glut in Indian coal market, plans to phase out imports and lower than forecast energy demands cast doubt on future for exports from proposed Adani mine, Guardian, Michael Safi , 11 Apr 17, Malcolm Turnbull is adamant that Australian coal will play “a very big role” in powering India’s future despite a glut in the local market and clear signals from Delhi that it aims to eliminate imports of the fossil fuel as soon as possible. ………..On Monday Turnbull met Gautam Adani, the mining magnate whose company will soon decide whether to begin building the world’s largest coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee basin. Continue reading
Adani to press Turnbull on $900m boost during visit , THE AUSTRALIAN, DAVID CROWE, Political correspondent, Canberra, @CroweDM, 10 Apr 17, Malcolm Turnbull will be asked to seal a $900 million deal to clear the way for the mammoth Adani coal mine in central Queensland during his visit to India that also seeks to inject momentum into a trade deal between two countries.
The Prime Minister arrived in New Delhi last night for a three-day state visit that will include talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, meetings with business leaders and a focus on the country’s demand for energy.
The $21 billion coal project towers over other items on the agenda, with Adani pushing for action within months on financing agreements and regulatory hurdles. Its Carmichael mine is being opposed by green groups in the courts and on the ground.
“We’ll certainly be talking about the importance of energy exports to India,” Mr Turnbull said before flying to New Delhi from Port Moresby, where he concluded a two-day visit yesterday morning. “India has a massive program of expanding electrification across the country and Australian coal has a very big role to play in that.”
Adani founder Gautam Adani told Indian media last month the company was eligible for $900m from the Turnbull government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to build the rail line from the mine to the company’s port at Abbot Point.
The backing from the fund, which uses federal guarantees to finance commercial projects, will help Adani limit its equity contribution to the rail project to about $800m of a total investment of about $2.5bn in the next two years, with the rest coming from debt and the NAIF.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk met Mr Adani in Mumbai last month and announced most approvals had been concluded for the project. At the same function, Mr Adani said he expected final approval from the federal government by May.
Mr Turnbull is expected to see Mr Adani during the visit after meeting him at least twice, in November 2015 and December 2016, when the billionaire pushed for more help to get the mine open.
After the 2015 meeting, Mr Adani said he had pressed Mr Turnbull to legislate to stop environmental groups delaying the project in the courts. The Abbott government’s attempt to amend the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to stop “vigilante” activists was stymied in the Senate a month before Mr Turnbull became Prime Minister.
Writing in The Australian today, Mr Turnbull emphasises the opportunities for Australia as the Indian economy grows, increasing demand for Australia….. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/adani-to-press-turnbull-on-900m-boost-during-visit/news-story/6beae575a49aacfad4d51eca3dfe0846
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had pointedly said before news of the strikes broke that the chemical attack on civilians “cries out for a strong response”.
On Friday morning, Mr Turnbull linked the attacks to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and blamed Russia for failing to rein in its ally.
But Mr Turnbull carefully sidestepped questions about what action Australia might take against the regime after Washington appeared to ramp up its rhetoric about the need for Mr Assad’s removal.
“This is a war crime of the worst sort. It is inhumane and it has been universally condemned,” Mr Turnbull told radio 3AW………
Asked on Friday morning whether Australia would step up its military effort in Syria beyond air strikes against the so-called Islamic State group, Mr Turnbull said he had spoken “a little while ago” to Defence Minister Marise Payne and Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin but refused to say if any action was being discussed.
“I don’t want to speculate any further about that. You know where we stand. We have condemned this attack, utterly. It cries out for a strong response and we are in very close touch, as we always are, constant communications with our allies, in particular the United States.
In a slap at the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Turnbull said that “Russia obviously is the principal foreign sponsor of the Assad regime”.
Asked whether Russia had behaved appropriately, Mr Turnbull said, “No.”…….
Greens senator Scott Ludlum issued a statement on Friday condemning the US strikes on Syria and calling on Mr Turnbull to rule out Australian involvement in any new military campaign.
“The horror of the chemical weapons attack in Syria this week requires a credible, independent investigation, not a random barrage of missiles ordered by a clueless President,” he said. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-turnbull-says-syria-chemical-attack-demands-strong-response-as-military-threats-grow-20170406-gvfnqh.html
This is particularly so in Canberra, where none of this was predicted.
big global issues — large scale immigration, historic disparities between the haves and have nots, massive technology change led by ubiquitous networked platforms, not to mention climate change — are wreaking their consequences at warp speed. All while the US is consumed with its own political civil war, led by none other than the president himself.
Tom Burton: mokita and the mad king, http://www.themandarin.com.au/77426-tom-burton-mokita-mad-king/ by Tom Burton 31.03.2017 The sudden and rapid collapse of US foreign policy administrative infrastructure has left Australia particularly exposed, leaving our diplomats scratching their heads about what to do.
Mokita is the word the people of the tiny New Guinea island of Kiriwina use to describe the “truth we all know, but agree not to talk about.” Mokita was on display big time this week when all of Australia’s ambassadors met in Canberra to consider the shape of the government’s foreign policy white paper.
The meeting was addressed by Minister Bishop who in a long, wide ranging speech, referenced the new US President Donald Trump and the profound impact of his election, in but a single line: “The United States has a new President, driving an economic nationalist agenda.”
The reference was in the context of the international windback of the global economic liberalism which has served Australia well since the end of World War II. But while the otherwise eloquent speech traversed some of the obvious implications of this shift, there was no further public mention of the sheer madness that has characterised the Trump presidency to date and the fundamental effect this is having on world geopolitical order.
Tyro US Ambassador, Joe Hockey, was in similar Chamberlain appeasement mode as he later advised Australians to not join the chorus of constant criticism of Trump, Continue reading
UN nuclear treaty: Australia plays deputy as US ‘sheriff’ baulks at ban Daniel Flitton, The Age, 29 Mar 17 Nikki Haley marched in on her first day as Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations with a blunt warning to the world: “For those who don’t have our backs, we’re taking names.”
Australia has now gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure its name stays off Trump’s naughty list. With negotiations for a new treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons kicking off on Monday (New York time), Haley called an extraordinary press conference outside the UN to declare the US opposition to the talks.
And there, at her heels, was Australia.
At the very moment representatives from more than 120 countries were starting their negotiations inside, Australia stood with Trump’s appointee and a group widely known as the “weasel countries” who are opposed to banning the bomb.
According to anti-nuclear campaigners, 21 countries joined Haley’s protest. They included Albania, Turkey, Croatia, Romania, Poland, Estonia, Slovenia, Hungary and South Korea. Britain and France, both nuclear armed, also spoke against a ban. Other NATO allies joined in, although not all……
Back in January, Haley had made plain the attitude the Trump administration would take to the world body. “Our goal … is to show value at the UN, and the way to show value is to show our strength, show our full voice,” she declared. “Have the backs of our allies and make sure our allies have our backs as well.
“For those who don’t have our backs, we’re taking names, and we will make points to respond to that accordingly.”
On Monday, after the protest at the UN, she told a key lobby group for Israel in Washington: “For anyone who says you can’t get anything done at the UN, they need to know there’s a new sheriff in town.”
And she made the nuclear issue personal…….
Tilman Ruff, of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, told Fairfax Media from New York that the US action was alarming and Australia was “aligning itself with the extremes of the Trump administration”.
“What credibility does Australia have to criticise North Korea’s reckless nuclear proliferation when it continues to claim protection itself through the very same weapons, and oppose efforts to ban them?” Dr Ruff said. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/un-nuclear-treaty-australia-plays-deputy-as-us-sheriff-baulks-at-ban-20170328-gv8bge.html