Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Can the Australian government ignore this powerful letter exposing the foolish decision to ”go nuclear” with submarines and AUKUS?

Ed. note. Here I summarise the points in this well-researched letter: Diplomatic Repercussions –  Geopolitical Tensions and Australian National Security(Why the decision makes Australias national security worse not better)  – We now have No Submarine Program at All.  – But Is Nuclear the Best Stealth? – Can we Build them at Osborne?  -Time to re-evaluate our Submarine Program? –The worst option is to do as we have now done. – Conclusion – This decision  should be re-visited

Conclusion

The submarine decision, especially within the context of the new ‘AUKUS’ grouping, but even taken on its own:

Worsens rather than improves Australias own national security, making us (more of) a nuclear target than we have ever been, and extending the targeting potentially from joint facilities to Australian cities and naval bases.

Worsens rather than improves regional security, adding impetus to regional arms racing, and increasing the likelihood that other Governments may decide they would like to have submarines fueled by HEU 

Leaves Australia currently with no replacement program for the Collins Class submarines

Makes no sense even within its own restricted terms of reference because it does not offer a submarine with the best stealth

—Requires a submarine  that may not be possible to construct even in part at Osborne. 

Letter Sent 5 October to Cabinet Security Cttee, Senate, Reps, DFAT, re Nuclear Subs, AUKUS,

PEOPLE FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

HUMAN SURVIVAL PROJECTNUCLEAR SUBMARINES, AUKUS

Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison, other decision-makers on the Australian nuclear submarines project, Cabinet National Security Committee, AUKUS:

Summary:

The decision to establish a new diplomatic/military grouping, AUKUS, deepens confrontational tendencies in the Indo-Pacific region and is hence destabilizing, and worsens rather than improves Australia’s national security. It helps to ‘paint nuclear targets on Australia’s backside’.

The decision to equip Australia with nuclear submarines fueled with highly enriched uranium is both destabilizing and proliferative even if technically within the letters of the NPT.  The decision to go with HEU fueled subs in particular opens a proliferation ‘pandoras box’.

https://thebulletin.org/2021/09/the-new-australia-uk-and-us-nuclear-submarine-announcement-a-terrible-decision-for-the-nonproliferation-regime/

The decision to ‘go nuclear’ with submarines has been justified on the supposed technical superiority of nuclear over conventional subs. However a look in detail at the real – world technical and operational characteristics of advanced conventional and nuclear subs shows clear technical superiorities on the part of advanced conventional submarines exactly where we are being told nuclear subs are superior – in the area of quietness and non-detectability. The technical case for nuclear over conventional submarines is not established.

No analysis, and no thought, has been given as to what are Australia’s real security needs, and into whether submarines of any description fit into it.

The decision leaves Australia with currently NO replacement program for the Collins Class subs.        

The Submarine Decision and AUKUS

The decision to cancel an existing, well – established, contract with the French Naval Group for a diesel version of the Suffren class attack submarine has not met with universal acclaim, particularly from the French.

At the same time, the  closely related decision to establish a new military/diplomatic grouping to be known as ‘AUKUS’ (Australia-UK-US) has also raised questions as to its  geo-strategic impact, and contributed further to the deterioration of our relations with China, and possibly with Russia, with potentially catastrophic implications for Australias national security and the safety of all Australians.

It has quite reasonably been suggested that the establishment of ‘AUKUS” cements Australia into an ‘Anglo-sphere’ that is intrinsically limited in scope (how for example, does it relate to the ‘quad’ of India, Australia, Japan, US?), that excludes other nations that have strong Indo-Pacific interests and are allies (including France itself, now snubbed and smarting), and above all, that deepens confrontational attitudes in the region, especially with China.

It is by no means clear that the decision to substitute nuclear powered submarines is even the best decision on technical grounds, or that nuclear powered submarines are necessarily superior in the respects that might be important to Australia and particularly in extreme stealth – to conventionally powered submarines, either the existing Collins class, the erstwhile projected French submarine, or to an evolutionary successor to Collins.

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October 5, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, opposition to nuclear, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

ARPANSA may not give licence for Kimba nuclear waste dump. Nuclear wastes best managed at Lucas Heights


ANSTO’s proposed public works appear premised on an ill-considered, unassured and, arguably, untenable proposed transfer of intermediate-level waste into indefinite above-ground storage in South Australia. That’s a plan which may never come to fruition, just as the prior proposal by then Prime Minister Howard’s federal government to impose transfer and storage of ANSTO’s nuclear waste into South Australia, which was run between 1998 and 2004, had to be abandoned as a flawed proposal.

As the CEO of ARPANSA has said, nuclear waste can be safely managed at ANSTO at Lucas Heights for decades to come. With respect, that should be the premise on which your committee addresses the works before you.

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works 13/09/2021 Intermediate level solid waste storage facility, Lucas Heights, New South Wales

NOONAN, Mr David, Private capacity [by audio link] Mr Noonan : I have nearly 25 years experience of following nuclear waste issues in Australia, both in capacity, working for non-government organisations, and more recently as an individual—an independent consultant and campaigner.

My first key point is that the primary premise that your committee should consider, evaluate and scrutinise of ANSTO’s proposed works is in terms of the safety contingency set by the independent regulator ARPANSA to retain ANSTO’s nuclear waste at Lucas Heights until the availability of a final isolation and disposal option. With respect, I think that should be the primary matter that should have been addressed by ANSTO in their submission to you and apparently was not.

My second key point is that, in contrast, ANSTO, as, with respect, a vested-interest proponent, presents a plan of proposed works that relies on proposed transfer of intermediate-level waste into indefinite above-ground storage in South Australia—potentially for up to 100 years. Firstly, I’d say that is arguably untenable, and I’d welcome a question line on that if it suits the committee. Secondly, it appears to pre-empt the proper role of ARPANSA licensing decision-making. ARPANSA have said that they will require separate licence processes to assess potential siting, construction and operation of a proposed store for ANSTO intermediate-level waste in South Australia. ANSTO don’t have a right, in the design of their plan and works toward you, to pre-empt a potential grant of outcome to that, and ARPANSA have been clear that they may or may not grant those licences in future.

Thirdly, your mandate as a committee goes to both scrutinising and assessing proposed works. But it holds a fundamental provision, in that you have a right to alter the proposed works—and I would ask you to consider doing so—to make them best comply with the suitability of the overarching purpose of meeting the best public value in the proposed works and the best cost-effectiveness in expenditure of public funds. With respect, I would say that that assessment and the scrutiny which you provide to ANSTO’s application should be in terms of their capacity and willingness to match the safety contingencies set by the independent regulator to retain intermediate-level waste on site at Lucas Heights until availability of a final isolation and disposal option.

Fourthly: I think the scrutiny that your committee would conduct is best served by the highest level of transparency. In that respect, I would call for you to ask ANSTO to publicly release two fundamentally important reports with regard to their planning and capacities to manage intermediate-level waste at Lucas Heights that were due under their licensing conditions. These reports were due to the independent regulator mid last year, in June. Those reports, as far as I’m aware, are not before your committee in the public evidence, and they should be. With respect, I think they should have been available for members of the public to scrutinise in their preparation of submissions to you. Further, in terms of transparency, it would be best if you could bring onto the public record ARPANSA’s evaluation of those ANSTO reports on their plans and capacities to manage intermediate-level waste at Lucas Heights. Preferably, you would hear from the regulator, ARPANSA, given their overarching role in these public interest issues. They would give evidence before you as a witness, for instance, or you could at least put questions to them.

In conclusion, I would present that ANSTO’s proposed plan fails to meet the proper safety contingency for extended storage of intermediate-level waste on site at Lucas Heights. This is, with respect, the primary purpose and warranted public interest measure by which their work should be scrutinised, assessed and evaluated by your committee. In my view and experience, ANSTO’s proposed public works appear premised on an ill-considered, unassured and, arguably, untenable proposed transfer of intermediate-level waste into indefinite above-ground storage in South Australia. That’s a plan which may never come to fruition, just as the prior proposal by then Prime Minister Howard’s federal government to impose transfer and storage of ANSTO’s nuclear waste into South Australia, which was run between 1998 and 2004, had to be abandoned as a flawed proposal.

The then Prime Minister gave assurances that it wouldn’t be renewed for South Australia, and yet we have to face this federal government’s policy agenda to transfer waste out of Lucas Heights unnecessarily when, arguably, it could be safely and securely managed. As the CEO of ARPANSA has said, nuclear waste can be safely managed at ANSTO at Lucas Heights for decades to come. With respect, that should be the premise on which your committee addresses the works before you…. https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;db=COMMITTEES;id=committees%2Fcommjnt%2Fcfc4f9dc-b73c-4166-b484-eeaddcab5bc0%2F0001;query=(Dataset%3Acommsen,commrep,commjnt,estimate,commbill%20SearchCategory_Phrase%3Acommittees)%20CommitteeName_Phrase%3A%22parliamentary%20standing%20committee%20on%20public%20works%22;rec=4

October 4, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Trevor St Baker and the latest push for nuclear energy


Trevor St Baker and the latest push for nuclear energy, Independent Australia,  By David Paull | 2 October 2021
  Quickly following the Morrison Government’s new ill-defined arrangements to obtain nuclear technology from its UK and U.S. (AUKUS) alliance partners, we have seen a new push from nuclear advocates for a domestic nuclear power industry.

Senator Matt Canavan, the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and pieces appearing in the Murdoch media have been leading the charge. There was also a puzzling link made by Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce on ABC’s Insiders.

It wasn’t too long ago when Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s inquiry into a new domestic nuclear energy sector was held. Submissions by the nuclear industry and their lobbyists were widely condemned as containing shiploads of misinformation regarding the cost of nuclear versus renewables and the greenwashing of the carbon footprint. The Committee, however, recommended a partial lifting of the standing nuclear energy ban for ‘new and emerging technologies’.

The leading “new and emerging technology” is a reference to small modular reactors (SMRs), designed specifically to provide baseload power to the grid via a network of nuclear generators. As it turns out, Taylor has been leaking information to a far-right media outlet on the need to develop this sector in Australia with the co-operation of expertise from the UK, even with the assistance of our nuclear agency ANSTO.And here emerges a key player in this debate in Australia — the managing director of the company set up to develop this industry, Trevor St Baker.

With respect to his acknowledged need to de-carbonise our economy, Mr St Baker is on the record for claiming that “to reduce CO2 we must go nuclear” and that a rush to renewables would be a disaster for the power network. He claims that “intermittent” renewables are only projected to supply little more “than 25% annually any time soon” and that “electricity supply grids need synchronous generation supply for at least 40% of electricity demand at any time”.

Inherent in this way of thinking is that a dispatchable renewable power system backed by batteries cannot meet a base-load (24 hour) demand, a common theme expressed by other nuclear and fossil fuel lobbyists but an argument nonetheless increasingly on shaky ground. Nonetheless, the nuclear lobbying effort is attempting for all its might to gain momentum.

St Baker, depending on how you look at it, is a very clever businessman, one of the richest in Australia or one who is extremely “well connected”. His position on energy seems to many to be incongruous, attacking banks for withdrawing support for new fossil fuel ventures on the one hand yet investing substantially in renewable projects such as EV recharging stations through his Energy Innovation Fund……….

The Australian Nuclear Association (ANA) is our leading nuclear lobby group whose views on the need for a domestic nuclear industry mirror those views articulated by St Baker, including the view that SMR reactors are more or less “ready to roll”. Their latest media maintains that a poll has been conducted showing that ‘Australians support for considering nuclear energy reaches 70%’. However, the polls mentioned were conducted by the Liberal Party-affiliated Menzies Research Centre, so it’s hardly an independent poll given the Government’s past position on the issue and given the Centre’s position that ‘nuclear is beautiful’.

Like the international fossil fuel lobbying network, there are national and international bodies operating in tandem in the nuclear sector. The ANA is an affiliate of the World Nuclear Association (WNA) who it seems is conducting a vamped-up PR campaign to open new markets for nuclear power. Central to this is an emphasis on small modular reactor technology, announcing the first such reactors in Russia in December 2019 and now is most concerned by issues with licensing and design of SMRs. Other themes include the suitability of such technology for rapid changes in energy systems in response to climate issues.

Of course, this is what St Baker is banking on, literally with his considerable investment in the SMR technology.  It is clear that the ruling political party in Australia would dearly love to get behind the nuclear transition as quickly as possible. The only real stumbling block is Labor’s opposition to the concept, public opinion and our adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/trevor-st-baker-and-the-latest-push-for-nuclear-energy,15578

October 4, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison confirms he’s unlikely to attend UN climate summit in Glasgow

Scott Morrison confirms he’s unlikely to attend UN climate summit in Glasgow,  SBS, 2 Oct 21, Scott Morrison says attending COP26 would require him to go into quarantine for a fourth time, disrupting his ability to “engage in my normal duties” as prime minister.

Scott Morrison has given the strongest indication yet he will not attend United Nations climate talks in Glasgow, blaming coronavirus quarantine requirements……

“I will have spent, if I do that, a total of four times 14-day quarantine, basically, in this building, not being able to engage in my normal duties around the country as much as I would like to.”

“That’s a long time for a prime minister to be in quarantine in a six-month period.”

More than 100 world leaders have so far indicated they will attend the summit in person………

Meanwhile, Nationals resisting coalition attempts to get a 2050 net zero emissions target over the line before Glasgow say they are yet to see the government’s plan for how to achieve it……… https://www.sbs.com.au/news/scott-morrison-confirms-he-s-unlikely-to-attend-un-climate-summit-in-glasgow/6649bcbf-6bcc-4ae5-8572-70e988624437

October 2, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Liberal Coalition prepares for greenwashing at the Glascow climate summit


Right faction hardheads will accept greenwashing ahead of Glasgow if that’s required to keep the Coalition in power, Guardian Katharine Murphy 2 Oct 21,
But even if Scott Morrison lands net zero he would rather market his climate pivot at home rather than abroad – there’s an election to prepare for……………………………………….. Right now, Morrison is trying to land new climate commitments ahead of the Cop26 in Glasgow. While senior people insist Morrison’s net zero plane is going to land, on a runway, with zero casualties, either in the second or third week of October, climate policy can be lethal territory for Australian prime ministers, and not just prime ministers called Malcolm Turnbull (as Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard can attest).

Morrison’s current trouble seems to be confined to a handful of Queensland Nationals as opposed to the entire right faction of the Liberal party, which was Turnbull’s cross to bear during rounds one and two of his internal climate wars.

Thus far, the right has been quiet. People say the majority view is grudging acceptance because of the shifting politics – although some conservatives report a growing backlash bubbling up from the base about a net zero commitment.

Morrison referenced the shifting politics when he met a deputation of mainly moderate Liberals earlier this week. This group of MPs was given some face time with Morrison after they asked to see him. The objective was to send a clear message: the group wanted a commitment to the net zero target. They did not want a handful of Queensland Nationals writing the government’s climate change policy.

……   If the centre of political gravity has shifted in favour of climate action in parts of the country where the Liberals need to hold or win seats, then the Liberal party will need to act, or (more pertinently) at least look like it’s acting.

If that’s the electoral reality, political hard heads in the right faction of the Liberal party can hold their noses about net zero if they believe greenwashing ahead of Glasgow is what’s required to keep Labor out of power.

But for some hardcore conservatives, Morrison revisiting the Coalition’s climate crime scene will be a provocation. It will be yet more proof of his obnoxious dictatorial pragmatism. It is not clear yet whether or not conservative feet will be stamped or rhetorical punches thrown. Perhaps they won’t, because there are always consequences for picking fights. But wise prime ministers prepare for all contingencies………..

Assuming the prime minister can land his net zero deal with Barnaby Joyce, Morrison would rather market his climate pivot at home rather than abroad……….https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/oct/02/right-faction-hardheads-will-accept-greenwashing-ahead-of-glasgow-if-thats-required-to-keep-the-coalition-in-power

October 2, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia the sucker for cash-strapped U.S, and U.K submarine companies General Dynamics and BAE Systems

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is close to BAE, the UK defence contractor whose nuclear subs program is struggling. The submarine program in the US too is foundering, so the game plan by our AUKUS partners is to rope in the dopey Aussies for a hundred billion dollars-plus to finance their distressed submarine sectors.

Both US submarine builder General Dynamics and its British counterpart BAE are looking for a new income stream from Downunder.

$66 Billion Reasons: did Scott Morrison get the French submarines right? By Michael West| September 30, 2021  ….. Michael West investigates the awkward AUKUS alliance and whether Scott Morrison made the right call on French submarines.As if ……….being dead last in the developed world on climate action , Scott Morrison and his Coalition have now burnished their reputation for incompetence on the global stage.

In one fell swoop, the sudden AUKUS declaration, they have achieved a stunning betrayal of the French, further peeved our biggest trading partner China, upset half of Europe, shown the bird to New Zealand and our neighbours in the Asian region, and waved an open cheque-book at the US and the UK military industrial complex.

Yet, in their ardour to crawl back to the Mother Country and bat their debutante eyes at Washington, they appear to have got something right: axing the French submarines. Are our self-described band of “Superior Economic Managers” accidental heroes, or did they mean to get it right?

If they double down and splash $100b plus on nuclear submarines, they will have got it doubly wrong.

Defence correspondent Michelle Fahy has documented here the $90b shocker which is Australia’s deal with French shipbuilder Naval Group. Naval itself has an ugly history of corruption and there are serious questions about how the deal came about in the first place, indeed serious questions about the billions in public money smoked every year in Defence procurement.

Murder, corruption, bombings – the company at centre of Australia’s submarine deal

The arms company at the centre of a deadly criminal saga and numerous global corruption scandals, Naval Group, was selected by the Australian government to build our new fleet of submarines – a deal heralded as ‘one of the world’s most lucrative defence contracts’. How did this happen? In this special investigation Michelle Fahy discovers significant gaps in anti-bribery and corruption measures.

Yet there is upside. Scott Morrison and co have junked a deal which would have delivered a fleet of expensive, obsolete submarines 20 years too late for the war which the government’s champions in the media keep telling us we might have to fight against China. Even though a war with China is nothing more than a grotesque proposition, scaremongering by the weapons lobby and media to distract from corruption and mismanagement at home. Media war porn.

The same might be said of the F-35 Strike Fighter debacle and the BAE frigates scandal. Every large defence procurement is marred by billions of dollars in waste. But here’s the thing with the subs; there is a solid body of work which suggests submarines are already obsolete, nuclear or not. They can be tracked; they are a titanic waste of money.

The National Security College (Federal Government and ANU) published a working paper in May 2020 saying nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines will be detectable at sea.

Meanwhile, the French are complaining we owe them $US66 billion for reneging on the deal with Naval. That’s an ambit claim, to be sure. It might cost the government $5b-$10b all up, some already sunk, the rest to stave off an embarrassing court action; but the result so far is: one, no obsolete subs deal with the French, and two, only a mooted nuclear subs deal with the Brits and Americans which may never happen. Hopefully.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is close to BAE, the UK defence contractor whose nuclear subs program is struggling. The submarine program in the US too is foundering, so the game plan by our AUKUS partners is to rope in the dopey Aussies for a hundred billion dollars-plus to finance their distressed submarine sectors.

The doctrine of the gullible Aussie is getting airplay in the US press. According to war contractor expert Charles Tiefer in Forbes:

“Under the cloud of smoke around the Australian submarine deal, are the unspoken aspects of the enrichment of American military contractors. There is no public mention of which American contractors will build the expensive parts of the expensive Australian submarines.”

Both US submarine builder General Dynamics and its British counterpart BAE are looking for a new income stream from Downunder.

Should the Coalition stay true to its track record of dithering though, it may soon become evident that submarines in general are a leviathan waste of money and public money ought to be expended on something less wasteful. 

Scott Morrison might, unwittingly, have got it right. He might not have to spend much on submarines at all. The question then becomes, what has he got us into?

Back to the future

As three former prime ministers in Paul Keating, Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd have already pointed out, AUKUS puts Australians in greater danger, renders Australia a vassal to foreign power and antagonises our neighbours in the region.

Depending on how you count them, there are probably already four US bases in operation now:

  • Pine Gap near Alice Springs, Northern Territory,
  • Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt, north of the town of Exmouth, Western Australia,
  • Robertson Barracks in Darwin, Northern Territory,
  • Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station near Geraldton, WA.

However, the US military already has access to all major Australian Defence Force (ADF) training areas, northern Australian RAAF airfields, port facilities in Darwin and Fremantle, and probably future access too to an expanded Stirling naval base in Pe

Under AUKUS, this may just be the beginning. It was largely ignored during the AUKUS media blitz and the dramatic cuckolding of the French but Peter Dutton had this to say at his press conference on September 16,   

Unveiling plans for new facilities on Australian soil for US naval, air, and ground forces would entail “combined logistics, sustainment, and capability for maintenance to support our enhanced activities, including … for our submarines and surface combatants”. That is on top of “rotational deployments of all types of US military aircraft to Australia”.

If the plan is to shred Australia’s sovereignty and make us a target for China, he is succeeding with aplomb. We are about to be swamped by US military.

Forward to the past

It is poetic too, that at this very time we are striking even stronger and even more unnecessary ties with Westminster and Washington. Boris Johnson’s government is beset by the chaos which is Brexit, such chaos now that it has spawned a global energy emergency. While the EU has the wobbles on its trade deal with Australia, Boris is in the market for a friend.

It is poetic too, that at this very time we are striking even stronger and even more unnecessary ties with Westminster and Washington. Boris Johnson’s government is beset by the chaos which is Brexit, such chaos now that it has spawned a global energy emergency. While the EU has the wobbles on its trade deal with Australia, Boris is in the market for a friend…………   https://www.michaelwest.com.au/aukus-french-submarines-scott-morrison/

September 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear submarines – a grand announcement leading to a grand shambles.

Bitter truth is we will likely never get any nuclear subs, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/yes-weve-cancelled-the-french-but-now-what/news-story/99b43465c2124c01a579672d8ef19349 Greg Sheridan, 30 Sept 21, As things stand, it is unlikely Australia will ever get a nuclear submarine. All that we have done so far is cancel the French submarine. My guess is this delays any submarine at all by at least 10 years.   It fills me with regret to say this, but analytically the conclusion is inescapable that the nuclear subs under the AUKUS rubric will probably proceed the way of all our other submarine announcements. They will enjoy a brief flower of credibility before doubts creep in, critics become mobilised, the prime minister who ordered them moves on and eventually they are consigned to the dustbin for a new submarine announcement that can enjoy its brief season in the sun.

Our submarine acquisition process remains a complete shambles and the chances of anything significant emerging from it remain remote.
My colleague Dennis Shanahan reported from the recent prime ministerial trip to the US that the government was not interested in leasing a nuclear submarine from the US over the next several years. Instead it wanted to add new submarines to the allied fleet, rather than take a sub or two out of the existing US and British lines. On its own, this approach probably guarantees that nothing of consequence comes of this initiative.

It is impossible to understand why the Brits are in the mix, apart from PR. If we choose the British Astute sub and don’t modify it, that means ditching the jewel of our defence technology, the US combat system that we have on the Collins, as well as most of the US weapons we use on the Collins. So the US, at the end of all this, would be getting billions of dollars less work from us and our navies would be less integrated.
Malcolm Turnbull was savage in his National Press Club attack on the Morrison government’s decision to ditch the French subs and go nuclear. Turnbull exaggerates the diplomatic cost. However, his technical critique of the nuclear subs proposal was substantial. He drew attention to obvious contradictions in the process.
All we have done so far is cancel the French subs. As of now, we have no future submarine program at all. The Morrison government scored a diplomatic triumph in getting the Americans to agree to transfer nuclear submarine propulsion to us and in the way AUKUS was presented.

But the global reaction was based on the idea, wholly mistaken, that we would be getting the nuclear subs some time soon.In his first press conference, Scott Morrison said the subs would be built in Adelaide and he hoped we might start the build before the end of this decade and get the first one into service before the end of the next decade; that is, 2040. Here are some laws of the physical universe and the operation of logic that cannot be contradicted or transcended. If we do not lease a sub and instead make them all in Adelaide we will not get the first one before 2040. Frankly, even that date involves almost miraculous virtuosity.

Every major, complex naval build we’ve undertaken has come in way over budget and long over schedule.In the history of human habitation of this continent, nothing remotely comparable in complexity to building a nuclear submarine has ever been attempted.

Obviously, it makes no industrial or military sense to build the subs in Adelaide. Doing so will add years to the schedule and tens of billions of dollars to the cost. The French are criticised for prospective delays in their conventional subs, but we could have had them much more quickly if they were built in France.But here is a moral certainty. The dialectics of Australian politics will force both the Coalition and Labor, before the next election, to commit to building all the subs in Adelaide.

Say by some miracle the process stays on track and we actually get a boat in the water by 2040 – pretty unlikely, but not absolutely impossible – that does not mean we have our replacement submarine fleet by 2040. If we can build one nuclear sub every three years after that we will be doing very well. That means we would get our fleet of eight subs by 2061.In terms of military capability in the face of the strategic challenges we face in the next decade or two, that is truly a sick joke. It’s the three-card trick all over again.

The capability gap we have to bridge is not up to 2040 but up to, say, 2055, when we might get the sixth nuclear boat and can therefore replace, one for one, the Collins boats. Of course the nuclear subs will be much more capable than the Collins, but they’re no good at all if they don’t actually exist.

Australian submarine policy right now requires the Collins boats to remain our frontline submarine capability until at least the 2040s. No living Australian prime minister has commissioned a sub that actually got built. The last prime minister to do so was Bob Hawke. The Collins boats were commissioned in the 1980s, yet must serve into the 2040s. The frankly batshit crazy quality of our circumstances is evident in this comparison: it would be as if Britain commissioned a new weapons system under Queen Victoria in 1901 and it was still in service as the main British weapons system at the time of the Beatles in the 1960s.

It is impossible to understand why the Brits are in the mix, apart from PR. If we choose the British Astute sub and don’t modify it, that means ditching the jewel of our defence technology, the US combat system that we have on the Collins, as well as most of the US weapons we use on the Collins. So the US, at the end of all this, would be getting billions of dollars less work from us and our navies would be less integrated.

Alternatively, there is talk of choosing the Astute but putting a US combat system, US weapons and even US propulsion system into it. Dear God in heaven, if we embrace the insanity of designing a new nuclear sub just for Australia, even 2060 will be optimistic for the first boat.Or if we choose the Virginia, as we must, the Brits get nothing, yet Boris Johnson was assuring the British public that AUKUS meant hundreds and hundreds of well-paid jobs in Britain’s north. We made a mistake choosing the British Type 26 frigate, which still is not in service even in Britain and is two years behind schedule and counting. Just imagine a Brit submarine saga.

So the government has solved only the problem that its own incompetent, lazy and inexplicable failure to champion its own defence programs brought about, but so far has substituted nothing concrete for it.


The result is likely no submarine capability for us at all, except museum piece Collins boats and whatever submarine visits the Americans or Brits send along. We should have kept the French subs going, perhaps at a reduced number of six or even three, then gone nuclear in an orderly way.

Instead we have once more followed our own traditions of grand announcement leading to grand shambles.
A cynical interpretation might be that the Liberals never explained, championed or campaigned for their own choice of the French sub. Choosing Marise Payne and then Linda Reynolds as defence ministers was grotesque, by Turnbull and Morrison respectively, as neither could carry the debate or the portfolio.

So the government has solved only the problem that its own incompetent, lazy and inexplicable failure to champion its own defence programs brought about, but so far has substituted nothing concrete for it.The result is likely no submarine capability for us at all, except museum piece Collins boats and whatever submarine visits the Americans or Brits send along. We should have kept the French subs going, perhaps at a reduced number of six or even three, then gone nuclear in an orderly way.

Instead we have once more followed our own traditions of grand announcement leading to grand shambles.

September 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull on nuclear submarines – nothing is agreed. There is no design, no costing, no contract.

But nothing is agreed. There is no design, no costing, no contract. The only certainty is that we won’t have new submarines for 20 years and their cost will be a lot more than the French subs. However, high hopes and good intentions are in abundance. But there were plenty of them when we did the deal with France too. 

Is it credible to have a hands-off plug and play nuclear reactor filled with weapons grade uranium and not inspect it for 35 years?  The US and UK will know for sure in about thirty years.  And until then if something does go wrong, both nations have extensive nuclear facilities and expertise to deal with it.

The French nuclear propulsion system however uses low enriched uranium (LEU) – somewhat more enriched than that used in civil nuclear plants. By law they inspect their reactors and refuel them every ten years. All submarines go in for a lengthy, year or more, refit every decade. The refueling of the French naval reactor takes a few weeks.   In this regard at least, French naval nuclear reactor safety standards are stricter than those applied in the United States and the UK.

Australia does not.


Address to the National Press Club Malcolm Turnbull,  September 29 2021   
With the swirl of media soundbites, the impression has been created that the Australian Government has replaced a diesel electric French designed submarine for a nuclear powered American, or British, one. This is not the case.Australia now has no new submarine programme at all. We have cancelled the one we had with France and have a statement of intent with the UK and the US to examine the prospect of acquiring nuclear powered submarines.

Over the next eighteen months there will be a review of the possibilities – the biggest probably being whether the new submarine should be based on the UK Astute[1] submarine or the larger US Virginia class[2].

The hyperbole around the new AUKUS partnership has been dialed up to 11. No three nations in the world already have closer security, intelligence, and technology collaboration than Australia, the US and the UK. And it has been getting closer in recent years. As Canada’s Justin Trudeau observed this is all about selling submarines to Australia[3].

The Australian Government has chosen to terminate a contract with France’s largely state-owned Naval Group to build 12 Attack class submarines. While based on the design of France’s latest nuclear sub they were to be conventionally powered – a modification stipulated by Australia in the competitive tender process begun in 2015 and concluded in April 2016 when it was approved by my Government’s NSC of which the current Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Foreign Minister were all members. 

But nothing is agreed. There is no design, no costing, no contract. The only certainty is that we won’t have new submarines for 20 years and their cost will be a lot more than the French subs. However, high hopes and good intentions are in abundance. But there were plenty of them when we did the deal with France too. 

The first of the Attack class[4] submarines was to be in the water by 2032, with the rest of the fleet coming out of the shipyards every two years until the full complement had been constructed. It was the largest defence procurement in our history – a partnership of generations between France and Australia……………….

One of the attractions of the French subs was that they were originally designed for nuclear propulsion. So, if we decided to switch to nuclear we had a partner that had the expertise to do it with us.

n its natural state uranium is 99% made up of a stable isotope U238, the unstable radioactive isotope U235 is only about 0.7%. The more U235, the more radiation, reactivity and energy. Highly enriched Uranium (HEU) has a concentration of 20% or more U235. Low enriched uranium (LEU) as used in nuclear power stations is typically between 2-5%.

The United States, United Kingdom and Russia are the only countries still to use HEU in their naval reactors. It is enriched to about 95% and is drawn from stockpiles built up for nuclear weapons. 

For Australia, a non-nuclear weapons state, using HEU in a submarine is not a breach of the Treaty on Non Proliferation (NPT), but it does set a precedent which other currently non-nuclear weapons states, like Iran, will seek to exploit as a justification for producing HEU.

Following the AUKUS announcement, I was advised by the Government that the work I had commenced on nuclear options continued and it had been concluded that Australia could use the modular HEU reactors currently deployed in the UK Astute and US Virginia class submarines which, because of their HEU fuel, do not require replacement during the 35 year life of the sub. This, it is contended, means that Australia could have a nuclear-powered submarine without any need to maintain, service or refuel the nuclear reactor.

This is very different advice to that given to the Government as recently as three years ago. It sounds too good to be true; Australia would have submarines powered by nuclear reactors running on weapons grade uranium. And we would not need to have any of our own nuclear facilities or expertise? 

Is it credible to have a hands-off plug and play nuclear reactor filled with weapons grade uranium and not inspect it for 35 years?  The US and UK will know for sure in about thirty years.  And until then if something does go wrong, both nations have extensive nuclear facilities and expertise to deal with it.

Australia does not.

The French nuclear propulsion system however uses low enriched uranium (LEU) – somewhat more enriched than that used in civil nuclear plants. By law they inspect their reactors and refuel them every ten years. All submarines go in for a lengthy, year or more, refit every decade. The refueling of the French naval reactor takes a few weeks.   In this regard at least, French naval nuclear reactor safety standards are stricter than those applied in the United States and the UK.

The new AUKUS submarines, we are told, will still be built in Adelaide. But if there are no nuclear facilities there, that must mean the submarine hulls will be transported to the US or the UK to have the reactor installed together with all of the safety and other systems connected to it.

You don’t need to be especially cynical to see it won’t be long before someone argues it looks much simpler to have the first submarine built in the US or the UK, and then the second, third and so on…..

Australia will be the first country without any civil nuclear industry to operate a nuclear submarine and the first non-nuclear weapon state to use HEU in a naval reactor. So, if we are not going to develop nuclear facilities of our own (as Mr Morrison has promised) then we will no more be sharing nuclear technology with the US than the owner of an iPhone is sharing smartphone technology with Apple.

A new submarine, under the new AUKUS arrangement, would not be in the water until 2040, we are told. That is about eight years after the first Attack class sub would have been in service. So, we are now without any new submarines for the best part of 20 years.

…………. Of course, now that the flurry of the media announcement is over, the question remains whether we will be able to negotiate a satisfactory deal with the US and UK to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine for Australia. If the Astute is preferred because of its size, then for practical purposes we will be price takers. 

…………..the way we are getting there has been clumsy, deceitful, and costly. Too many questions are not being asked, and fewer answered. The blustering attempts to wedge those who seek answers do not serve our national interest.

Our national security does not rely on fleets and armies alone. And that is just as well, for we will never have military might to match that of potential rivals.

…..Diplomacy matters, and at the heart of diplomacy is trust. Australia’s reputation as a trusted and reliable partner has been an enormous asset to us on the international stage, just as a trustworthy reputation is an enormous asset to someone in business.

………….. . It was only a few years ago that our partnership with France was to be one for generations. As the sun set over Sydney Harbour in March 2018, from the deck of HMAS Canberra, President Macron described the partnership with Australia as the cornerstone of France’s Indo Pacific strategy. This was not just a contract to build submarines, it was a partnership between two nations in which France chose to entrust Australia with its most sensitive military secrets – the design of their latest submarines.

France is an Indo Pacific power. With two million citizens and 7,000 troops across the two oceans, drawing closer to France as a security partner made enormous sense both for us and the United States……….

Mr Morrison has not acted in good faith. He deliberately deceived France. He makes no defense of his conduct other than to say it was in Australia’s national interest. So, is that Mr Morrison’s ethical standard with which Australia is now tagged.: Australia will act honestly unless it is judged in our national interest to deceive?

It was as recently as 30 August that our Defence and Foreign Ministers met with their French counterparts and publicly re-emphasised the importance of the submarine programme. Two weeks later, on the day Mr Morrison dumped the President of France with a text message, the Department of Defence formally advised Naval Group that the project was on track and ready to enter into the next set of contracts.

The media has been gleefully briefed that Mr Morrison struck the deal with Boris Johnson and Joe Biden at the G20 in July shortly before going to Paris where the PM confirmed to President Macron his continuing commitment to the submarine deal.

France’s Foreign Minister has described Australia’s conduct as a stab in the back, a betrayal. Macron recalled his Ambassadors to Canberra and Washington. Dan Tehan can’t get a meeting with the French Trade Minister any more than he can with the Chinese Trade Minister.

France’s Europe Minister has already poured cold water on the prospects of concluding an EU-Australian free trade agreement. Australia has proved it can’t be trusted, he has said.

France believes it has been deceived and humiliated, and she was. This betrayal of trust will dog our relations with Europe for years. The Australian Government has treated the French Republic with contempt. It won’t be forgotten. Every time we seek to persuade another nation to trust us, somebody will be saying “Remember what they did to Macron? If they can throw France under a bus, what would they do to us?”

…………….. As Paul Kelly records[10] (with approbation), Scott Morrison deliberately and elaborately set out to persuade the French their deal was on foot and proceeding until he knew he had an alternative deal whereupon he dumped the French and his deceitful conduct was exposed………… https://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/address-to-the-national-press-club-september-2021

September 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

AUKUS and the nuclear submarines will have economic effects on Australia, and big defence spending.

Neglected in the flush of enthusiasm that accompanied the AUKUS announcement is the likely cost of Australia’s new defence spending under a “China containment policy”.

New drives to counter China come with a major risk: throwing fuel on the Indo-Pacific arms race  SMH, Tony Walker Tony Walker is a Friend of The Conversation.Vice-chancellor’s fellow, La Trobe UniversitySeptember 27, 2021 “……………….. Australian defence spending likely to rise

What is absolutely certain in all of this is that an Indo-Pacific security environment will now become more, not less, contentious.

SIPRI notes that in 2020, military spending in Asia totalled $US528 billion (A$725 billion), 62% of which was attributable to China and India.

IISS singled out Japan and Australia, in particular, as countries that were increasing defence spending to take account of China. Tokyo, for example, is budgeting for record spending of $US50 billion (A$68 billion) for 2022-23.

Australia’s defence spending stands a tick over 2% of GDP in 2021-22 at A$44.6 billion, with plans for further increases in the forward estimates.

However, those projections will now have to be re-worked given the commitments that have been made under AUKUS.

Neglected in the flush of enthusiasm that accompanied the AUKUS announcement is the likely cost of Australia’s new defence spending under a “China containment policy”. It is hard to see these commitments being realised without significant increases in defence allocations to 3-4% of GDP.

This comes at a time when budgets will already be stretched due to relief spending as a consequence of the pandemic.

In addition to existing weapons acquisitions, Canberra has indicated it will ramp up its purchases of longer-range weapons. This includes Tomahawk cruise missiles for its warships and anti-ship missiles for its fighter aircraft.

At the same time, it will work with the US under the AUKUS arrangement to develop hypersonic missiles that would test even the most sophisticated defence systems…………… 

The price tag for this in terms of equipment and likely continuing economic fallout for Australian exporters will not come cheap. ………….. https://theconversation.com/new-drives-to-counter-china-come-with-a-major-risk-throwing-fuel-on-the-indo-pacific-arms-race-168734

September 28, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment

Much posturing, but little content, on how AUKUS, and the nuclear submarines, will work

what does not make sense is a decision which, in essence, announces you are going to have a glorified interdepartmental committee look at whether it will actually work (the only missing ingredient from the Prime Minister’s usual modus operandi is mention of his department head Phil Gaetjens).

There are no details on just how this new alliance will work, but vast quantities of posturing, which is presumably designed to show the Chinese that we mean business.

However, a government desperate to avoid a referendum on pandemic management — and now threatened by challenges from independent candidates in blue-ribbon seats such as Kooyong and Wentworth over its inaction on climate change —— desperately needs something else to talk about.

Scott Morrison’s AUKUS submarine deal and ‘BFF theatre’ leaves Australia in a tricky spot,  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-25/missing-details-on-australia-uk-us-submarine-deal/1004905647.30 / By Laura Tingle Sat 25 Sep 2021   The federal Coalition have always been keen advocates of contracting things out.

It started in the Howard years, when the delivery of services was contracted out and, over the intervening years, spread to contracting out policy advice — from the public service to richly rewarded consultants who sometimes produce little more than vacuous PowerPoint presentations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the current government is willing to contract out responsibility for things such as quarantine, vaccines and vaccine-mandating rules to the states.

But who would ever have thought it would contract out our national security and defence strategy?

For, in a nutshell, that’s what has happened in the past week with the decision to embrace a new alliance with our old allies and “forever” friends, based on the decision to buy an (unspecified) nuclear submarine that will not go into service until 2040.

Capability gap

There is a vast amount to unpack in this decision, even amid a sense that, by the end of the week, the political caravan was moving on to climate change.

It is hard to think of a decision by Australia with such profound implications for our future that has been so redolent of symbolism, yet so completely lacking in substance.

A decision driven so much by valid concerns about defence capability, that leaves us so exposed as to not having any of that capability for the next 20 years — the time period when the power balance in our region is going to be decided.

In short, a massive strategic step-up announced to cover a massive capability gap.

The majority view in the political and strategic establishment in Australia says the strategic position has fundamentally shifted in the past five years and continues to rapidly evolve.

China’s capacity to scan the oceans, as well as both its military firepower and assertiveness, have all grown exponentially.

And most think that makes nuclear submarines, rather than conventionally powered ones, a rational decision.

It might also make sense to ramp-up your armaments — such as long-range Tomahawk Cruise Missiles — and talk of more US troops, planes and ships, and even British submarines, being based in Australia.

Looking to the US

However, what does not make sense is a decision which, in essence, announces you are going to have a glorified interdepartmental committee look at whether it will actually work (the only missing ingredient from the Prime Minister’s usual modus operandi is mention of his department head Phil Gaetjens).

There are no details on just how this new alliance will work, but vast quantities of posturing, which is presumably designed to show the Chinese that we mean business.

Things such as getting all our spooks to go to Washington this week.

Things such as emphasising the so-called Quad arrangement between the US, Australia, India and Japan, which makes it look like we have even more friends on our side.

Yet, when the Prime Minister holds a press conference in Washington DC ahead of the Quad meetings, what do you say it is about? Vaccines and energy policy.

No mention of China or strategic alliances here. And that sort of makes sense, given the constraints on Japanese military action, and that India has a very different take on Chinese issues to the Americans.

The implication in all this announcing is that the Americans are now committing to the region. That we can rely on Dad to sort out China for us.

All the talk of the new Cold War in the East raises obvious comparisons with the one in the West that occurred last century — and possibly even the crucial role the US played in Europe at that time.

Enduring questions

However, even among the more hawkish analysts, there is a gnawing question of how we (Australia) actually hold the feet of the Americans — and the British with their splendid history of reliable commitment to Asia and Australia in the 20th century — to the fire if things do indeed escalate with China.

And how do we now, on a day-to-day basis, differentiate ourselves from the US position on China when we have made so much not just of our operational dependence, but also of the whole “BFF theatre”?

This goes to questions of sovereign capability. That is, our capacity to run our own strategic policy, both in an operational sense and a diplomatic one.

Labor has backed the government’s decision on nuclear submarines with three caveats.

However, its foreign affairs spokesperson, Penny Wong, asked some valid questions on the point of sovereign capability in a speech on Thursday, such as: “How will we control the use of technology and capability that is not ours?”

“With the prospect of a higher level of technological dependence on the US, how does the Morrison-Joyce government assure Australians that we can act alone when need be; that we have the autonomy to defend ourselves, however and whenever we need to,” she said.

The alacrity and misrepresentation of Wong’s remarks by the Prime Minister in response only added to the suspicion that there is just a tad too much politics in the way this momentous dogleg in the country’s strategic position has been undertaken.
“Well, I think Australians would be puzzled as to why there can be bipartisan support for this initiative in the United States and within days, within days, the Labor Party seems to be having an each-way bet,” he said.

You can see why Labor has chosen to just stay as far away from this issue as it can, within the constraints of a responsibility to set out some reasonable questions about strategy, rather than nuclear submarines per se.

It is determined not to get wedged as it once was on Tampa.

The fallout

Labor’s determination not to get wedged may have taken away some of the political dividends of this huge shift, as has the debacle over informing the French of the decision, which has embarrassed not just Australia but the US.

And, of course, the Prime Minister’s ever-changing descriptions of how he had informed France’s Emmanuel Macron that he was tearing up a multi-billion dollar contract has been, well, just embarrassing.

“What I said was, is that I made direct contact with him,” he said in Washington on Thursday.

Having been unable to get Macron on the phone the night before the announcement, he said he “directly messaged him Australia’s decision in a personal correspondence”. 

Australia dumped France, it appears, in a text message: A modus operandi more usually associated with 14-year-olds.

The nuclear subs decision may have all sorts of ramifications, from halting negotiations on a European Free Trade Agreement to entertaining prospects for cooperation between the US and China on climate change.

Its complexities are not best teased out in the lead-up to an election.

However, a government desperate to avoid a referendum on pandemic management — and now threatened by challenges from independent candidates in blue-ribbon seats such as Kooyong and Wentworth over its inaction on climate change — desperately needs something else to talk about.

September 27, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

$1.4 million election war chest, here’s how it will be spent for climate action with genuinely clean energy


$1.4 million election war chest, here’s how it will be spent

Climate 200 is an initiative co-founded by Simon Holmes a Court, clean energy advocate and son of corporate raider Robert and philantropist and businesswoman Janet. It will support progressive independents at the next federal election, building on the success of the likes of Zali Steggall.

September 27, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Sutherland Shire doesn’t want any more nuclear waste stored at Lucas Heights in their Shire

Council calls on Hughes MP to take stand against ANSTO nuclear waste expansion plan St George and Sutherland Shire Leader

Sutherland Shire Council is calling “in the strongest terms” for Hughes MP Craig Kelly to take a stand against a proposed new nuclear waste facility at ANSTO, Lucas Heights.

Mayor Steve Simpson told this week’s council meeting, “I would like to see less of his medical skills [COVID comments] and much more of an assertion that the [nuclear] waste should not be kept in his electorate”.

Mr Kelly hit back, accusing councillors of “scaremongering”.

The council unanimously resolved that, while continuing to support research and innovation at ANSTO and its benefits for treatments for cancer and in nuclear medicine, a submission be made to the independent regulator ARPANSA opposing the construction of an Intermediate Level Waste Capacity Increase (ILWCI) facility at the Lucas Heights campus.

A letter will also be written to the federal Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt, requesting the matter of the establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility be given urgent priority.

The final part of the motion stated: “Council puts in the strongest term Cr Michael Forshaw, a former senator, said previous MPs for Hughes, Robert Tickner and Danna Vale, “were strong on this issue in pushing the need for a permanent repository, or store, for our nuclear waste”…………. https://www.theleader.com.au/story/7435883/updated-council-challenges-craig-kelly-over-nuclear-waste/?fbclid=IwAR1dY5en839aPPJMae32D-5ivaPFQR7CWpn0sLX2lih3slzz4

September 25, 2021 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarines must be ‘subject to rigorous parliamentary review’: Senator Rex Patrick

There are many significant issues that will need to be properly considered and I fear that they haven’t yet.

“The Senate foreign affairs, defence and trade references committee will need to undertake a wide ranging and rigorous inquiry to inform government, opposition, the Parliament and most importantly the Australian people before the next election

Nuclear submarines must be ‘subject to rigorous parliamentary review’: Senator Rex Patrick,   https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/maritime-antisub/8762-nuclear-submarines-must-be-subject-to-rigorous-parliamentary-review-senator-rex-patrick    24 Sept 21, South Australian senator Rex Patrick called on the Senate foreign affairs, defence and trade references committee to open an inquiry into the Commonwealth’s recent submarine announcement.

“This is a very big strategic decision with long-term national security, geopolitical, and economic consequences that must be the subject to rigorous and wide-ranging scrutiny,” Senator Patrick said.

“In these circumstances the Senate foreign affairs, defence and trade references committee should open an immediate inquiry to ensure that all the angles, including alternative conventionally-powered submarine procurement options, are fully explored and understood. The committee should produce an initial report prior to the federal election.

“I’ve been a strong critic of the French submarine deal. The delays and cost overruns are huge and unacceptable.

But we have to be careful we don’t move from one massive procurement disaster into something else that hasn’t been thought through properly.

“There are huge uncertainties about this announcement – including the selection of a US or British submarine, numbers, cost and schedule of acquisition and delivery.

“The proposed initial US-UK-Australia joint study to be undertaken over the next 18 months is a prudent step and will mean that further decisions will take place after Australia’s election.”

As reported by Defence Connect, the key points of the details are as follows:

  • Australia is expected to become the only non-nuclear nation to possess nuclear submarine capabilities;
  • Australia, UK and US expected to undertake knowledge sharing to enable the Royal Australian Navy to attain a nuclear powered fleet, the first time such knowledge sharing has taken place in over six decades;
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the submarines will be built in Adelaide, Australia;
  • Creation of new “trilateral security dialogue” with Australia, UK and US;
  • Naval Group expressed their disappointment with the decision, defending the capabilities of the Attack Class Submarine.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia plans to build a fleet of nuclear submarines with the support of the US and UK, which the PM confirmed alongside his UK and US counterparts in a press conference this morning.

The once-in-a-generation technology sharing and support agreement forms part of a new “trilateral security partnership” between the countries dubbed AUKUS.

Although, Senator Patrick outlined that the current proposal will prove difficult for the Australian Defence Force and Commonwealth government without a domestic nuclear power capability.

“Either way there would be nuclear reactors sitting on hard-stands at Osborne and moored in the Port River,” he said.

“Acquiring, operating and maintaining a nuclear submarine fleet without a domestic nuclear power industry is a challenge that must not be underestimated.

“The nuclear safety and non-proliferation safeguards issues are unquestionably complex and likely to be controversial.

This proposed project would also most likely require new treaty level agreements with the United States and/or the United Kingdom, requiring congressional and parliamentary approval.

“There are many significant issues that will need to be properly considered and I fear that they haven’t yet.

“The Senate foreign affairs, defence and trade references committee will need to undertake a wide ranging and rigorous inquiry to inform government, opposition, the Parliament and most importantly the Australian people before the next election.”

September 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

The massive subsidy to nuclear submarines must not be used to justify subsidy to nuclear power

the massive public subsidy of this project must not be used to justify the much greater risks of nuclear power.

Australia is blessed with a bounty of sun and wind, and is well on the way to achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030, even without government help. No matter which way you look at it, nuclear power in Australia makes no sense at all.

Yes, Australia is buying a fleet of nuclear submarines. But nuclear-powered electricity must not come next  https://theconversation.com/yes-australia-is-buying-a-fleet-of-nuclear-submarines-but-nuclear-powered-electricity-must-not-come-next-168110
Ian Lowe
, Emeritus Professor, School of Science, Griffith UniversitySeptember 20, 2021   The federal government on Thursday announced a landmark defence pact with the United States and United Kingdom that involves this nation acquiring nuclear-powered submarines. The question of nuclear submarines in Australia has been bubbling along for some time – and with it, whether we should also develop a nuclear energy sector.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted the defence deal did not mean Australia would look to develop a civil nuclear capability.

But there is strong support within Coalition ranks for a homegrown nuclear power industry. And the Minerals Council of Australia on Thursday quickly pointed out the “opportunity” the submarine announcement created for expanding nuclear technology in Australia.

The submarine announcement is sure to trigger a new round of debate on whether nuclear energy is right for Australia. But let’s be clear: the technology makes no sense for Australia, economically or politically, and would not be a timely response to climate change.

A twin discussion

The topics of nuclear submarines and nuclear energy are often discussed in tandem.

The technology is similar: the energy source for a nuclear submarine is basically a miniature version of that for a power station. And a similar supply chain is needed for mining and processing uranium, fuelling the reactor and managing waste. That also means both technologies require similar skills and regulatory frameworks.

The Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable on Thursday responded to the submarine announcement, pointing out the apparent synergies with nuclear power:

This is an incredible opportunity for Australia’s economy – not only will we develop the skills and infrastructure to support this naval technology, but it connects us to the growing global nuclear power industry and its supply chains.

Now that Australia is acquiring nuclear submarines which use small reactors, there is no reason why Australia should not be considering [small modular reactors] for civilian use.

A former commander of Australia’s submarine force, Denis Mole, in April also questioned why Australia doesn’t have a larger and more diverse nuclear industry.

Mole argued that of the top 20 world economies, all have nuclear power except Australia, Italy and Saudi Arabia. And as nations commit to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 “it’s noteworthy that no major economy intends doing so without nuclear power in the mix”, he said.

And in February this year, Lindsay Hughes, a senior analyst in the Indo-Pacific program of research organisation Future Directions International, also suggested Australia should develop a nuclear power sector to support a nuclear submarine fleet.

Hughes argued a nuclear power sector would provide skills that could be transferred into the military domain, including nuclear-powered submarines, saying:

A nuclear power sector would demand university graduates with skills in engineering, physics and mathematics, the same skills and skill levels that the US Navy requires to operate its nuclear submarines. Australian graduates with similar skills could be employed on Australian nuclear-powered submarines.

Hughes concluded a nuclear power sector “could potentially provide much of the foundational skills required to maintain and operate a nuclear-power submarine fleet”.

 That really is the military tail wagging the electricity industry dog.

Nuclear power is not the logical next step

Even if there’s agreement Australia needs nuclear submarines patrolling the South China Sea, there is no logical jump for a nuclear power sector to support that activity.

In an opinion piece in March this year, former defence minister Christopher Pyne wrote that without nuclear energy, Australia could not support nuclear submarines – but establishing the former would be difficult. He went on:

Australia does not have a nuclear industry. One cannot be created overnight. Even if there was the political will to create one, which there isn’t, what political party is going to waste its political capital on creating a legislative framework for a nuclear industry that can sustain nuclear submarines, that has zero chance of passing any Upper House in any jurisdiction in Australia.

A nuclear industry in Australia would need a solution for the safe storage and disposal of high-level radioactive waste – this appears unlikely, given the public opposition to establishing a site to dispose of even low-level nuclear waste in Australia.

And research suggests there would be little community support for nuclear power – especially following the Fukushima disaster – let alone a community willing to host a reactor.

The decision to build nuclear submarines raises a new set of issues about uranium processing, fuel fabrication and waste management. The Morrison government needs to tell the community how these will be managed.

What’s more, while nuclear power may have once been cheaper than wind or solar, the economics have since changed dramatically.

Nuclear power plants are very expensive to build and the economics of nuclear power are getting steadily worse. By contrast, renewables continue to come down in price.

Over the past 20 years, new nuclear reactors have struggled to establish a business case in any OECD country, with the potential exception of South Korea. The world has obviously made its decision on nuclear: last year 192 gigawtts of renewables came on line, compared with a net 3 gigawatts of nuclear power.

The future is renewables

Australia’s 2009 Defence White Paper noted the federal government had ruled out nuclear propulsion for submarines. Now the federal government will outlay huge amounts of money establishing the framework for the technology.

However, the massive public subsidy of this project must not be used to justify the much greater risks of nuclear power.

Australia is blessed with a bounty of sun and wind, and is well on the way to achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030, even without government help. No matter which way you look at it, nuclear power in Australia makes no sense at all.

September 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, technology | Leave a comment

USA has conned Australia into paying for its super-costly nuclear submarine project

Last week’s AUKUS announcement was nothing more than PR stunt in Australia, with the government merely committing to spend the next 18 months deciding what to buy—which conveniently kicks any actual the decision far enough down the road to avoid the next federal election. 

Has PM put Australia on the hook to finance struggling UK, US submarine projects? Michael West Media, By Marcus Reubenstein| September 23, 2021,

“Almost comical”. Experts lambast Scott Morrison’s “crazy” AUKUS deal to buy nuclear submarine tech from parlous UK and US programs. Marcus Reubenstein finds a real prospect Australia will be used to “underwrite” the foundering foreign submarine industry.

Twenty-five years of ongoing maintenance delays for nuclear submarines, chronic shortage of both parts and skilled workers, under capacity at shipyards, and attack class submarines missing from deployments for up to nine months. These sound like potential problems for Australia’s future nuclear submarine fleet but they are actual problems right now confronting the US Navy and its fleet of 70 submarines.

The US is at the cutting edge of nuclear propulsion. It has the largest and most sophisticated submarine fleet in the world, its first nuclear submarine was commissioned 67 years ago, and the US has literally decommissioned twice as many nuclear subs as Australia is planning to buy. 

If the US cannot manage to keep its fleet in the water, how can the Morrison government commit up to $100 billion of taxpayer money to secure nuclear submarines and guarantee they will be always operational and ready for deployment?

Professor Hugh White, ANU Professor of Strategic Studies, former Deputy Secretary of Defence and an eminent figure in strategic policy, wrote in The Saturday Paper, “The old plan was to build a conventionally powered version of a nuclear-powered French submarine. It was crazy.”

“The new plan—to buy a nuclear-powered submarine instead—is worse”. 

Says White, “There is a reason why only six countries, all of them nuclear-armed, operate nuclear powered subs.”

The sales pitch is underway 

Last week’s AUKUS announcement was nothing more than PR stunt in Australia, with the government merely committing to spend the next 18 months deciding what to buy—which conveniently kicks any actual the decision far enough down the road to avoid the next federal election. 

The ripples of the announcement, however, reached British shores in double-quick time. Just two days after the AUKUS alliance UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallis announced a $320 million (£170m) grant to be shared between BAE Systems and Rolls Royce to develop technology for Britain’s next generation submarines. 

According to Department of Finance figures, In the past twelve months BAE Systems has collected $1.88 billion from Australian taxpayers. The Astute class submarine, touted as one of the two options Australia is considering, is manufactured by BAE Systems. 

US Naval analyst, and Forbes Defense columnist, Craig Hooper predicts AUKUS could give the US Navy a big shot in the arm as well. He says a deal with Australia could effectively underwrite major improvements to the US Navy’s outdated submarine maintenance facilities by supporting “America’s decade-long, $US25 billion ($34.6 billion) effort to refit the U.S. Navy’s four aging public shipyards. With yard repair costs already high, America would go to great lengths to welcome any additional bidders for shipyard capability improvements.”

US subs in dry dock In a report published six months ago, the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found: “The Navy’s four shipyards have experienced significant delays in completing maintenance on its submarines (all of which are nuclear-powered).” ………. Should Australia go down the nuclear sub path what choice will it have other than to outsource the fleet’s maintenance?   …..

Her Majesty’s sub optimal fleet

Britain, touted as the alternative nuclear submarine supplier to Australia, has problems of its own. The Royal Navy operates ten submarines, only four of them were designed and commissioned this century. 

Like their American nuclear counterparts there are systemic problems keeping these subs in service……

That report also indicated significant delays to the BAE Systems built Astute hunter-killer submarines, the same class of nuclear submarine being touted for Australian as part of the AUKUS deal………. https://www.michaelwest.com.au/has-pm-put-australia-on-the-hook-to-finance-struggling-uk-us-submarine-projects/

September 23, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment