Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

A counterview to Hugh White’s book in favour of nuclear weapons for Australia

Australia, nuclear weapons and America’s umbrella business  The Strategist , 9 Jul 2019, Rod Lyon  Hugh White’s new book, How to defend Australia, has stirred up a hornet’s nest on the topic of potential nuclear proliferation. In one sense, that’s a surprise, since anyone who’s read the relevant chapter knows that it’s book-ended by carefully crafted paragraphs which state explicitly that White ‘neither predicts nor advocates’ Australia’s development of an indigenous nuclear arsenal.

But in between those paragraphs White explores the history of Australian interest in a national nuclear weapons program, underlines the dwindling credibility of US nuclear assurances to allies, canvasses a possible nuclear doctrine for Australia, and recommends a force structure—more submarines—suitable to what he sees as our new straitened strategic circumstances. If he’s not advocating a nuclear arsenal, why is he telling us so much about what it ought to look like?

Let’s start with the possibility of Australian nuclear proliferation up front. As I wrote recently for a chapter in After American primacy, there are five barriers to Australian proliferation: ideational, political, diplomatic, technological and strategic. Briefly, crossing the nuclear Rubicon would require:

  • Australians to think differently about nuclear weapons—as direct contributors to our defence rather than as abstract contributors to global stability
  • a bipartisan political consensus to support proliferation, during both development and deployment of a nuclear arsenal
  • a shift in Australia’s diplomatic footprint, to build a case for our leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and abrogating the Treaty of Rarotonga, while still being able to retail a coherent story of arms control and nuclear order
  • serious investment in the technologies and skill-sets required to construct and deploy, safely and securely, both nuclear warheads and appropriate delivery vehicles
  • and a strategy which gives meaning to our arsenal and an explanation of our thinking to our neighbours and our major ally.
………  he [White] argues in favour of a ‘minimum deterrence’ nuclear posture for Australia, citing the British and French programs approvingly. …….
But ‘minimum deterrence’ is a slippery term—Chinese, Indian and Pakistani declaratory policies have all, at one time or another, applied it to their own programs.  …….
………. such a future world [Australia with nuclear weapons] is less attractive than the one we live in now. Asia typically hasn’t put a high priority on nuclear weapons, which tend to sit in the strategic background rather than the foreground. A sudden cascade of nuclear proliferation would make for a more fraught and difficult region—which is one good reason we ought to be working harder to keep the US engaged in Asia and its umbrella business healthy.   https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australia-nuclear-weapons-and-americas-umbrella-business/

July 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The unwisdom of Australia mindlessly following USA into a war against Iran

We must think very carefully before committing to war in the Gulf, The Age, By Hossein Esmaeili, July 8, 2019 Conflict between the United States and Iran is deepening and the two states are marching towards war. The Persian Gulf, where a third of the world’s natural gas and a fifth of the world’s oil is sourced, may soon see another large scale and probably long-lasting international conflict………

On Sunday, Iran announced it would enrich uranium beyond the nuclear deal limit unless the remaining parties – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – help reduce the paralysing US economic sanctions, which are strangling Iran’s economy. …….
Any war in the volatile environment of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East would not be, as Trump said, ‘‘quick and short’’, but rather a blazing regional and international conflict which may disturb the world economy and endanger global peace and security. ….
In late June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially called on Australia to play a role in a new global coalition against Iran. Following Pompeo’s request, Prime Minster Scott Morrison did not rule out possible Australian involvement in a possible military conflict between the US and Iran.  ……
After the events of September 11, 2001, John Howard invoked provisions of the 1951 ANZUS Treaty to demonstrate Australia’s support for the US in its war against the Taliban/al-Qaeda and later against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.  …..

Australia has no legal obligations under the ANZUS Treaty, or any other international agreement, to join the US in another possibly long, chaotic and devastating regional conflict. Indeed, under the Charter of the United Nations, to which both Australia and the US are parties, the use of force is prohibited unless authorised by the Security Council of the United Nations.

Australia’s Prime Minister must think very carefully before committing Australia to a war that has virtually no international support, no international legal justification, and no rational justification. ……

the European Union is backing measures, provided by France, United Kingdom and Germany, known as Instruments In Support of Trade Exchange (INSTEX), to facilitate trade between the EU and Iran to partially get around the US sanctions, in order to save the 2015 nuclear deal, to maintain dialogue with Iran and to prevent an international military crisis.

Australia would be much wiser to join the EU’s INSTEX and engage in dialogue with Iran……..

Should Morrison decide to enter into a conflict in one of the most volatile regions of the world, he will not have the decision-making power to end it. He would do well not to drive Australia into such a war, instead, given Australia’s international reputation, he should help European countries, the world community and the United Nations to avoid a useless armed conflict, which will not benefit any country.

War with Iran won’t be like war with Iraq: significantly more pain, more bloodshed and more devastation for the entire world, including Australia, will be the result.

Hossein Esmaeili is an associate professor of international law at Flinders University.  https://www.theage.com.au/world/middle-east/we-must-think-very-carefully-before-committing-to-war-in-the-gulf-20190708-p52566.html

July 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A new book argues that Australia will need nuclear weapons

Nuclear arsenal must be on Australia’s agenda, argues defence expert, SMH, By Harriet Alexander, July 1, 2019  Australia can no longer rely on the United States to protect it in Asia and should consider developing its own nuclear weapons for the event that China becomes hostile, former defence strategist and security analyst Hugh White argues in a controversial new book.

Professor White argues in How to Defend Australia the assumption that the United States would protect the nation against any attack by a major power, which has underpinned Australian defence policy since the Cold War, is no longer true as China emerges as the dominant power in Asia.

For Australia to be self-reliant, it would need to boost defence spending from 2 per cent to 3.5 per cent of GDP – or $30 billion – and consider the “difficult and uncomfortable” question of developing its own nuclear capability, said Professor White, a professor in strategic studies at the Australian National University……..

Although most think tanks and strategic policy institutes in the United States continued to assert that dominance in Asia was a strategic priority, America’s global leadership has not figured as a priority for President Donald Trump nor for the contenders to the Democrat nomination, Professor White said. ……

Professor White said Australia should only consider defensive weapons such as submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

“We need to be extremely careful about how we talk about this and very conscious of the extraordinary cost to us of acquiring nuclear weapons,” Professor White said.

“It would make us less secure in some ways, that’s why in some ways I think it’s appalling.”

The last prime minister to canvass the development of nuclear weapons in Australia was Robert Menzies in the 1960s.

Professor White, a former deputy secretary for strategy and intelligence with the Department of Defence, was dismissed as alarmist when he first foreshadowed in 2010 the demise of American influence in Asia. But the Lowy Institute’s international security program director Sam Roggeveen said he had since been proved correct.

Mr Roggeveen said the regional complications of Australia developing nuclear weapons would be huge, with Indonesia probably having to follow suit, but the logic was inescapable.

“If we ever completely decouple from the [US] alliance then it’s hard to see how we could essentially maintain our independence against China’s coercion if we didn’t have nuclear weapons,” Mr Roggeveen said.

The bipartisan political consensus on Australian defence policy is opposed to the development of nuclear weapons, and the domestic shipbuilding program would leave Australia “hopelessly vulnerable” if it ever came to a fight with China, Mr Roggeveen said.

“According to White, we are locking in a defence force for a generation that will be totally unsuited to the world we are entering,” he wrote in a book review for The Interpreter. “That’s the scandal.”

The Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, said: “Australia stands by its Non-Proliferation Treaty pledge, as a non-nuclear weapon state, not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons.”

La Trobe Asia executive director Euan Graham said the US alliance was more resilient than Professor White described and China had shown no signs of aggression, but he agreed Australia should think about developing its nuclear capability.

“We’re talking about 15 to 20 years acquisition timeframe and the security environment that we’re facing will almost certainly be more severe then that it is now,” Dr Graham said.

“I think Australia has to be thinking about what will be  be required to move to a nuclear weapon posture because that can’t happen overnight.”   https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/nuclear-arsenal-must-be-on-australia-s-agenda-argues-defence-expert-20190701-p52306.html

July 2, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Despite the evidence, the Australian government refuses to accept Chronic Radiation Syndrome in nuclear test veterans

The concept of a Chronic Radiation Syndrome was first reported by Japanese doctors who observed survivors of the atomic bombs dropped upon Japan in 1945. There, the name for the syndrome is Bura Bura disease. It is not accepted by the West.

the USA was in possession of the 1971 Soviet description of Chronic Radiation Syndrome in 1973 at the latest.

In 1994 the US Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute Bethesda, Maryland, published “Analysis of Chronic Radiation Sickness Cases in the Population of the Southern Urals”.

From the 1950s, nuclear veterans and civilian Downwinders reported syndromes of ill health similar to Chronic Radiation Syndrome to their governments. This includes the government of the USA and the government of Australia. These reports certainly did not result in Chronic Radiation Syndrome entering the Western medical lexicon.

During the 40-year period of operations at Mayak, all studies on radiation exposure of personnel at the plant and of the off-site population, the doses of exposure, and the possible health effects from radiation exposure were classified for national security reasons”.

anyone who spoke of the reality of disease and disablement suffered by those afflicted by the nuclear weapons tests in Australia were subject to threats of imprisonment by government and to attempts of censorship by the British and Australian authorities (Marsden, cited in Cross). It took 3 decades for the Australian government to release nuclear veterans from the threat of legal action and imprisonment if they spoke.

Chronic Radiation Syndrome,  https://nuclearexhaust.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/chronic-radiation-syndrome/   Paul Langley, 9 June 19 The claim that Australian nuclear veterans suffer enhanced risk of cancer has been confirmed by the Australian Government only as recently as 2006. The official government position is that the enhanced risk suffered by the nuclear test veterans is shown in health survey results. However the Australian government refuses to acknowledge that radiation exposures due to the testing of nuclear weapons as the cause of this increased risk.

Scientists under contract to the Australian government located at Adelaide performed the analysis of the 2006 health survey results. These scientists initially suggested that exposure to petrol fumes in the Australian desert might be the cause of the increased cancer risk suffered by nuclear veterans.

This suggestion, present in the Health Survey draft report, did not make it into the final report. Instead, we are presented with a mystery. Though the scientists claim certainty in their position that the nuclear veterans’ exposure to nuclear weapons detonations was not the cause of their increased cancer risk, the scientists are unable to find any other cause.

It’s a mystery, apparently, to Australian science in the service of the State. Not that this is uniquely Australian. It is universal among the Nuclear Powers. (It is all the more perplexing given Dr. P. Couch’s compassionate and detailed submission to a Senate inquiry examining the impact of the British Nuclear Tests in Australia on the personnel involved. Dr. Couch’s submission described the suffering endured by Commonwealth Police personnel who guarded the Maralinga Nuclear Test Site after military activity had ceased. One would have logically thought that if personnel were affected by service at Maralinga in times after the cessation of weapons testing, then so were the military personnel who actually saw the bombs explode, and who saw the plutonium dust disperse during the “minor trials”. )

The report states:

“The cancer incidence study showed an overall increase in the number of cancers in test participants, similar to that found in the mortality study. The number of cancer cases found among participants was 2456, which was 23% higher than expected. A significant increase in both the number of deaths and the number of cases was found for (figures in
brackets show increase in mortality and incidence):

Continue reading

June 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Labor leader Anthony Albanese supports UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty : News Corpse doesn’t like him!

ALP leader’s stance on nuclear weapons risks backlash: MPs, THE AUSTRALIAN,   Greg Brown 31 May 19, Anthony Albanese’s left-wing ­positions on foreign policy, ­including his support for a UN treaty that would pressure the US to eliminate its nuclear program, could become an electoral vulnerability, Labor MPs have warned.

The Opposition Leader, who has previously called for the phasing out of uranium mining and played down the Victorian Labor government’s support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is being closely watched by colleagues who want him to adopt a more hawkish foreign policy platform.

At the ALP national conference last December, Mr Albanese tried to move a motion that would oblige Labor to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was opposed by his now deputy leader, Richard Marles, and foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong.

The treaty, which has not been signed by the US or Britain, prohibits signatories from developing, testing and producing nuclear weapons. Its critics argue that rogue states such as Russia and North Korea would continue to develop weapons.

The motion passed after the Labor Right, led by Mr Marles, negotiated conditions on Labor signing the treaty.

“I am pleased that this motion before us today says that Labor in government will sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” Mr Albanese said in December…….

Mr Albanese has historically promoted alternative foreign policy views within the labour movement, including his push against Julia Gillard’s move to export uranium to India.

The Grayndler MP also described the Andrews government’s BRI agreement as being “much ado about nothing”, and said concerns about Chinese ­influence were naive. During the election campaign, Mr Albanese said coming into contact with the Communist Party in China was “no more shocking than someone having contact with the Liberal Party or the Labor Party here because they don’t have a separation of state and party there”….. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/alp-leaders-stance-on-nuclear-weapons-risks-backlash-mps/news-story/ed7c7a12202704467eae9c5635c79116

June 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why is UK govt covering up the records on nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s?

May 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, secrets and lies, wastes, weapons and war | 1 Comment

British exhibition on nuclear testing glosses over the impact on Aboriginal people

Cold War exhibition tries to airbrush Britain’s dark history of nuclear testing, The Conversation, Sue Rabbitt Roff, Researcher, Social History/Tutor in Medical Education, University of Dundee, May 2, 2019  A new exhibition about the Cold War recently opened at the UK National Archives at Kew in south-west London. Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed seeks to tell the story of how the years of high nuclear tensions affected the UK, from spy paranoia to civil defence posters to communications at the heart of government. …..

an extremely important facet of Britain’s Cold War has been almost entirely airbrushed from the story. There is barely anything in the exhibition about the 45 atomic and nuclear weapons detonations carried out by the British: 12 in Australia from 1952-57, nine in the central Pacific in 1957-58, and a further 24 alongside the Americans in the Nevada desert until as recently as 1991. The effects on the health of all this testing on indigenous people and some 22,000 British servicemen who were sent as observers is still being researched.
The Cold War exhibition includes three photos showing the atmospheric effect of the 1952 detonation off the Montebello Islands off north-western Australia. There is one additional picture of the hydrogen bomb that was exploded near Christmas Island in May 1957, the first of the central Pacific series, which persuaded the US to resume nuclear collaboration with the UK. And that’s about it. Worse, the exhibition includes a map of the global impact of the nuclear era in which the test locations in Australia are obscured by lettering – not least Maralinga, an important Aboriginal area in which seven detonations took place.

Files under review

My understanding is that decisions about the content of the exhibition were finalised late last year. Interestingly, this was around the same time as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the public body with ultimate responsibility for the UK’s nuclear legacy withdrew recordsfrom the National Archives relating to 1950s nuclear weapons tests that had been declassified decades ago, pending a “security review” by the Ministry of Defence and Atomic Weapons Establishment. Specialists in this field have long complained about the many files concerning British testing that have remained secret, which makes the withdrawal of declassified files all the more unsettling………

Remembrance, The omissions at the London Cold War exhibition are a reminder about the UK’s low-key approach to its weapons testing history. The story doesn’t only need to be properly told at this exhibition, it needs a permanent public space. Yet no existing museum dedicated to Britain’s wars is interested in giving it house room – not even the records and memorabilia of all the military personnel sent to observe the tests. A number of years ago I was quietly told while walking down a corridor in one major institution not to offer it my own records because “they will end up in the skip”.

My years working in this field indicate to me that successive governments seem to want the story of British nuclear testing to die off naturally. But surely, at the very least, the point of the National Archives is to preserve the records to ensure that it is never allowed to be forgotten. https://theconversation.com/cold-war-exhibition-tries-to-airbrush-britains-dark-history-of-nuclear-testing-116237

May 2, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK nuclear testing in Australia – Trident anniversary – no cause for celebration.

Trident celebrations ignore Aboriginal victims of British nuclear weapons testing, Green Left, Linda Pearson, April 26, 2019 Issue 1218, Scotland   

THE Royal Navy’s plan to hold a “national services of thanksgiving” at Westminster Abbey to mark 50 years of Britain’s submarine-based nuclear weapons has provoked condemnation from senior clergy and peace campaigners.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) General Secretary Kate Hudson said the plan is “morally repugnant” and the organisation is urging supporters to convey their opposition to Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson. Two Bishops and more than 20 priests have called on Westminster Abbey to cancel the service, which is set to take place on May 3……

The rhetoric of “deterrence” and “defence” is routinely invoked by nuclear-armed states to obscure the horrifying truth about nuclear weapons and justify national security doctrines that rely on them. Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power; “designed to indiscriminately kill and destroy thousands of innocent civilians”, as the Bishop of Colchester told The Times last week. This reality was recognised by most of the world’s countries, which voted to ban nuclear weapons in 2017.

Britain’s nuclear weapons program has already destroyed the lives of countless innocent civilians. More than 1200 Indigenous Australians were exposed to radiation during British nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s, while many others were displaced. The effects continue to be experienced by their families today. Some are now calling on the British government to apologise for the testing, instead of celebrating Trident.

Nuclear testing in Australia

Britain conducted 12 major nuclear weapons tests in Australia at the Montebello Islands, and at Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.

After securing the agreement of the Australian government, the British established a permanent test site at Maralinga in 1955. Seven major and several hundred “minor” tests were carried out there, releasing 100kg of radioactive materials into the surrounding area.

The British and Australian governments of the day demonstrated a callous disregard for the lives of Aboriginal people that is characteristic of the settler-colonial mindset. Permission to conduct the testing was not sought from Aboriginal landowners and the Australian government decided they should not be informed of the risks.

When an Australian scientist asked British authorities about the potential danger to local Aboriginal people, the response was that “a dying race couldn’t influence the defence of Western civilisation”.

Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their land prior to the tests, destroying their way of life. Others experienced serious health issues as a result of their exposure to radiation.

Yankunytjatjara man Yami Lester went blind after a “black mist” from the explosions enveloped his country. Others experienced skin rashes, diarrhea and vomiting. Today, Aboriginal communities in the area experience high rates of diseases associated with the effects of radiation poisoning.

Yami Lester’s daughter, Karina Lester, and her family played a crucial role in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). They collected and shared stories from the survivors of nuclear weapons testing that were instrumental in convincing 122 states that the only safe way to deal with nuclear weapons is to eliminate them.

ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to bring about the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The historic treaty recognises “the disproportionate impact of nuclear-weapon activities on Indigenous peoples”. The British and Australian governments boycotted the UN negotiations, however, and have ruled out signing the treaty.

No cause for celebration

Karina Lester said “survivors of the British Nuclear Tests carried out on Australian soil in the 1950’s and 1960’s in South Australia’s outback are still haunted. The Indigenous communities still suffer with high numbers of deaths, cancers, respiratory illnesses and autoimmune disease.”

Several attempts to clean up the Maralinga site have been made by British and Australian governments, thanks to the campaigning of survivors like Yami Lester, but contamination at the site remains. In 1995, Aboriginal peoples received just £7.5 million for the loss and contamination of their land. Only £110,000 has been paid to five Aboriginal people to compensate for their exposure to radiation. A class action was blocked by Britain’s Supreme Court in 2013.

Karina Lester said that the affected communities “have had no apology for the wrongdoings on our traditional lands to this day. As the British Government celebrates 50 years with nuclear weapons, Australia’s Indigenous communities in South Australia wear the scars.”

Instead of celebrating, Lester said, “we Indigenous South Australians urge the British government to own up and apologise for your actions…………”https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/trident-celebrations-ignore-aboriginal-victims-british-nuclear-weapons-testing

April 27, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A Maralinga nuclear veteran’s grim story

Maralinga nuclear bomb test survivor reveals truth of what happened in the SA desert  https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/messenger/east-hills/maralinga-nuclear-bomb-test-survivor-reveals-truth-of-what-happened-in-the-sa-desert/news-story/697b17f6d3427a78aa0262b09727c169, 24 Apr 19

The nuclear bomb tests, under British Government control, at Maralinga in far west South Australia in the 1950s were conducted at the highest level of secrecy. But they had thousands of witnesses. Most were Australian servicemen, innocently used as guinea pigs and exposed to deadly radiation. Craig Cook talks to a survivor, one of the last of a group of men who built the Maralinga camp as part of 23 Construction Squadron and watched in awe as the bombs were exploded, little knowing they were risking their lives and the futures of their children.

Tony Spruzen knew the drill at the top secret Maralinga facility in the South Australian desert in the spring of 1956.

Just like hundreds of others at the nuclear site at 11-mile camp during Operation Buffalo, he was told to turn his back and cover his eyes to protect himself from the gigantic glare of the exploding atomic bomb.

What they didn’t tell the Australian Army sapper was, at the moment of the flash of detonation, he would see the bones of his hand through his tightly shut eyelids.

“It was like a massive x-ray,” Tony, 83, from Glengowrie says. ‘Unlike anything I’d ever known before.”

A week after One Tree, on October 6, 1956, Spruzen witnessed the detonation of Buffalo 2, named Marcoo.

The bomb was only a tenth the size of One Tree but this time was detonated directly above and just under the ground.

“The bomb was in an amphitheatre of hills and we were far closer to that one, maybe only 200 yards away,” he remembers.

“We were close enough to see the trenches with dummy soldiers in them holding rifles and fake aeroplanes and tanks used to test the blast effect.

“And we could see the scientists walking around in their white suits checking out the site before and afterwards but we were just in khaki shorts and short sleeved shorts. Even the dignitaries had no protection.”

Every hour, from five hours out, an elaborate PA system across the complex announced the timing of the bomb detonation.

In the final 30 seconds, and with a rising and excited inclination, the voice on the PA dramatically counted….ten, nine, eight…down to zero.

When Marcoo exploded at 7am it only took a few seconds for a heavy shower of dust to descend on the witnesses.

“We had this large piece of litmus paper attached to our shirts,” Spruzen recalls

Spruzen, originally from Victoria and a carpenter by trade, enlisted in the Army at just 16.

Four year later he was at Maralinga as part of a detachment of 23 Construction Squadron, an acclaimed unit of the Royal Australian Engineers and exclusively raised in South Australia.

Around 40 young men were selected from the unit to build a desert tent camp with cook houses and latrines for the Commonwealth military ‘high-ups’ who were having their first look at the impact of the devastating nuclear weapon.

Around 200km from the ocean, the tent city gained the facetious name of the ‘Sea View Holiday Camp’.

“It was an adventure…we were all excited,” he recalls.

“A lot of young single guys together and we had some fun.”

The lads knew it was serious too as this was a hush-hush operation. They weren’t even allowed to take a camera along for snapshots so Spruzen has no personal photos from Maralinga.

“Then we all turned around to see this mushroom cloud climbing into the sky. The next thing was the blast. The boom was deafening…and then the wind came about thirty seconds after that blowing dust and soil and debris all over us.”

But he does have a terrible reminder of his three months spent in far western South Australia.

“Of the 40 men who went up with me I only know of three of us still around,” he says. “The rest have all died – many from cancers.”

The first Maralinga bomb, Buffalo 1, with the nickname One Tree, was detonated after being dropped from a 31m high tower.

At 15 kiloton it was the same size as Little Boy, the bomb dropped by the US air force that demolished the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945, killing more than 100,000 instantly and tens of thousands slowly in the aftermath from burns and radiation poisoning.

“They said, keep an eye on that and if it changes to pink come and see us. Well it turned pink for every one of us.

“Had I have known what I know now I wouldn’t have been so close.”

Transferred to Sydney on a training course, Spruzen missed the final two detonations at Maralinga that year: on October 11, 1956, Buffalo 3 (Kite) was released by a Royal Air Force Vickers Valiant bomber, the first drop of a British nuclear weapon from an aircraft; and then on October 22, and again dropped from the 31m tower, (Buffalo 4) Breakaway exploded.

There were a total of seven nuclear desert tests at Maralinga performed during Operations Buffalo and Antler.

The 1985 McClelland Royal Commission heavily criticised the detonations, declaring the weather conditions were inappropriate and led to the widespread scattering of radioactive material.

The radioactive cloud from Buffalo 1 reached more than 11,000m into the air and with a northerly wind blowing radioactivity was detected across Adelaide.

Radioactive dust clouds from other bombs were detected in Northern Territory, Queensland and across New South Wales, as far away as Sydney, 2500km from Maralinga.

Around 12,000 Australian servicemen served at British nuclear test sites in the southern hemisphere between 1952 and 1963.

In recent years, the British Government’s claim that they never used humans “for guinea pig-type experiments” in nuclear weapons trials in Australia has been revealed to be a lie.

Tony Spruzen has struggled to come to terms with being placed in danger by his own government who had full knowledge of the consequences of exposure to radiation.

“Once we all found out later what we’d been exposed to at Maralinga it makes you very angry,” he says.

“We believed them when we were told we would be safe — but we haven’t been.”

Spruzen met his wife Shirley, the daughter of an army veteran, in Adelaide where they settled after marriage in June 1960. He left the army seven months later to work in civil construction. He thought his Maralinga days were well behind him but soon after they came to haunt him.

In the first four years of marriage, the couple agonisingly suffered six miscarriages, including twins.

Alarm bells started ringing when he was sent a survey from Veterans Affairs asking about his general health and, specifically his history of cancers.

“It turned out those involved in the atomic tests had a 30 per cent higher chance than getting cancers than the general public,” he says.

“Most of those got them within the first five years and a majority of those were dead before a decade had passed.”

Spruzen, who eventually had three children with Shirley, didn’t get cancer at that time, although he has since had several melanomas removed.

But when his son was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia at the age of 41, he wondered about the possibility of faulty genes, damaged by exposure to radiation, as has been documented in Japanese survivors of the atomic bombs, jumping a generation.

“My son was told by the QEH (Queen Elizabeth Hospital) there was nothing could be done for him but we went up to Queensland and after a bone marrow transfer from his sister he survived,” he adds.

“A decade on he’s working as strong as he has but I don’t think his condition was a coincidence given my history.

“There’s been nothing (compensation) for those of us who were there although they gave us a white card for our cancers and now we have a (full health) gold card.”

Ken Daly, President Royal Australian Engineers Association says it is the least the men, who literally put their bodies on the line, deserve.

“You get these young men, aged around 25-30, with a history of exposure to radiation, coming down with cancers in those numbers and you just know what has caused it,” he says.

“Many died within a few years of being exposed to the fallout and many passed on generational health problems and birth defects to their children.”

Mr Daly, who was based at Warradale Barracks for 15 years, where 23 Construction was based until being disbanded in the early 1960s, hadn’t heard of the Squadron until around five years ago.

Since then he has been central to the group gaining due recognition.

In its earliest days the Squadron, with a strength of eight officers and 160 in other ranks, built the El Alamein Army Reserve camp, part of which later became the Baxter Detention Centre, outside of Port Augusta.

It also assisted the South Australian community by providing aid during bush fires, the grasshopper plague of 1955, and significant infrastructure construction.

During the record flood of 1956, while those squad members were at Maralinga, the rest of 23 Construction were out sandbagging River Murray towns and then cleaning up after the water receded.

In 2011, the Royal Australian Engineers constructed a memorial at Warradale to all who have served in its ranks.

This year a bronzed engineer’s slouch hat, of actual size, by Western Australian sculptor and former army engineer Ron Gomboc will be incorporated into the memorial.

“The hat will be mounted on the memorial in such a way it will look like it’s suspended in mid-air,” Daly adds.

“It acknowledges the ultimate sacrifice of the more than 1250 engineers who died in World War I and the remarkable service and sacrifice of 23 Construction Squadron that has never been recognised before.”

The slouch hat, costing $6,000 and one of only six to have been cast, will be unveiled during a service at Warradale Barracks at midday on Sunday April 28.

Contact Ken Daly at dailydouble@bigpond.com for further details.

Subscriber only https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/messenger/east-hills/maralinga-nuclear-bomb-test-survivor-reveals-truth-of-what-happened-in-the-sa-desert/news-story/697b17f6d3427a78aa0262b09727c169

April 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, personal stories, reference, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Candidates and MPs supporting the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2019, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Avalon Airshow, a registered charity (!!) hosts weaponized planes – entertainment for kids?

War, What Is It Good For… Besides Blood Lust And The Avalon Airshow? New Matilda,  Dave Sweeney on February 26, 2019

The iconic Avalon Airshow kicks off next week. But events actually get underway today, with a special exhibition for those who like their planes weaponized for death and destruction, writes Dave Sweeney.Australians are generally lucky where it comes to the air – we have big skies and safe planes that routinely take off and land and relocate us for holidays, family re-unions and commerce.

Our airborne images are red kangaroos, flying doctors and grainy newsreels of early aviators breaking new records in old planes.

It is a world away from many other places experience of the sky as a hostile space that threatens rapid and remote destruction and death………

The Avalon Airshow is comprised of two concurrent events: the Australian International Aerospace and Defence Exposition is an industry-only trade-fest that runs for three days before merging with the co-located and more public Australian International Airshow for a further three days of ‘the ultimate family adventure’.

If websites could get breathless this one would need a respirator.

Experience the awesome power of military aviation. A high voltage array of combat aircraft takes centre stage with the thrust and grunt of the latest heavy metal. Marvel as jet fighters, strike bombers and heavy lift leviathans are joined by swarms of attack helicopters, from home and abroad, for a series of breath taking routines and simulated combat manoeuvres.

It’s free for the under-fives, Continue reading

February 28, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK “reviewing” files on nuclear bomb tests in Australia- this smacks of a cover-up

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

“worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

Review or ‘cover up’? Mystery as Australia nuclear weapons tests files withdrawn https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/11/australia/uk-australia-nuclear-archives-intl/index.html, By James Griffiths, CNN

More than 65 years since the UK began conducting secret nuclear weapons testing in the Australian Outback, scores of files about the program have been withdrawn from the country’s National Archives without explanation.

The unannounced move came as a shock to many researchers and historians who rely on the files and have been campaigning to unseal the small number which remain classified.

“Many relevant UK documents have remained secret since the time of the tests, well past the conventional 30 years that government documents are normally withheld,” said expert Elizabeth Tynan, author of “Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story”.

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

Withdrawal of the files was first noted in late December. Access to them has remained closed in the new year.

Dark legacy   The UK conducted 12 nuclear weapons tests in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly in the sparsely populated Outback of South Australia.

Information about the tests remained a tightly held secret for decades. It wasn’t until a Royal Commission was formed in 1984 — in the wake of several damning press reports — that the damage done to indigenous people and the Australian servicemen and women who worked on the testing grounds became widely known.

Indigenous people living nearby had long complained of the effects they suffered, including after a “black mist” settled over one camp near Maralinga in the wake of the Totem I test in October 1953. The mist caused stinging eyes and skin rashes. Others vomited and suffered from diarrhea.

These claims were dismissed and ridiculed by officials for decades — until, in the wake of the Royal Commission report, the UK agreed to pay the Australian government and the traditional owners of the Maralinga lands about AU$46 million ($30 million). The Australian authorities also paid indigenous Maralinga communities a settlement of AU$13.5 million ($9 million).

While the damage done to indigenous communities was acknowledged, much about the Totem I test — and other tests at Maralinga and later at Emu Field — remained secret, even before the recent withdrawal of archive documents.

“The British atomic tests in Australia did considerable harm to indigenous populations, to military and other personnel and to large parts of the country’s territory. This country has every right to know exactly what the tests entailed,” Tynan said. “Mysteries remain about the British nuclear tests in Australia, and these mysteries have become harder to bring to light with the closure of files by the British government.”

Alan Owen, chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, which campaigns on behalf of former servicemen, said “the removal of these documents affects not only our campaign, but affects the many academic organizations that rely on this material.”

“We are very concerned that the documents will not be republished and the (Ministry of Defense) will again deny any responsibility for the effects the tests have had on our membership,” Owen told CNN.

Unclear motives Responding to a request for comment from CNN, a spokeswoman for the National Archives said the withdrawal of the Australian nuclear test files was done at the request of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which has ultimate responsibility over them.

The NDA said that “a collection of records has been temporarily withdrawn from general access via The National Archive at Kew as part of a review process.”

“It is unclear, at this time, how long the review will take, however NDA anticipates that many of the documents will be restored to the public archive in due course,” a spokeswoman said.

Jon Agar, a professor of science and technology at University College London, said the withdrawal “is not just several records but two whole classes of files, many of which had previously been open to researchers at the National Archives.”

“These files are essential to any historian of the UK nuclear projects — which of course included tests in Australia. They have been closed without proper communication or consultation,” he added.

Agar shared correspondence he had with the NDA in which a spokeswoman said some files would be moved to a new archive — Nucleus — in the far north of Scotland. Howevethe Nucleus archives focus on the British civil nuclear industry, and it is unclear why files on military testing would be moved there, or why those files would need to be withdrawn to do so.

Nucleus also does not offer the type of online access to its records as the National Archives does.

“Why not just copy the files if the nuclear industry needs them at Nucleus for administrative reasons? Why take them all out of public view?” Agar wrote on Twitter.

Information freedom In correspondence with both CNN and Agar, the NDA suggested those interested in the files could file freedom of information (FOI) requests for them.

Under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, British citizens and concerned parties are granted the “right to access recorded information held by public sector organizations.”

FOI requests can be turned down if the government deems the information too sensitive or the request too expensive to process. Under a separate rule, the UK government should also declassify documents between 20 and 30 years after they were created.

According to the BBC, multiple UK government departments — including the Home Office and Cabinet Office — have been repeatedly condemned by auditors for their “poor,” “disappointing” and “unacceptable” treatment of FOI applications.

Commenting on the nuclear documents, Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, a UK-based NGO, said it was “worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

“It suggests that the historical record is fragile and transient and liable to be snatched away at any time, with or without good reason,” he added.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, history, secrets and lies, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Nuclear arms race danger is increasing – Australia endorses it

Nuclear arms race risk grows, amid US and Russia tensions, Newcastle Herald , Damon Cronshaw , JANUARY 7 2019,  The risk of a new nuclear arms race appears to have significantly increased through “fractured relations between the US and Russia”, a University of Newcastle academic says.

January 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why Labor is taking the right course on nuclear disarmament

December 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Labor is right to support a nuclear ban treaty

Labor’s pledge to commit to nuclear disarmament puts the alternative party of government on the right side of history.

The gulf between the shenanigans of way too many politicians, and the growing urgency of grave and looming threats has rarely seemed wider. Action on crucial issues languishes while parliamentarians make naked grabs for power, acting in the interests only of themselves. Poor personal behaviour seems endemic. On the two unprecedented dangers looming over all humanity – nuclear war and climate disruption – Australia has been not just missing in action, but actively on the wrong side of history, part of the problem rather than the solution.

The government’s own figures demonstrate that our country, awash with renewable sun and wind, is way off track to meet even a third of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2030 – itself nowhere near enough.

Not only is nuclear disarmament stalled, but one by one, the agreements that reduced and constrained nuclear weapons, hard-won fruit of the end of the first cold war, are being trashed. All the nuclear-armed states are investing massively not simply in keeping their weapons indefinitely, but developing new ones that are more accurate, more deadly and more “usable”. The cold war is back, and irresponsible and explicit threats to use nuclear weapons have proliferated. Any positive effect that Australia might have on reducing nuclear weapons dangers from the supposed influence afforded us by our uncritical obsequiousness to the US is nowhere in sight. Our government has been incapable of asserting any independence even from the current most extreme, dysfunctional and unfit US administration. The US has recently renounced its previous commitments under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT); we have said nothing.

The one bright light in this gathering gloom is the 2017 UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. For its role in helping to bring this historic treaty into being, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) was awarded the Nobel peace prize for 2017 – the first to an entity born in Australia. This treaty provides the first comprehensive and categorical prohibition of nuclear weapons. It sets zero nuclear weapons as the clear and consistent standard for all countries and will help drive elimination of these worst weapons of mass destruction, just as the treaties banning biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have played a decisive role in progressing the elimination of those other indiscriminate and inhumane weapons. The treaty lays out a clear pathway for all states, with and without nuclear weapons, to fulfil their binding legal obligation to accomplish nuclear disarmament. It is currently the only such pathway.

Regrettably, the Australian government was the most active “weasel” in opposing the treaty’s development at every step and was one of the first to say it would not sign, even though we have signed every other treaty banning an unacceptable weapon.

Hence the Labor party’s commitment at its recent national conference in Adelaide that “Labor in government will sign and ratify the Ban Treaty” is an important and welcome step. It is a clear commitment, allowing no room for weaselling.

The considerations articulated alongside this commitment are fairly straightforward and consistent with the commitment. First, recognition of the need for “an effective verification and enforcement architecture” for nuclear disarmament. The treaty itself embodies this. Governments joining the treaty must designate a competent international authority “to negotiate and verify the irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons” and nuclear weapons programmes, “including the elimination or irreversible conversion of all nuclear-weapons-related facilities”. Australia should also push for the same standard for any nuclear disarmament that happens outside the treaty.

Second, the Labor resolution prioritises “the interaction of the Ban Treaty with the longstanding Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”. The treaty has been carefully crafted to be entirely compatible with the NPT and explicitly reaffirms that the NPT “serves as a cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime”, and that its full and effective implementation “has a vital role to play in promoting international peace and security”. All the governments supporting the treaty support the NPT, and the NPT itself enshrines a commitment for all its members to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, and the International Committee of the Red Cross are among those who have affirmed that the treaty and the NPT are entirely consistent, complementary and mutually reinforcing. Even opponents of the treaty recognise that prohibition is an essential part of achieving and sustaining a world free of nuclear weapons.

Third, the Labor resolution refers to “Work to achieve universal support for the Ban Treaty.” This too is mirrored in one of the commitments governments take on in joining the treaty, to encourage other states to join, “with the goal of universal adherence of all States to the Treaty.”

An Australian government joining the treaty would enjoy wide popular support in doing so – an Ipsos poll last month found that 79% of Australians (and 83% of Labor voters) support, and less than 8% oppose, Australia joining the treaty.

Australia would also stop sticking out like a sore thumb among our southeast Asian and Pacific Island neighbours and be able to work more effectively with them. Brunei, Cook Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Kiribati, Laos, New Zealand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam have already signed the treaty.

Most importantly, joining the treaty and renouncing nuclear weapons would mean that Australia would become part of the solution rather than the problem of the acute existential peril that hangs over all of us while nuclear weapons exist, ready to be launched within minutes. Time is not on our side. Of course this crucial humanitarian issue should be above party politics. The commitment from the alternative party of government to join the treaty and get on the right side of history when Labor next forms government is to be warmly welcomed. It is to be hoped that the 78% of federal parliamentary Labor members who have put on record their support for Australia joining the treaty by signing Ican’s parliamentary pledge will help ensure Labor keeps this landmark promise.

 Dr Tilman Ruff is co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) and Nobel peace prize winner (2017)

December 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment