Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia: stop being blindly aligned with nuclear weapons nations: sign the treaty!

Tomorrow The World Is Going To Try And Ban Nuclear Weapons. Australia Wants To Keep Them. New Matilda, By Rewena Mahesh on A global push to save the world from a nuclear armageddon has the backing of more than 120 nations. Australia isn’t one of them. Rewena Mahesh explains.

On July 7, a global treaty was adopted at the UN General Assembly to prohibit nuclear weapons. This treaty now sets precedence for a powerful norm that will change the course of history by helping promote disarmament and preventing further proliferation.

This treaty closes a large international law gap, by prohibiting states from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using, or threatening to use nuclear weapons once ratified by 50 states.

That will happen tomorrow, on the 20th of September.

Despite an overwhelming 122 countries endorsing the treaty, strongly and actively supported by hundreds of civic society organizations including the World Medical Association, Medical Association for Prevention of War, the World Federation of Public Health Associations, nine member countries that possess nuclear weapons and most NATO allies boycotted the agreement.

Shamefully, one of those countries absent from negotiations and which played a role in boycotting the treaty is Australia. We fall under the nuclear protection of the USA.

While Australia, possesses no nuclear weapons, it is a major producer and supplier of uranium used in the production of nuclear arsenals for the US and British military and most recently Russia, China and India.

Australia has had a long history with nuclear testing, hosting the British in the 1950s and 60s to conduct 12 major nuclear tests which dispersed radiation across much of the continent. In particular site workers and Aboriginal communities nearby have been suffering the consequences of radiation, seen in high rates of cancer with very little compensation, and a lack of capacity to use traditional land due to contamination.

As a result of Australia hosting the US military and intelligence facilities, such as Pine Gap near Alice Springs, we are offered protection in the face of a nuclear threat, under the extended nuclear deterrence, and thus consider nuclear weapons to be legitimate, useful and necessary despite their devastating and catastrophic effects……..

Given the current volatile environment with unpredictable leaders, the only guarantee we have against the spread and use of nuclear weapons is to eliminate them completely.

Indiscriminate weapons such as landmines, biological and chemical weapons, and cluster munitions which have all been permanently banned are increasingly accepted as illegitimate, and are losing their political status.

It is thus difficult to acquire resources for the production and modernisation of a prohibited weapon by companies or governments. It is then hoped that by eliminating nuclear weapons, this forms the new norm globally and they too will lose their legitimacy and political status in due course.

Nuclear weapons are also an ineffective means of combating almost all issues globally and nationally, such as cyber warfare, climate change, poverty, antimicrobial resistance etc.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) showed that 84 per cent of Australians surveyed wanted the government to support the efforts of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Australia still has the opportunity to be on the right side of history by signing the treaty tomorrow.

Australia needs to be at the forefront of global efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and not be misled by the notion of extended nuclear deterrence under the protection of the US.

Australia needs to look across the Tasman to its neighbour New Zealand, which for decades has remained an ally of the US, but has had an independent foreign policy.

Instead of blindly aligning ourselves with the nuclear policies of the US, Australia needs to consider the devastating health and social consequences of nuclear weapons and sign the treaty to increase credibility in the region and make the world a safer place. https://newmatilda.com/2017/09/19/tomorrow-the-world-will-adopt-a-treaty-banning-nuclear-weapons-australia-wont-be-there/

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September 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

An Australian to be proud of – Dr Tilman Ruff

“What’s your alternative?” CommonSpace talks to anti-nuclear expert Dr Tilman Ruff Ahead of the UN signing of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, CommonSpace discusses disarmament with Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Dr Tilman Ruff

THE TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS was passed by the United Nations in July after being voted for by 122 countries, making it the first legally-binding international agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons.

This historic development came about amid heavy opposition from the nuclear-armed states and rising tensions between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, who have warned that recent sanctions will only accelerate the North Korean nuclear programme.

On 20 September, the ban treaty will be open for signature at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Once the treaty is ratified by at least 50 countries, it should come into force within 90 days.

