Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

‘Welcome’ to Steve Ciobo, the new Australian Minister for the Arms Trade

‘,    http://www.anti-bases.org/campaigns/reduce-military-spending/welcome-steve-ciobo-to-the-new-australian-minister-for-the-arms-trade/, September 18, 2018, 
Steve Ciobo is the new Defence Industry Minister taking over from Christopher Pyne.  He is now the Australian Minister who is responsible for our arms trade with other countries.  He is responsible for the transfer of Australian arms and equipment to the biggest trouble spot in the World, the Middle East.  The Australian Government maintains that they will not trade arms with human rights abuser or war fighting countries yet they are trading arms and materiel with Israel and Saudi Arabia.  Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are human rights abusers and the Australian Government turns a blind eye to their misdeeds.  It is up the citizens of Australia to reject this and send a reminder to our new minister!
Sample letters to Steve Ciobo

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September 21, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia won’t get the nuclear bomb – these are the reasons why not

The real problem is developing a credible, effective nuclear capability is about much more than possessing the bomb itself. Equally critical would be working out how to control and protect the weapon prior to use, and finally, deliver it. Doing this is, perhaps surprisingly, just as difficult – if not more so – than developing the device itself.

let’s look at what it would  cost.This is where the extent of the fantasy becomes apparent.

there’s one other final, conclusive, and critical reason that not even our allies will assist an attempt to go nuclear. The truth is now they just don’t view Australia as a stable, mature democracy any more.

The one, conclusive reason why Australia won’t go nuclear, SMH, By Nicholas Stuart, 18 September 2018 There’s a massive, although subterranean, debate going on in the strategic community at the moment – one with huge ramifications. It’s whether Australia should possess its own nuclear deterrent. Continue reading

September 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Defence officials become military lobbyists

Defence officials turn lobbyists, sometimes weeks after leaving government

Eight former defence figures, most high-ranking, are now lobbyists for military contractors, Guardian, Christopher Knaus,  @knausc, 18 Sep 2018 Senior defence officials and military figures are taking paid jobs with firms lobbying for arms manufacturers, sometimes within weeks of leaving their government posts.

Guardian Australia has identified eight former military officers or defence bureaucrats, most of whom were high-ranking, who have publicly registered themselves as lobbyists for firms that represent military contractors.

But many other defence lobbyists operate largely in secret, either because they work directly for military contractors, or because they simply refuse to put themselves on the lobbyist register, avoiding scrutiny for themselves and their clients without any real repercussion.

One recent example of a lobbyist who placed himself on the lobbyist register is Tyson Sara, a former assistant secretary in defence’s naval shipbuilding taskforce, whose role was described as “leading the implementation of the Australian naval shipbuilding plan”.

Sara left defence in March and soon after joined lobbying powerhouse Cmax Advisory as its chief operating officer and vice-president for strategy and government.

Cmax represents the shipbuilder Navantia Australia, defence contractor Northrop Grumman, and the Israeli weapons manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems……….

Military officers who held a rank above colonel or its equivalent are banned from lobbying for 12 months on “any matter they had official dealings with” during the last year of their employment. Senior executive service officers in the public service face the same cooling-off period.

But the lobbying code of conduct, already weak by international standards, is rarely enforced and staff movements are poorly monitored.

The code also fails to consider former defence employees who are employed directly by weapons companies, either as in-house lobbyists or senior executives.

That means it does not apply to individuals such as Sean Costello, who worked as chief of staff to the then defence minister David Johnston between June 2014 and January 2015, as the government planned its $50bn future submarines program, according to evidence in Senate estimates. Costello left Johnston’s department and two months later became the chief executive of the Australian arm of French submarine manufacturer DCNS, a Senate committee heard.

That company, now known as Naval Group, eventually won the submarines contract in 2016.

In Senate estimates in 2015 Defence conceded that it was “a fair assumption” that Costello, in his role as chief of staff, would have had access to confidential documents and briefings on the submarine project.

Defence said in evidence to the Senate that it provided Johnston’s office with 34 pieces of written advice relating to the submarine project in the time Costello worked in the office, on top of material provided to the minister in a daily briefing pack.

……. Tim Costello, chief advocate for World Vision and the executive director of Micah Australia, said the sheer value of defence contracts meant it was necessary to apply added scrutiny to the sector.

“They are so lucrative,” Costello said. “It means that the transparency and accountability must be higher and commensurate with the goldfields they represent of taxpayer dollars.”

The Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick said it was clear the lobbying code needed to be enhanced for former defence personnel. Patrick said senior defence personnel were often exposed to privileged and sensitive information on policy, strategy, and commercial and tender requirements.

“While I wouldn’t suggest that this information is shared amongst a lobbyist’s clients, when former officials service their clients, it’s simply not possible to unknow this information when formulating advice,” he said.

September 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

ICAN takes the Nobel peace message to country Australia

ICAN Nobel Peace Prize Ride: On the road to a future free of nuclear weapons https://www.examiner.com.au/story/5631777/on-the-road-to-a-future-free-of-nuclear-arms/?cs=97, Gem Romuld and Lavanya Pant, 7 Sept 18

September 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia, New Zealand launch planes to monitor nuclear North Korea

 https://thewest.com.au/politics/defence/australia-new-zealand-launch-planes-to-monitor-nuclear-north-korea-ng-b88953280z

AAP, 6 September 2018 Australia and New Zealand are deploying maritime surveillance planes to help enforce United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne on Friday announced the deployment of two Australian AP-3C Orion patrol aircraft in addition to a P-8A Poseidon sent out earlier this year.

AIt is a continuation of our strong stand to deter and disrupt illicit trade and sanctions evasion activities by North Korea and its associated networks,” he said.

The planes will be based out of Japan.

Meanwhile, a New Zealand Air Force Orion P-3K2 would also be carrying out surveillance of international waters in north Asia, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced separately.

We welcome the recent dialogue North Korea has had with the United States and South Korea,” he said.

However, until such time as North Korea abides by its international obligations, full implementation of the United Nations Security Council Sanctions resolutions will be essential.”

In particular, the aircraft would be on the look-out for ship-to-ship deliveries that may contravene Security Council resolutions, he said.

The United States has been using sanctions to put pressure on the hermit kingdom to give up its nuclear weapons program.

In August, it announced penalties against two Russian companies over what is said were transfers of refined petroleum to North Korean ships.

Since US President Donald Trump’s high-profile meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this year, relations between their countries have cooled.

A diplomatic visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to North Korea was cancelled last month, with Mr Trump citing a lack of progress on denuclearisation.

New Zealand’s government recently agreed to replace its ageing fleet of six surveillance aircraft with four high-tech Boeing P-8A Poseidons.

Analysts said the purchase signalled New Zealand’s willingness to keep in touch with traditional allies such as the United States and Australia and showed its seriousness about military deployments in the region.

September 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cyclists start 900km journey to Canberra, with Nobel Peace Prize and aim to end nuclear weapons

Nobel Peace Ride: Cyclists carry medal to Canberra, urging end to nuclear weapons, A group of cyclists have set off from Melbourne, bound for Canberra to deliver a message to Australia’s new Foreign Minister on banning nuclear weapons. 2 Sept 18 , SBS News,  By Biwa Kwan, Twenty cyclists have begun a 900km journey to Canberra from Melbourne.

September 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Opposition to nuclear, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian War Memorial: Stop accepting funding from weapon-makers

  https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/53613dcb229db39047779e91f67b5f7060e257c4?hash=424680df7873d9763f53d440e6b7e3bf

The Australian War Memorial increasingly seeks and accepts sponsorships from the world’s largest multinational weapon manufacturers. These companies reap enormous profits from war; for them, ongoing warfare leads to greater business success. They have no place in a memorial to our war dead.  

PETITION   To: Australian War Memorial Director and Council 
From: [Your Name]

To the Director and Council of the Australian War Memorial:

We are horrified to learn of AWM sponsorships from weapons manufacturers.

It is unacceptable that:
• Every visitor to the AWM is greeted by an illuminated screen featuring the corporate logos of these companies.
• The ‘BAE Systems Theatre’ is actively promoted for hire, thus marketing Britain’s biggest weapons maker. BAE Systems is a major military supplier to Saudi Arabia, a country known to sponsor terrorism, and which is currently committing atrocities against civilians in Yemen. BAE has been the subject of multiple corruption investigations, including for its dealings with Saudi Arabia.
• You have a three-year partnership deal with Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons manufacturer, which also has a history of corruption. The deal includes assistance with commemorating the centenary of Armistice Day. During World War 1, the weapons industry made huge profits as Australians and others were slaughtered in unprecedented numbers.

We also note many other multinational weapons companies are sponsors and donors, including Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Thales.

We would not accept cigarette or alcohol company sponsorship of hospital wards. It is totally inappropriate for weapons makers to sponsor our national War Memorial.

The Australian War Memorial should be a place of genuine commemoration and learning. Vested interests in warfare are incompatible with both of these goals. All funding from weapons companies should cease.

September 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactive sheep in Australia add evidence about Israeli nuclear bomb test

Radioactive sheep shed light on secret nuclear weapons test, https://nypost.com/2018/08/14/radioactive-sheep-shed-light-on-secret-nuclear-weapons-test/ Christopher Carbone, Fox News, August 14, 2018 Newly discovered data from radioactive sheep provides strong evidence that a mysterious “double flash” detected almost 39 years ago near a remote island group was a nuclear explosion.

Ever since the flash was observed by a US Vela satellite orbiting above Earth in September 1979, there’s been speculation that it was produced by a nuclear weapon test by Israel. International researchers in the journal Science & Global Security analyzed previously unpublished results of radiation testing at a US lab of thyroid organs from sheep in southeastern Australia in order to make their determination.

The flash was located in the area of Marion and Prince Edward islands, which are in the South Indian Ocean about halfway between Africa and Antarctica.

“A new publication sheds further light on the Vela Incident of 1979,” said Professor Nick Wilson of Otago University at Wellington, who highlighted the findings but was not involved with the study itself. “[The research] adds to the evidence base that this was an illegal nuclear weapons test, very likely to have been conducted by Israel with assistance from the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

Wilson, an epidemiologist and member of the Australia-based Medical Association for the Prevention of War, said the test would have violated the Limited Test Ban Treaty signed in 1963, and urged the United Nations to mount a full inquiry.

The researchers conclude that iodine-131, which is an unstable radioactive form of the element iodine found in the thyroids of some Australian sheep, “would be consistent with them having grazed in the path of a potential radioactive fallout plume from a [Sept. 22, 1979] low-yield nuclear test in the Southern Indian Ocean.”

Thyroid samples from sheep killed in Melbourne were regularly sent to the US for testing — monthly in 1979 but also in the 1950s and 1980s, researchers say.

According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, the sheep had been grazing in an area hit by rain four days after the flash incident was observed, which would have been in the downwind path from the suspected explosion site.

Researchers also said the detection of a “hydroacoustic signal” from underwater listening devices at the time is another piece of evidence pointing to a nuclear test.

Israel, which has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of a nuclear program, dismissed the claim that it was responsible for the 1979 incident.

srael’s ambassador to New Zealand, Itzhak Gerberg, told the Herald, when asked if Israel was responsible for the explosion: “Simply a ridiculous assumption that does not hold water.”

However, the country’s former Knesset speaker, Avrum Burg, told a conference in 2013 that “Israel has nuclear and chemical weapons” and called for public discussion.

Commenting on the findings, US nuclear weapons expert Leonard Weiss of Stanford University said in the online Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that the “important” new evidence “removes virtually all doubt” that the flash was a small-yield nuclear explosion.

Weiss added that there was “growing circumstantial evidence” that it was conducted by Israel.

“Israel was the only country that had the technical ability and policy motivation to carry out such a clandestine test,” he said.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear testing before the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne should be a red flag for Fukushima in 2020

 Part time tutor in Medical Education, University of Dundee

The scheduling of Tokyo 2020 Olympic events at Fukushima is being seen as a public relations exercise to dampen fears over continuing radioactivity from the reactor explosion that followed the massive earthquake six years ago.

It brings to mind the British atomic bomb tests in Australia that continued until a month before the opening of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne – despite the known dangers of fallout travelling from the testing site at Maralinga to cities in the east. And it reminds us of the collusion between scientists and politicians – British and Australian – to cover up the flawed decision-making that led to continued testing until the eve of the Games.

Australia’s prime minister Robert Menzies agreed to atomic testing in December 1949. Ten months earlier, Melbourne had secured the 1956 Olympics even though the equestrian events would have to be held in Stockholm because of Australia’s strict horse quarantine regimes.

The equestrians were well out of it. Large areas of grazing land – and therefore the food supplies of major cities such as Melbourne – were covered with a light layer of radiation fallout from the six atomic bombs detonated by Britain during the six months prior to the November 1956 opening of the Games. Four of these were conducted in the eight weeks running up to the big event, 1,000 miles due west of Melbourne at Maralinga.

Bombs and games

In the 25 years I have been researching the British atomic tests in Australia, I have found only two mentions of the proximity of the Games to the atomic tests. Not even the Royal Commission into the tests in 1985 addressed the known hazards of radioactive fallout for the athletes and spectators or those who lived in the wide corridor of the radioactive plumes travelling east.

At the time, the approaching Olympics were referred to only once in the Melbourne press in relation to the atomic tests, in August 1956. It is known that D-notices from the government “requesting” editors to refrain from publishing information about certain defence and security matters were issued.

The official history of the tests by British nuclear historian Lorna Arnold, published by the UK government in 1987 and no longer in print, reports tests director William Penney signalling concern only once, in late September 1956:

Am studying arrangements firings but not easy. Have Olympic Games in mind but still believe weather will not continue bad.

This official history doesn’t comment on the implications. And nowhere in the 1985 Royal Commission report is there any reference to the opening of the Olympics, just one month and a day after the fourth test took place 1,000 miles away.

The 1984 report of the Expert Committee on the review of Data on Atmospheric Fallout Arising from British Nuclear Tests in Australia found that the methodology used to estimate the numbers of people who might have been harmed by this fallout at fewer than 10 was inappropriate. And it concluded that if the dose calculations were confined to the communities in the path of the fallout and not merged with the total Australian population “such an exercise would generate results several orders of magnitude higher than those based on conventional philosophy”. There was no mention of the Olympic Games.

Neither Prime Minister Menzies nor his cabinet ever referred publicly to what had been known from the outset – that the British atomic tests in Australia would almost coincide with the Melbourne Olympics. The tests and the Games were planned simultaneously through the first half of the 1950s.

In May 1955, 18 months before the Olympics were due to start, Howard Beale, the Australian minister for supply, announced the building of “the Los Alamos of the British Commonwealth” (a nuclear test site in New Mexico) at Maralinga, promising that “tests would only take place in meteorological conditions which would carry radioactive clouds harmlessly away into the desert”.

An Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee was formed by the Australians but was closely controlled by physicist Professor Ernest Titterton, the only Englishman on the panel. The 1985 Royal Commission stated explicitly that the AWTSC was complicit in the firing of atomic detonations in weather conditions that they knew could carry radioactive fallout a thousand miles from Maralinga to eastern cities such as Melbourne.

Hazards of radioactivity

Professor Titterton, who had recently been appointed to a chair in nuclear physics at the Australian National University after working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, and at Aldermaston in England, explained why the atomic devices were being tested in Australia:

Because of the hazards from the radioactivity which follows atomic weapons explosions, the tests are best carried out in isolated regions – usually a desert area … Most of the radioactivity produced in the explosion is carried up in the mushroom cloud and drifts downward under atmospheric airstreams. But particular material in this cloud slowly settles to the ground and may render an area dangerously radioactive out to distances ranging between 50 and several hundred miles … It would therefore be hazardous to explode even the smallest weapons in the UK, and it was natural for the mother country to seek test sites elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

The AWTSC published two scientific papers in 1957 and 1958 which flat out denied that any dangerous levels of radioactivity reached the eastern states. But their measurements relied on a very sparse scattering of sticky paper monitors – rolls of gummed film set out to catch particles of fallout – even though these could be washed off by rain.

Despite their clear denials in these papers, meteorological records show that prior to the Games there was rain in Melbourne which could have deposited radioactivity on the ground.

The AWTSC papers included maps purporting to show the plumes of radioactive fallout travelling north and west from Maralinga in the South Australian desert. The Royal Commission published expanded maps (see page 292) based on the AWTSC’s own data and found the fallout pattern to be much wider and more complex. The Australian scientist Hedley Marston’s study of radioactivity uptake in animals showed a far more significant covering of fallout on a wide swathe of Australian grazing land than indicated by the sticky paper samples of the AWTSC.

The 1985 Royal Commission report into British Nuclear Tests in Australia discussed many of these issues, but never in relation to the proximity and timing of the 1956 Olympic Games. Sixty years later, are we seeing the same denial of known hazards six years after the reactor explosion at Fukushima?

 

July 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Senator Rex Patrick questions the government’s big submarine spend-up

 

Was this much too expensive choice  made because these submarines could easily be converted to nuclear submarines?

THIRTY BILLION DOLLARS OF QUESTIONS

Australia’s Future Submarine program could blow out by billions, Senator Rex Patrick warns

This week I revealed in Parliament that the Coalition Government’s choice of the French submarine builder as the preferred partner for the Navy’s Future Submarine will cost taxpayers $30 billion more than the price offered by the unsuccessful German builder.

The Government is refusing to explain the difference in cost.

We’re talking a whopping $30 BILLION. That’s $30 billion that could have been better spent on other defence projects or even health, education and/or infrastructure. I will be pursuing this further.

Here is my question to the Defence Minister this week.

You can also read more here: https://rex.centrealliance.org.au/…/releases/thirty-billion/.

June 25, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Donald Trump alienates America’s allies, raising the question “Should Australia get its own nuclear weapon?”

“The irony of the North Korean denuclearisation deal could be that everybody else decides to go nuclear. If it fails and Kim remains in power and countries doubt our commitment, then what’s to stop Japan or South Korea or Australia going nuclear?”

Trump triggers talk of Australia going nuclear, SMH, By Peter Hartcher 

Should Australia develop its own nuclear weapons? It seems an outlandishly radical thought for such a safe country to consider. But a former adviser to Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop thinks it’s an idea whose time is fast approaching.

In his book Why Australia Slept, launched this week, Peter Hendy says that Australia needs to consider nuclear weapons because “if we could financially afford them, [they] would secure an even more independent foreign policy” for the country.

Hendy, a former Liberal federal MP, former head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and now a consultant, is not the first to raise this delicate subject. The way things are going he won’t be the last.

Three former deputy secretaries of Australia’s Defence Department – strategists Hugh White, Paul Dibb and Richard Brabin-Smith – have mooted the idea in the past year. Till these most recent months, it’s been something of a taboo topic in respectable circles.

One big reason? Australia already has the protection of the United States nuclear umbrella. Under this system, the US pledges that if anyone should launch a nuclear strike on one of its allies, Washington would retaliate against the aggressor.

So to suggest that Australia now needs its own atomic arsenal is to suggest that there has been a fundamental breakdown in trust. In short, that the US alliance is dead. Continue reading

June 15, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s Maralinga Nuclear Veterans unrecognised – (Government strategy – wait for them all to die?)

Maralinga nuke test crusader Avon Hudson’s plea for the Australian Nuclear Veterans’ Association getting lonelierTory Shepherd, State Editor, Sunday Mail (SA) June 9, 2018  https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/maralinganuke-test-crusader-avon-hudsons-plea-for-the-australian-nuclear-veterans-association-getting-lonlier/news-story/3a88136d594912f0aa8a12b59b218649

AVON Hudson is still fighting – but his crusade is becoming lonelier.

The Australian Nuclear Veterans’ Association founder has fought for the rights of those exposed to deadly radiation at Maralinga in the 1950s and ’60s.

But the association is crumbling since so many of the survivors of those long-ago explosions have died.

“We had so few members we couldn’t keep going. The members all died,” Mr Hudson, of Balaklava, says.

Describing himself as an OBE – “Over bloody eighty” – Mr Hudson is worried they will all be gone before an apology is offered for what they endured in the British nuclear test program. He reckons there are about 1500 veterans left – but no one really knows.

He wants proper compensation but, more than anything, he wants recognition that the government of the time put them, and their as-yet-unborn children, in danger.

From 1952 to 1963, men in flimsy clothing – such as shorts and singlets – watched mushroom clouds bloom as the British carried out nuclear bomb tests at three sites in Australia. They were military personnel or civilians with little or no idea what radiation could do to them.

Since then, many have suffered cancers and disabilities, and their children have had deformities. There have also been reports of early deaths and high numbers of stillbirths.

Maralinga’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara people were hit by the fallout. They saw a black mist floating across the desert, blocking the sun. Then people started to get sick.

Britain wanted to develop a nuclear capacity, and Australia’s vast outback was the place to test the weapons. The UK’s then prime minister Winston Churchill struck a secret deal with Australia’s prime minister Robert Menzies, who wanted to keep Britain happy.

They called it Project Hurricane, and it started on October 3, 1952.

There were minor trials and major tests.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency describes the detonations setting off a large fireball.  “Everything inside of this fireball vaporises and is carried upward creating a mushroom-shaped cloud,” ARPANSA says. “The material in the cloud cools into dust-like particles and drops back to the earth as radioactive fallout. This radioactive fallout is carried by the wind very long distances away from the site of the explosion.”

Mr Hudson, who worked at Maralinga while in the air force, has had cancer treatments and other health issues.

He is furious that the Government has spent millions on war memorials like the $100 million Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

“They spend $100 million on the dead but can’t even look after the living,” he said.

“It’s too late for the dead – they’ve got no more pain and suffering like we have.

“Why have we been sidelined? Aren’t we entitled to some compensation?”

Since the tests, there have been decades of court cases here and in the United Kingdom, but all legal avenues are now exhausted and the veterans’ hopes are pinned on the Government.

Last year’s Budget included $133 million for survivors exposed to radiation and they can now get Medicare gold cards – but that has come too late for many.

Part of the problem is the difficulty in ascribing a specific cancer to a specific incident. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has previously said there is “no significant danger of ongoing health effects for the descendants of participants”, although some research has shown an elevated risk.

The department said there had been “decades-long controversies” over compensation. In a recent Senate estimates hearing, SA Labor senator Alex Gallacher asked if the department was considering further support.

“No,” DVA spokeswoman Lisa Foreman said. “We’re focusing on making known that the gold card is available to those veterans.”

Senator Gallacher asked if they knew how many veterans were still alive. They didn’t.

He then asked if they were tracking deformities or illnesses in the descendants of veterans. They are not.

Meanwhile, Mr Hudson vows to fight on as long as he is able.

“I will not go quietly, I’ll give them hell. They deserve it,” he said.

June 10, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Geophysicists say that North Korean nuclear blast ‘moved mountain’. Australia’s seismic station plays role in monitoring

While Dr Wang and his team used data from seismic monitoring systems in China and the surrounding area, Australia has one of the best in the world, Professor Tkalcic said: the Warramunga monitoring station in the Northern Territory, near Tennant Creek.

It’s almost smack bang in the centre of the continent, in an incredibly quiet part of the world, seismically speaking; far from tectonic plate edges, cities and the shoreline, where waves crashing on the coast create seismic noise.

There is also an infrasound detection system at Warramunga station, which detects waves that travel through the atmosphere produced by bomb blasts.

The data is transmitted by satellite to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation in Vienna, where it is monitored round the clock.

North Korean nuclear test had energy of 10 Nagasaki bombs and moved mountain, geophysicists say  http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-05-11/north-korea-nuclear-test-satellites-seismic-monitoring/9746676  By science reporter Belinda Smith, 11 May 18, 

An underground North Korean nuclear test in September last year exploded with 10 times the energy of the atomic bomb that exploded over Nagasaki in 1945.

It also caused the overlying mountain peak to sink by half a metre and shift about 3.5 metres south.

Key points:

  • North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb under Mt Mantap on September 3, 2017
  • Using satellite measurements and seismic data, geophysicists calculated the strength of the test and its location — the first time satellite radar has been used this way
  • The blast was big enough to cause an earthquake and deform the mountain above

These are conclusions drawn by geophysicists, who used satellite radar and instruments that pick up waves travelling through the earth, to calculate the explosion’s depth and strength.

In the journal Science today, they also report signs that a subterranean tunnel system at the test site collapsed 8.5 minutes after the bomb detonated.

In the past, satellite technology — called synthetic radar aperture imagery — has mapped how the ground stretches and warps after earthquakes.

But this is the first time it has been used to examine a nuclear bomb test site, according to Teng Wang, study co-author and a geophysicist at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

Since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, nine nuclear tests have taken place.

Six of these were by North Korea, five of which were at its Mt Mantap facility in the country’s north.

The bombs were detonated in chambers tunnelled into the mountain itself — a granite peak that extends upwards just over 2,200 metres.

But this means the details of the tests, such as the energy produced by the bombs, have been largely unknown outside North Korea — until now.

Eye in the sky, ear to the ground

Dr Wang and his colleagues suspected they could deduce the strength and precise location of the bomb test on September 3 last year, which triggered a magnitude-6.3 earthquake.

Clandestine nuclear activities are tracked by a global monitoring system of sensors that pick up the faint shivers and shudders generated by distant underground blasts and earthquakes.

But while these instruments are capable of picking up the wave signature of a bomb blast thousands of kilometres away, more information is needed to pinpoint exactly where an explosion has taken place.

So in the weeks after the September North Korean bomb test, Dr Wang and his colleagues received images of the Mt Mantap terrain before and after the test, snapped by the German TerraSAR-X satellite.

To map the bumps and dips on the Earth’s entire surface, TerraSAR-X pings radar towards the ground and measures how long it before the signal is bounced back up again.

“As long as the ground is deformed, we can measure it from space using synthetic radar aperture,” Dr Wang said.

Combined with a bit of nifty mathematical modelling — the first time anyone’s modelled an underground nuclear test with radar data — he and his colleagues got a fix on the exact location of the detonation site.

This is a highlight of the work, said Hrvoje Tkalcic, a geophysicist at the Australian National University, who was not involved in the study.

“What’s always difficult is pinpointing an exact location [of a bomb test],” Professor Tkalcic said.

Dr Wang and his team calculated that the top of the mountain subsided about half a metre after the September test, and parts of it shuffled south.

To manage this deformation, the bomb released the energy equivalent to between 109,000 and 276,000 tonnes of TNT in a chamber 450 metres below Mt Mantap’s peak.

The “Fat Man” bomb that exploded over Nagasaki yielded an energy level equivalent to 20,000 tonnes.

Among the data, they found the seismic shivers of a second, smaller event — an aftershock that appeared 700 metres south of, and 8.5 minutes after, the explosion.

The waves produced by the aftershock weren’t consistent with an explosion; rather, it looked like the ground had imploded.

This, the geophysicists suggest, “likely indicates the collapse of the tunnel system of the test site”.

While Dr Wang and his team used data from seismic monitoring systems in China and the surrounding area, Australia has one of the best in the world, Professor Tkalcic said: the Warramunga monitoring station in the Northern Territory, near Tennant Creek.

It’s almost smack bang in the centre of the continent, in an incredibly quiet part of the world, seismically speaking; far from tectonic plate edges, cities and the shoreline, where waves crashing on the coast create seismic noise.

It uses an array of buried instruments to pick up waves that travel through the ground, acting as a giant antenna to amplify weak signals.

“They’re used in the same way as astronomers use arrays of antennas to look at deep space. It’s just that our antennas are pointed to the centre of the earth,” Professor Tkalcic said.

There is also an infrasound detection system at Warramunga station, which detects waves that travel through the atmosphere produced by bomb blasts.

The data is transmitted by satellite to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation in Vienna, where it is monitored round the clock.

So how do geophysicists know if seismic waves are caused by bomb blasts and not, say, an earthquake or landslide?

In a subterranean explosion, the ground is pushed outwards and compressed, sending a particular type of wave through the ground, Professor Tkalcic said.

An earthquake’s seismic signature is different. If two plates collide, rub against each other or slip, they send out another type of wave.

“We can tell if the first motion was predominantly a compression or if it was a shear type of motion,” Professor Tkalcic said.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA wants nuclear attack submarines to be based in Perth

Washington report floats US nuclear attack subs and warships in Perth THE AUSTRALIAN, CAMERON STEWART, Washington correspondent@camstewarttheoz, 25 Apr 18

US nuclear attack submarines and navy warships should be based in Perth in response to China’s growing power projection into the Indo-Pacific, a new US report warns.

The report says Australia and its allies must “spotlight and push back” against China’s stepped-up efforts to project power and build military infrastructure in the region.

……..The report also comes a week after it was revealed that three Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese military as they travelled through the disputed South China Sea early this month.

Tensions between Australia and China have risen sharply, with China’s ambassador to Australia warning last week that the relationship between the two countries had been marred by “systematic, irresponsible and negative remarks” about China.

Beijing has not hosted a senior Australian minister for several months and was highly critical of Malcolm Turnbull’s new security laws announced last year to ­protect Australia from foreign ­interference.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd this week further accused the current Prime Minister of undermining Australia’s relationship with China, saying Mr Turnbull’s public remarks about our largest trading partner were tantamount to “punching the Chinese in the face”……..

 the CSIS calls for a range of measures, including a rotational presence of US warships at HMAS Stirling in Perth.

It also calls on the Turnbull government to “consider the possibility of investing in the nuclear support infrastructure necessary for the basing of (US) attack submarines as well”.

These military options have been considered by the Turnbull and Abbott Coalition governments and by the Gillard and Rudd Labor governments but they have never been acted upon.

But Mr Shearer said the time was now right for a bigger US military presence at HMAS ­Stirling…….https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/washington-report-floats-us-nuclear-attack-subs-and-warships-in-perth/news-story/af5d0e9dd300c8eb96bf74aca790198d

 

April 25, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Maralinga Britain’s guinea pig land for toxic nuclear bomb testing

Australia’s Least Likely Tourist Spot: A Test Site for Atom Bombs, NYT, 

April 18, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, personal stories, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment