Pine Gap a target as Ukraine invasion raises nuclear war risk, Australian defence expert warns

A humiliated Russia could be driven closer to China in a ‘grand coalition’, former Joint Intelligence Organisation director says

Guardian, Ben Doherty 7 Sept 22,

Australia could become a nuclear target due to its hosting of a US military base at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory, one of Australia’s leading defence strategists has warned.

Prof Paul Dibb, an emeritus professor at the Australian National University and former director of Australia’s Joint Intelligence Organisation, said the current Russian invasion of Ukraine carried potential global nuclear consequences, with the possibility of a defeated and humiliated Russia pushed closer to China in “a grand coalition … united not by ideology but by complementary grievances”……….

Australia should not feel its geographic distance from the epicentre of the conflict affords it any significant protection, Dibb argued.

“We need to plan on the basis that Pine Gap continues to be a nuclear target, and not only for Russia. If China attacks Taiwan, Pine Gap is likely to be heavily involved,” he said.

“We need to remember that Pine Gap is a fundamentally important element in US war fighting and deterrence of conflict.”

Pine Gap is a highly secret US-Australian military installation near Alice Springs. It serves as a major hub for US global intelligence interception, and for satellite surveillance operations for military and nuclear missile threats in the region.

Russia is unlikely to be able to subjugate Ukraine in its current invasion, Dibb said, but Ukrainian military is unlikely to succeed in driving out Russian troops entirely. “Most likely there’ll be a negotiated conclusion, probably at the ceasefire talk.”

Regardless, Dibb argued, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was unlikely to be deposed as a result, but he would be a leader grown increasingly isolated, and the threat of nuclear escalation was real.

“There’s little doubt that Putin is the sort of person who won’t resile from the use of nuclear weapons, particularly if it looks as though he’s losing this war. But he must surely realise that there’s no such thing as the limited use of tactical nuclear weapons in isolation from their escalation to a full-scale strategic nuclear war.

“Once we enter the slippery slope of even limited nuclear exchanges, the end result will be escalation to mutual annihilation – something about which both Putin and Xi Jinping may need reminding.”

The comprehensive defeat of Russia in Ukraine would bring its own dangers, Dibb argued.

A severely weakened, isolated and smaller Russia might then become more – not less – dangerous for the world.”

A Russia left humiliated would be driven closer to China, Dibb said, with the nuclear powers forming what he described as a “grand coalition”, unified “not by ideology but by complementary grievances”.

Dibb told the Guardian: “The most serious threat to America would be a de facto alliance between China and Russia, united in the common cause of their hatred for the west.” ………………….


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