One among many of the anti-nuclear activists who brought the treaty to this point was Dr Tilman Ruff, co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which collectively received a Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts towards disarmament in 1985, and founding member of the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

Following his speaking engagement in Edinburgh earlier this month at an event organised by Scrap Trident and the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (SCND), where he discussed the devastating human and ecological cost of even “limited” nuclear war, CommonSpace spoke with Dr Ruff about the treaty, the opposition its proponents have faced, and political strategies towards disarmament.

Despite the success of the treaty, Dr Ruff warns that progress is not being made quickly enough. “In the face of nuclear dangers that are clearly growing, with no real substantial progress for disarmament underway or even talked about at this point, and with flashpoints around the world where the rhetoric is becoming more aggressive and more around explicit threats to use nuclear weapons, certainly the dangers are growing,” said Dr Ruff.

He added: “So the progress we’re making is lagging badly, and really needs to escalate. It’s abundantly clear that if nuclear weapons are maintained, eventually they will be used.

“There’s some real urgency about this, but I think in some ways the hope is born out of the growing danger.”

Discussing how the treaty came about after so many years of stalled progress, Dr Ruff indicated that a change in attitude had taken place on an international scale, he said: “There’s a widespread appreciation by most of the world’s governments that nuclear disarmament is not happening.

“The nuclear armed states are not fulfilling their obligations almost half a century after the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) was concluded and formally enshrined in international law.

“There’s enormous frustration about that, and that’s certainly been a drive for the ban treaty, and I think that’s why it could be achieved so quickly and decisively.

As a world-renowned expert in his field who has been campaigning against nuclear weapons for over 30 years, Dr Ruff believes “the treaty really is quite strong. It’s a clear, categorical rejection of nuclear weapons, but it does also anticipate the desire to use this opportunity not just to create a formal legal prohibition, but to encourage and map out the path towards elimination.

‘There’s a way for every state to join this treaty. No state can say “It’s not relevant to us.” Whether you’ve had nuclear weapons, have them now, have them stationed on your soil, or are aligned with a nuclear armed state, there are pathways for you to join.”

The treaty was formulated with historical precedents in mind, Dr Ruff explained. “We’ve seen with the other weapons prohibitions, how significant their impact has been, even for the states that haven’t signed them, and how for every class of inhumane weapon, the pathway has been: prohibit, enshrine that norm in law, and then progress to elimination.

“It is very hopeful that approach is now being applied to nuclear weapons. But the harder work of using that to drive elimination is what we all face………

Describing what he knew of the pressures imposed by the nuclear-armed states, Dr Ruff said: “I’m only aware of the tip of the iceberg. Only South Africa was willing to speak up and say there had been relentless pressure, but we know many countries got very strong pressure – a division of labour amongst the nuclear-armed states, with France taking responsibility for the Francophone West African states, the US doing the same for Latin America, in particular.

“Given that the treaty now exists, the issue isn’t going away, and I hope the strong global majority that supports this – pretty much all of the states apart from the nuclear-armed ones and their allies.

“The numbers are overwhelming. Certainly, for individual governments, there may well be consequences and further pressure, but I think the cat’s out of the bag now. And there’s every indication there will be a large number of states signing on 20 September, and I think the goal of around 100 signatures by the end of this year is pretty realistic. I don’t think this is now stoppable…….

Asked whether political parties’ positions on nuclear weapons should be at the forefront of voters’ minds, Doctor Ruff answered: “I would hope it would again become so, as it was a significant factor in earlier decades.

“It’s obviously only one of the many issues people think about when they vote, but it is crucial. The impact of the treaty we can already see – for example, in the willingness of the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany to come out very strongly in support of the removal of US nuclear weapons in Germany.

“The fact that’s clearly being articulated by the alternative leader in Germany is probably a direct result of the ban treaty.

“This is not just an idea now. This is a treaty. It exists – what are you going to do?

“If you say you’re serious about disarmament, what’s your alternative, irreversible, time-bound, verifiable plan for disarmament? And if you haven’t got a credible one, you should be thinking about this treaty.”https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/11741/whats-your-alternative-commonspace-talks-anti-nuclear-expert-dr-tilman-ruff

September 20, 2017 Posted by | weapons and war | Leave a comment

When Adelaide got hit by Maralinga nuclear radiation fallout

Fallout map from the day Adelaide got hit hard, 11 Oct 1956 …

I was luckily living elsewhere at the time, in NSW … I do remember having bad nose bleeds … we moved to Adelaide a few years later so many of my school and uni and work and sport mates and their mothers were in the thick of the fallout from the British bomb test called Buffalo 3 .. and there are many sad stories of retarded siblings and congenital cardiac issues and early cancers.

QUOTE:
In 1956 a series of atomic tests were carried out in the far north of the state at Maralinga, including the dropping of a bomb from a plane on October 11th, with devastating impacts on nearby Aboriginal communities.

Australian Atomic Confessions [Full Documentary]

Retired academic Roger Cross’s book “Fallout” focuses on the drift of radiation many hundred kilometres south of the site to Adelaide.

“Fortunately for South Australia it was rather a small bomb, but it was dropped from a Valiant Bomber and was designed to explode in the air which it did do,” Mr Cross told Ian Henschke on 891 ABC Adelaide mornings.

“Part of the cloud blew south towards Adelaide and the minor cloud then blew east as it was supposed to across largely uninhabitated areas towards the towns of Sydney and Brisbane and exit Australia between those two cities.

“But the main part of the cloud actually blew down south towards Adelaide and there was great controversy about that,” he said.

Mr Cross says this wasn’t admitted to at the time, causing great controversy.

He says authorities didn’t realise a man called Hedley Marston who was involved with the tests, checking thyroids of sheep and cattle around the area, also set up a secret experiment at the CSIRO building in Adelaide.

Mr Marston recorded a level of 98 thousand counts per hundred seconds the day after the bomb had been dropped.

“The average count in Adelaide at that time was between 40 and 60 counts per hundred seconds,” said Mr Cross.

Mr Marston also carried out some tests on sheep just south and north of Adelaide, finding elevated levels of radiation material in the sheep that were on pasture but not in others that had eaten hay cut the year before.

“This was a very elegant experiment because by luck he had a control, he had this group of sheep that were penned under cover that were just eating hay from previous harvests.”

Mr Cross says Hedley Marston was concerned about strontium 90 in particular and it getting into milk and then being consumed by young children and pregnant women.

Silent Storm atomic testing in Australia

Anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott entered medical school in Adelaide in 1956 and told Ian Henschke there was no mention of a possible health impact of the tests, and she is not aware of a study of the human population following that test.

“We the population of Adelaide were kept in ignorance and for that I feel very bad about that as a doctor.”

She says you would have to test all the population exposed to radiation throughout their entire life and compare it to people who were not exposed to know if the incidence of cancer was high.

“My prediction is definitely I’m sure it was but we don’t have any evidence.

“Adelaide got a hell of a fallout, and I must say as a young medical student not being taught about that I have deep resentment that the public was not informed about it,” said Dr Caldicott.

(Quote from http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2011/03/21/3169570.htm )

(Map is a detail from https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/…/allowable-lifetime-…/ )

 

September 16, 2017 Posted by | history, reference, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Whether or not Trump is sane, Australia will follow him into nuclear war

Australia is being dragged into US wars, Green Left  TONY ILTIS, September 9, 2017The threat of nuclear annihilation is closer than at any time since the end of the Cold War as two heads of state use nuclear weapons as props in what looks like a fight between two adolescent boys.

On one side is a narcissistic bully, born to inherit great power and with credible reports that his personal life includes indulging in acts of sadism, whose policies in government are driven by a combination of xenophobia, ego and whim and who is threatening nuclear Armageddon if he doesn’t get his way.

On the other side is North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

In a situation where Russia’s belligerent President Vladimir Putin is able to play the role of a level-headed voice of sanity, some Western countries are distancing themselves from US President Donald Trump, or at least urging caution. But not Australia……

Since the 1940s, Australian governments of both parties have been keen to promote Australia as Washington’s most loyal ally, regardless of the sanity of the incumbent US president. The policy is based on the premise that if Australia unquestioningly follows the US into any war, the US, the world’s most powerful imperialist state, will look after Australian capitalists’ global interests.

This policy has led to Australian involvement in numerous wars, from Korea in the 1950s, and Vietnam in the ’60s and ’70s, to more recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. This policy has also allowed Australian mining companies to operate across the globe, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Romania and Chile, making huge profits at a horrific cost to the environment, workers and local communities.

The devastation wrought by the Korean War is the reason for the North Korean regime’s xenophobic paranoia. While the media generally portrays Kim Jong-un as mad, and provides no further explanation for North Korea’s nuclear program, the fact that Iran continues to suffer sanctions despite abandoning its nuclear weapons program and Iraq was invaded after getting rid of its weapons of mass destruction, points to some rationality in North Korea’s approach.

It also points to grotesque hypocrisy on the part of the West: the largest nuclear powers declaring that it is unacceptable for other countries to have nuclear weapons. North Korea was not responsible for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it has not used the populations of any Pacific Island nations as guinea pigs in nuclear tests.

On July 8, when the UN General Assembly supported a resolution to ban nuclear weapons, Australia joined the nuclear powers in boycotting the session.

On July 21, Trump announced an escalation of the US presence in Afghanistan. Attempting to portray his policy as distinct from his predecessors’, he said the US role in Afghanistan would now be “killing terrorists” not nation building……..https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/australia-being-dragged-us-wars

September 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Australia’s naval defence interests aiming for nuclear submarines, eventually?

Dan Monceaux Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 8 September 2017.

Naval defence interests (including ADF, ASC, DCNS, Thales) in the Port Adelaide area are expanding their presences as Australia’s Future Submarine Program advances. DCNS was awarded the contract in April 2016. The Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A was the chosen design.

The French fleet of Barracuda class submarines is being fitted with nuclear propulsion, provided by Areva. The Australian build is expected to use diesel propulsion, but the prospect of a hybrid (some diesel propelled, some nuclear) has been speculated upon.https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/

September 11, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How Australia increases nuclear weapons proliferation risks

Australia has uranium export agreements in place with all of the five ‘declared’ nuclear weapons states – the US, Russia, China, France and the UK – although none of these countries take seriously their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation-Treaty to pursue nuclear disarmament.

IAEA safeguards inspections in the declared weapons states are voluntary and, in general, tokenistic.

Australia, along with the weapons states, boycotted recent negotiations on a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted by the United Nations in early July.

Australia has fallen into the trap of bending over backwards to support its allies on an international scale, and subordinating non-proliferation objectives to the commercial interests of the (mostly foreign-owned) uranium companies operating in Australia.

Australia’s contribution to nuclear proliferation risks, Bridget Mitchell and Jim Green, 6 Sept 2017, Online Opinion   www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19268&page=0   Once again, the world finds itself in a dangerous place as one mad-man explodes increasingly powerful nuclear weapons and another mad-man threatens North Korea with “fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

There appears to be no solution to the North Korean problem. Diplomacy, threats and sanctions have not been effective. Military intervention would likely result in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people on both sides of the 38th parallel ‒ with or without the use of nuclear weapons.

Australia isn’t to blame for the dangerous and escalating situation in North Korea but it’s worth reflecting on how we ‒ or more to the point, how successive governments ‒ have made the world a more dangerous place.

According to the World Nuclear Association, from the 1950s until the 1970s, Australia’s uranium was “primarily intended for US and UK weapons programs”. Although we no longer supply uranium for weapons production, Australia does contribute to proliferation risks. Continue reading

September 6, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A nuclear bomb: effects on each of Australia’s major cities

The good news for Australians and the world at large is that North Korea has no intention of using its nuclear arsenal.

North Korea has a very limited nuclear arsenal, and does not view Australia as a particularly worthy adversary. If they can reach Melbourne or Sydney, they could also reach the mainland United States, which would prove a more tempting target.

So even if Kim Jong-un were to push the button, it’s very unlikely the missiles will be aimed at Australia.

What North Korea’s nukes would do to Australia’s cities http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/09/06/12/03/what-north-korea-nuclear-bombs-would-do-to-australian-cities, By Nick Pearson, Sep 6, 2017 North Korea would be capable of killing tens of thousands of Australians instantly if they target one of our cities in a nuclear attack.

A 100 kiloton bomb was detonated under a mountain in North Korea over the weekend, and it would be capable of an extraordinary amount of damage if it targeted an urban area.

US academic Alex Wellerstein created a piece of software that estimates the scale of a nuclear attack on various locations.

At present only Darwin is potentially within the range of North Korea’s missiles. The regime also has not developed the technology to put a nuclear warhead on such a missile, so these estimations are at present, hypothetical.

The bomb tested by North Korea on Sunday would kill an estimated 126,000 people straight away if dropped in the heart of Sydney.

If the bomb landed in Pitt Street Mall, it would create a fireball wide enough to destroy state parliament, St Mary’s Cathedral, Wynyard Station and Town Hall.

The air blast radius would flatten just about every building in the CBD, stretching from Circular Quay to Elizabeth Bay.

A slower death from radiation poisoning would affect up to 90 percent of people in the wider blast radius stretching from Kirribilli to Balmain to the University of Sydney.

Victims from Newtown to Taronga Zoo would suffer third-degree burns as part of the thermal radiation radius.

But survival outside the blast zone is reliant on the strength and direction of the wind. Continue reading

September 6, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s defence forces to buy lethal drones from US nuclear weapons maker General Atomics?

Dan Monceaux Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia   3 September 2017.

General Atomics popped up in the news yesterday, but their name wasn’t mentioned in the news report I saw. Apparently, Australia’s defence forces are interested in acquiring Reaper drones with lethal capabilities.

General Atomics already has a presence in South Australia through their ownership of two uranium mining projects. Their subsidiary companies are Quasar Resources and Heathgate Resources- both operate in-situ leach operations in the Frome Basin area: at Four Mile and Beverley https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/

September 6, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The dilemma of North Korea’s nuclear weapons

North Korea: What can actually be done to deal with a nuclear Pyongyang? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-03/north-korea-is-it-time-to-accept-it-will-remain-a-nuclear-threat/8868138, ANALYSIS,  By chief foreign correspondent Philip Williams, From the first tweak of the seismograph it was clear this was no ordinary tremor — it signalled the most powerful bomb of all.

The North Korean TV newsreader announced with a flourish this was the state’s first hydrogen bomb.If that now means Pyongyang has the weapon and the delivery system that could wipe out a Los Angeles, a San Francisco or a Sydney in a flash, then the world is now a different place.

Nuclear weapons are supposed to be a deterrent — make yourself so dangerous no-one will ever dare challenge you — and it is a fact that barring some Scuds aimed at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War and some border skirmishes between China and Vietnam and India and Pakistan, no nuclear-armed state has ever faced a serious attack by another country.

Clearly the thinking for three generations of Kim is that the regime is made safe if everyone fears you. And the clear impression you are crazy helps too — no-one wants to aggravate a disturbed mind.

But what to do? US President Donald Trump has described the test as hostile and dangerous and said Pyongyang “only understands one thing”.

Appeasement was not working, he said, and the rogue nation has become a “great threat and embarrassment” to China. He later tweeted the US was considering “stopping trade with any country doing business with North Korea”.

That would include both China and Russia. While both signed on to the latest UN sanctions, cutting trade altogether would be a far more serious step.

Beijing would have to cut off oil supplies and Moscow send back the North Korean labourers who “volunteer” to work in Siberian forestry camps in what have been described as slave-like conditions.

The whole region and beyond is in a fix. China especially is feeling the squeeze from the United States, and even Australia has argued Beijing has not applied full muscle against North Korea to mend its errant ways.

But the Chinese Government has agreed to the latest sanctions and deeply resents the assertion it could stop Kim Jong-un if it really wanted to. There is nothing for the Chinese to gain from a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.

Not only would there be the risk of nuclear contamination, what really worries Beijing is the thought of millions of refugees pouring over the border seeking shelter from a nuclear storm. Not to mention the terrible human and economic cost of shattered neighbours.

The constant refrain from Mr Trump and Malcolm Turnbull for China to do more and do it now could soon become counterproductive. Beijing’s influence on North Korea’s leadership is often overstated.

Its troublesome neighbour has repeatedly embarrassed China by testing bombs or missiles at an inopportune moment. This latest test happened at the opening of a major BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) conference held in China and hosted by President Xi Jinping.

Not only was his thunder stolen, he and guest Vladimir Putin were forced to issue a joint statement condemning the test but urging a negotiated solution. Mr Trump underlined that via a tweet, saying: “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”

For his part, the US leader has wedged himself with rhetoric — it was only a couple of days ago he said the time for talking was over. But what does that leave?

The US military will have its plans ready, just in case. And Mr Trump is the only person with power to order what would be the destruction of North Korea. Is he really contemplating the death of millions, the ruin of cites on both sides of the 38th parallel?

Only if North Korea crosses his red lines. Do they exist in the seas off Guam, Hawaii, or the West coast of the mainland itself?

Surely Mr Kim and his predecessors have not come all this way to self-destruct. After all, these bombs and missiles are supposed to protect, not trigger an end game conflict. No party to this conundrum wants this to happen.

But the scene is set, the main players less than predictable and the talk tough. North Korea will never willingly trade away its newfound military clout, it is seen as vital for survival, but successive US presidents have made it clear they will never live with a nuclear armed and able North Korea.

It is a country that revels in regular threats to wipe out entire US cities. It is no longer trash talk that can be ignored and no-one, it seems, has a plausible answer.

One commentator suggested arming both South Korea and Japan with nuclear weapons to act as a foil to the North. That would mean five countries in the region with the ability to erase entire cities from the planet.

Our once relatively safe and increasingly prosperous neighbourhood is taking a serious turn for the worse. Only two people on the planet can change all that, and neither is showing signs there is a safe way out.

Asked by a reporter if the US would attack North Korea, Mr Trump said: “We’ll see.”

September 4, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia should join Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty – theme for September 17

 

 

Australia can show the leadership that it once had, in the movement towards a sane and peaceful world.

Our opportunity comes this month. The legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of nuclear weapons. will open for signature and ratification on September 20th at the United Nations. It will come into effect if at least 50 nations sign and ratify it.

Australia was not among the 122 nations who signed up for this United Nations treaty, in July 17. Indeed, under the craven rule of Turnbull’s cowardly coalition, – we even tried to sabotage the treaty!

Time to stop Australia’s mindless sucking up to America – especially now, as USA is in the grip of a dangerous sociopathic President.

Time to join our brave little neighbour, New Zealand who has had the guts to stand up to the global nuclear weapons industry and say “NO”

August 30, 2017 Posted by | Christina themes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Top-secret base Pine Gap might involve Australians in drone strikes on innocent civilians

Fear Pine Gap role could lead to Australian war crime prosecutions, 9 News, By Richard Wood Aug 21, 2017 Australians directing US-led drone strikes from the top-secret base Pine Gap base, near Alice Springs, could face war crime prosecution if innocent civilians are killed.

Leaked documents from the US National Security Agency provide a rare insight into the crucial role Pine Gap plays in collecting data from satellites which help guide drone strikes and special forces operations against terrorist targets, The Intercept and the ABC report.

Their findings were based on documents from within the NSA, leaked by former analyst Edward Snowden.

 Emily Howie, the director of advocacy and research at the Human Rights Law Centre, told The Intercept the Australian government should provide greater accountability on its role in US drone operations.

“The legal problem that’s created by drone strikes is that there may very well be violations of the laws of armed conflict … and that Australia may be involved in those potential war crimes through the facility at Pine Gap,” Howie told The Intercept and the ABC.

The first thing that we need from the Australian government is for it to come clean about exactly what Australians are doing inside the Pine Gap facility in terms of coordinating with the United States on the targeting using drones.”

The leaked NSA documents reveal the crucial role Pine Gap plays today in the US war on terror.

One document, titled ‘NSA Intelligence Relationship with Australia’, says: “Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap (RAINFALL) [is] a site which plays a significant role in supporting both intelligence activities and military operations.”

But the harvesting of satellite information for drone strikes and other military operations has sparked concern about Australia’s involvement.

US-led drone strikes have jumped in recent years but there has also seen a spike in civilian deaths caused by them…..Since US President Donald Trump came to power in January, the number of drone strikes and special forces raids have increased, while officials have striven to scrap rules aimed at preventing civilian death in such attacks…….http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/08/21/12/23/concern-pine-gap-role-could-lead-to-australians-being-prosecuted

August 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Missile defence system for Australia – unwise and probably ineffective

Paul Keating: North Korea could collapse if it gives up nuclear weapons, SMH, James MassolaFergus Hunter, 12 Aug 17  “……..When asked if a missile shield was an option that Australia should pursue to protect the mainland, Mr Keating’s response was blunt.

“I think this is more than debatable. The offending missiles would approach their targets at something like Mach 20, a phenomenal speed. We could never know, until the fatal event, whether a missile defence system would effectively work, or work in respect of each and every missile,” he said.

“A more worldly and competent foreign and defence policy is by far the preferred first line of defence – rather than the default position of relying on expensive but problematic hardware.”

Mr Turnbull also disagreed with Mr Abbott and Mr Rudd – who have both told Fairfax Media in the last four weeks that Australia should pursue missile defence – on the need for such a shield.

He said on Friday the current advice from Defence was that the terminal high altitude area defence [THAAD] system “is designed to provide protection for relatively small areas against short to intermediate range missiles”……..

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said “the last thing we need here is a Prime Minister backing an unhinged and paranoid leader into a conflict that could potentially end life on Earth as we know it”.

He called on Mr Turnbull to tell the President to “back off”.

“If there was an ever a clearer example of why Australia needs to ditch the US alliance and forge an independent, non-aligned foreign policy, this is it. Malcolm Turnbull now needs to pick up the phone, he needs to talk to Donald Trump and urge him to de-eascalate.”…..http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/paul-keating-north-korea-could-collapse-if-it-gives-up-nuclear-weapons-20170811-gxua4x.html

August 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Because of Pine Gap, Australia would be dragged into a Korean war

Pine Gap hardwires Australia into a Korean war https://www.echo.net.au/2017/08/pine-gap-hardwires-australia-korean-war/  Whether we like it or not, Australia would be dragged into a conflict on the Korean Peninsula because of the critical role of Pine Gap in US military operations against North Korea.

Given the geography of Korea and the decades of military preparations of both sides, we could become a participant in a war likely to result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Koreans, with a high likelihood of uncontrollable escalation to involve regional conflict.

Informed commentators recognize that there is no military solution to this conflict, and talking is the only option to avoid unimaginable horror.

Difficult though it is to negotiate with North Korea, there is good reason to believe that its leaders are not bent on suicide. There are indications that negotiations could be possible, but they need to be genuine to have any chance of avoiding war.

The Australian government’s strategic response has for a long time been compliance with whatever constitutes United States policy of the day.

In the hands of President Trump, this places the future of both the Korean Peninsula and Australia in the hands of a deeply delusional narcissist who is incapable of comprehending the consequences of his actions.

The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap will play a critical role in both conventional and nuclear-armed U.S. attacks on North Korea.

Pine Gap hardwires Australia into US combat operations in Northeast Asia. Pine Gap’s tasking will now be very actively focussed on North Korea.

The logic of nuclear weapons, epitomized by the United States’ nuclear posture, and fully supported by compliant Australian governments, has led to North Korea’s successful path to nuclear weapons state status.

Its goal has clearly been to deter US from attempting regime change, rather than suicidal nuclear aggression.

It is time for Australia to take an independent stance urging the utmost caution on its nuclear-armed ally as well as on North Korea, and actively oppose any action leading to what would be a catastrophic outbreak of war.

But equally, the present crisis makes clear that doctrines of nuclear deterrence – by any country – hold the whole world to ransom, with deterrence failure inevitable in the long run.

It is clear that only the abolition of nuclear weapons will offer any chance of planetary safety.

The Australian government’s craven acceptance of US demands that its allies boycott the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons adopted at the United Nations indicates that we have no independent foreign policy.

Professor Richard Tanter, senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute and honorary professor in the School of Political and Social Sciences at Melbourne University.

Professor Tanter will address the issue ‘What would an independent Australian foreign policy look like?’ during the upcoming Independent and Peaceful Australia Network National Conference in Melbourne over the weekend of 8-10 September.

 

August 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott wants Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence for Australia

Tony Abbott calls for Australia to urgently consider missile defence shield, The Age, Peter Hartcher, 11 Aug 17,  Tony Abbott has called for Australia urgently to consider a missile defence shield to protect against attack by nuclear-armed North Korea.

This means that Australia’s two most recent former leaders – one Labor and one Liberal – have now made such a call in the last four weeks. Australia has no defence against intercontinental ballistic missiles. The government has yet to indicate any interest in acquiring one.

After US President Donald Trump this week said he would deal with Pyongyang’s threats with “fire and fury”, North Korea said that “only absolute force can work on him”….

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said on Wednesday that a North Korean ICBM capability posed “an unacceptable existential threat to our country” although she said Australia was “not a primary target”.

She said that Australia’s strategy was to deter North Korea through international solidarity and called on “all sides” to step back.

But Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott separately are urging defensive steps:…..

This week the US Defence Intelligence Agency estimated that North Korea already has a miniaturised nuclear warhead to put atop the missiles, according to US media reports.

Mr Abbott said: “We should upgrade the capability of the air warfare destroyers so they’re not just able to track incoming missiles but shoot them down.”

“And we should look at the sort of system the US is installing in South Korea,” the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system. Mr Abbott said that the main argument against a missile defence was cost.

“Some would say that it would contribute to an arms race, but it’s a race that others are already running,” he added.

Experts point out that neither system nominated by Mr Abbott is designed for intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles but for shorter-range missiles.

However, the most effective missile shields use multiple systems – including shorter and longer range defences – “layered” on top of each other to increase the odds of success…….http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-calls-for-australia-to-urgently-consider-missile-defence-shield-20170810-gxtrrs.html

August 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | 3 Comments

Turnbull says Australia will join in the war, if North Korea attacks USA

 

Will Australia join in the war if Trump’s USA attacks North Korea?

Australia will join the conflict if North Korea attacks the US: Malcolm Turnbull, SMH Fergus Hunter, 11 Aug 17, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared Australia would invoke the ANZUS security treaty for only the second time in its history in response to any attack by North Korea against the United States.

Mr Turnbull also pushed back against calls – including from former prime ministers Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd – for Australia to develop a missile defence shield to protect the mainland from the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and long-range missile program.

The Prime Minister’s commitment to assist the US caps off days of escalating tensions, with US President Donald Trump threatening to unleash “fire and fury” on the rogue state and the North Korean regime warning it would attack the US Pacific territory of Guam.”The United States has no stronger ally than Australia. We have an ANZUS agreement and if there is an attack on Australia or the United States … each of us will come to the other’s aid,” Mr Turnbull told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Friday……

After invoking ANZUS in 2001, Mr Howard said Australia would consult with the US and consider any requests “within the limits of its capability”.

A month later, the government committed Australian troops to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Opponents have criticised the treaty, arguing it unnecessarily places Australia’s security at risk.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said: “The last thing we need here is a Prime Minister backing an unhinged and paranoid leader into a conflict that could potentially end life on Earth as we know it.”

He accused Mr Turnbull of putting a target on Australia’s back and called on him to tell the US President to “back off”.

“If there was ever a clearer example of why Australia needs to ditch the US alliance and forge an independent, non-aligned foreign policy, this is it. Malcolm Turnbull now needs to pick up the phone, he needs to talk to Donald Trump and urge him to de-eascalate.”

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-will-join-the-conflict-if-north-korea-attacks-the-us-malcolm-turnbull-20170810-gxty5f.html

 

August 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment