Archive for the ‘weapons and war’ Category

JOHN PILGER: Danger of war exists if we don’t speak up now

May 4, 2023

While no threat from China exists, media propagandists are trying to ignite a war the likes of which we’ve never seen. John Pilger reminds us that we need to raise our voices before it’s too late.

“IN 1935, the Congress of American Writers was held in New York City, followed by another two years later. They called on ‘the hundreds of poets, novelists, dramatists, critics, short story writers and journalists’ to discuss the ‘rapid crumbling of capitalism’ and the beckoning of another war………………………………………………

The journalist and novelist Martha Gellhorn spoke up for the homeless and unemployed, and “all of us under the shadow of violent great power”. ………………………….

On 7 March, the two oldest newspapers in Australia – The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – published several pages on “the looming threat” of China. They coloured the Pacific Ocean red. Chinese eyes were martial, on the march and menacing. The Yellow Peril was about to fall down as if by the weight of gravity.

No logical reason was given for an attack on Australia by China. A “panel of experts” presented no credible evidence; one of them is a former director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a front for the Defence Department in Canberra, the Pentagon in Washington, the governments of Britain, Japan and Taiwan, and the West’s war industry.

There is no threat to Australia. None. The faraway “lucky” country has no enemies, least of all China, its largest trading partner. Yet China-bashing that draws on Australia’s long history of racism towards Asia has become something of a sport for the self-ordained “experts”. What do Chinese-Australians make of this? Many are confused and fearful.

The authors of this grotesque piece of dog-whistling and obsequiousness to American power are Peter Hartcher and Matthew Knott, “national security reporters” I think they are called. I remember Hartcher from his Israeli government-paid jaunts. The other one, Knott, is a mouthpiece for the suits in Canberra. Neither has ever seen a war zone and its extremes of human degradation and suffering.  

How did it come to this? Martha Gellhorn would say if she were here. Where on Earth are the voices saying no? Where is the comradeship?

The voices are heard in the samizdat of this website and others. In literature, the likes of John Steinbeck, Carson McCullers and George Orwell are obsolete. Post-modernism is in charge now. Liberalism has pulled up its political ladder. A once somnolent social democracy, Australia, has enacted a web of new laws protecting secretive, authoritarian power and preventing the right to know. Whistleblowers are outlaws, to be tried in secret. An especially sinister law bans “foreign interference” by those who work for foreign companies. What does this mean?

Democracy is notional now; there is the all-powerful elite of the corporation merged with the state and the demands of “identity”. American admirals are paid thousands of dollars a day by the Australian taxpayer for “advice”. Right across the West, our political imagination has been pacified by PR and distracted by the intrigues of corrupt, ultra-low-rent politicians: a Johnson or a Trump or a Sleepy Joe or a Zelensky.

No writers’ congress in 2023 worries about “crumbling capitalism” and the lethal provocations of “our” leaders. The most infamous of these, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, a prima facie criminal under the Nuremberg Standard, is free and rich. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who dared journalists to prove their readers had a right to know, is in his second decade of incarceration…………………………………………………..more,17470


Caitlin Johnstone: Australia Pays “retired U.S. military figure” Clapper to advance USA’s Military Aims

April 29, 2023

retired U.S. military figure” generally means someone who used to be paid by the U.S. government to advance the interests of the U.S. empire, and is now paid by corporations and/or foreign governments to advance the interests of the U.S. empire.

Among the American swamp monsters hired by Canberra is the Obama administration’s spy chief, who has an established track record of lying and manipulating to advance the interests of the U.S. empire.

By Caitlin Johnstone April 27, 2023

Australia has been paying insiders of the U.S. war machine for consultation on how to run the nation’s military, a massive conflict of interest given that Washington has been grooming Australia for a role in its war agendas against China.

In its article “Retired U.S. admirals charging Australian taxpayers thousands of dollars per day as defence consultants,” the ABC reports that, according to documents the Pentagon provided Congress last month, “dozens of retired U.S. military figures have been granted approval to work for Australia since 2012.”

For those who don’t speak imperialist, “retired U.S. military figure” generally means someone who used to be paid by the U.S. government to advance the interests of the U.S. empire, and is now paid by corporations and/or foreign governments to advance the interests of the U.S. empire.

These corrupt warmongers rotate in and out of the revolving door of the D.C. swamp, from government to war-industry jobs to punditry gigs to influential think tanks and then back again into government, advancing the interests of the U.S. empire the entire time and growing wealthy in the process.

This dynamic allows a permanent constellation of reliable empire managers to continually exert influence around the world in support of the U.S. empire, regardless of who gets voted into or out of office in the performative display of electoral politics. It’s a big part of why U.S. foreign policy remains the same regardless of who’s officially running the elected government in Washington, and it’s a big part of why the media and arms industry which support the U.S. war machine keep playing the same tune as well.

Among the American swamp monsters Australia paid for consulting work is the Obama administration’s spy chief James Clapper, who has an established track record of lying and manipulating to advance the interests of the U.S. empire:

  • In 2013 Clapper committed perjury by telling the U.S. Senate under oath that the NSA does not knowingly collect data on millions of Americans, only to have that lie exposed by the Edward Snowden leaks a few months later.
  • In 2016 Clapper played a foundational role in fomenting public hysteria about Russia with the flimsy ODNI report on alleged Russian election interference, which remains riddled with massive plot holes. He would later go on to repeatedly voice the opinion that Russians are “almost genetically driven” toward nefarious and subversive behavior.
  • In 2020 Clapper signed the infamous and now fully discredited letter from former intelligence insiders saying the Hunter Biden laptop story was likely a Russian disinfo op, falsely telling CNN that the story was “textbook Soviet Russian tradecraft at work” and that the emails on the laptop had “no metadata” on them.

Also among the American military consultants paid by Australia is a man we just discussed the other day, William Hilarides, who will be telling Australia how to reconfigure its navy because apparently no Australians are available for that job. We now know that according to the released Pentagon documents Canberra has already paid Hilarides almost $2.5 million since 2016 for his consulting work.

This information was originally reported by The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock and Nate Jones, who last year also broke the remarkable story that a former U.S. navy admiral named Stephen Johnson had actually served as Australia’s deputy navy secretary, a position which needless to say is not normally open to foreigners.

This is just one of the many ways that Australia is being interwoven into the U.S. war machine, from the 2023 Defence Strategic Review which further enshrines Australia’s position as a U.S. military asset, to Australian Secretary of Defence Richard Marles saying that the Defence Force is moving “beyond interoperability to interchangeability” with the U.S. military and being suspiciously secretive about who his golfing buddies were in his last trip to the U.S., to Australian officials angrily dismissing attempts to find out if the U.S. has been bringing nuclear weapons into Australia, to the Australian media pounding Australian consciousness with anti-China hysteria to such an extent that hate crimes are now being perpetrated against Asian Australians.

……………………………………… Australia has always seemed like a fairly irrelevant player on the world stage because of its impotent subservience to Washington. But it’s becoming clear it is exactly because of Australia’s blind subservience to Washington that Australia is worth paying attention to, since that relationship may well end up giving the nation a front-row seat to World War Three.

Australians are going to have to wake up to what’s being done and the abominable agendas the nation is being exploited to advance. Australians are being groomed for a military confrontation of unimaginable horror, one which absolutely does not need to take place, all in the name of something as trivial as securing U.S. planetary hegemony. Australians have got to start saying no to this, starting right now.


Wouldn’t it be sane, if Australia just cancelled this absurd nuclear submarine mess?

March 9, 2023

Why do I call it a mess? Let me count the ways:

  1. Australia does not need nuclear submarines. They’re suitable for the USA to make long distance attacks on China, but not suitable for Australia’s need – which is to monitor our coastline.
  2. They will be obsolete before they’re able to be operational.
  3. They are an absurd expense $171 billion and upwards, depriving Australia’s regular military of needed funds, and adding to Australia’s economic woes, and national debt
  4. They are to be fuelled by Highly Enriched Uranium, meaning that regional and global nuclear proliferation norms are overturned, causing tensions and problems with Australia’s near neighbours . Not only New Zealand, but also several South East Asian and South Pacific States are members of nuclear-free zone treaties.
  5. The  decision on the nuclear submarines was made with no real debate in Parliament . On the only occasion when Australians were able to give their views on this issue to the parliament’s treaties committee, more than 100 submissions were made, even though only five days’ notice was given for these to be received. These submissions were overwhelmingly against the proposal.
  6. There has been little or no discussion on the toxic wastes from the nuclear submarines, nor on the final disposal of the submarines themselves – there seems to be no plan for this, nor on other safety aspects.
  7. It is clear, to the point of mirth, that the uK and UK are competing with each other to market the subs to Australia.
  8. The process of deciding on the subs is full of conflicts of interest and corruption
  9. The subs are now being “sold” to the Australian public on the premise of “jobs, jobs jobs” – when it’s likely that the bulk of jobs, especially high career ones, will go to USA or UK workers
  10. The Australian public is being fed a media barrage of enthusiasm for the subs, with rare mention of any downsides.

I am utterly fed up with Australia’s political leaders –    quite a nauseating spectacle on ABC TV news tonight, with Defence Minister Richard Marles fawning all over that dreadful previous PM Morrison, and the warmongering Liberal leader Peter Dutton.

Richard Marles and Jonathan Mead babble on about nuclear submarines, (adding to the confusion)

February 13, 2023

Australia will have ‘unequivocal’ control over nuclear-powered submarines, insists chief adviser

‘When we take command of our first boat, we will have sovereign capability’, says Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead,

Daniel Hurst Guardian, 14 Feb 23,

The head of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine taskforce insists Australia will retain full operational control over the submarines, while potentially having US or British engineers on board to provide technical advice.

The comments follow renewed debate in recent weeks over whether the flagship project of the Aukus pact – which relies on support from the US and the UK – will lead to an erosion of Australian sovereignty.

The former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has been calling on the government to answer whether the submarines could be “operated, sustained and maintained by Australia without the support or supervision of the US navy”, and whether that effectively meant “sovereignty would be shared with the US”.

But the head of the taskforce advising the Australian government on the acquisition of at least eight submarines, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, used an interview with ABC TV on Monday evening to assert Australian control.

“When we take command of our first boat, we will have sovereign capability,” he told the 7.30 program.

“We will be commanding and controlling, under the Australian government direction, that nuclear-powered submarine.”…………………………….

Like the defence minister, Richard Marles, Mead expressed confidence that the plan to be announced soon would ensure there was no capability gap between the retirement of Australia’s existing Collins class diesel-electric submarines and the entry into service of nuclear-powered boats. But he did not provide specifics.

Mead also described the purpose of nuclear-powered submarines as being to “put the greatest question of doubt in the enemy’s mind” and “if necessary, respond with massive firepower”.

Marles used a speech to parliament last week to declare that acquiring nuclear-powered submarines would “dramatically enhance” Australia’s sovereignty, rather than undermine it………

Marles said Australia would “always make sovereign, independent decisions on how our capabilities are employed”.

In the wake of that speech, Turnbull tweeted that it was “quite a different thing to have a major platform that cannot be operated without the supervision/support of another country”

Turnbull said on Monday evening: “I think the question which has not been answered is: could the submarines be operated if US technical advice/support were withdrawn? The entire resources of the Australian news media have been unable to pin the government or the navy down on that.”

Paul Keating, the former Labor prime minister has previously raised concerns about increased reliance on US support and suggested Australia’s sovereignty was being “wilfully suborned”. 

Nuclear zealot Jonathan Mead touts nuclear-powered submarines- Australia to have “full control” – (oh yeah?)

February 13, 2023

Australian commanders to have complete control over nuclear-powered submarines and reactors

ABC 7.30 / By Sarah Ferguson and James Elton, 13 Feb 23

Australian Navy commanders will have full operational control over their submarines and the powerful nuclear reactors onboard, despite the potential presence of US or UK engineers. 

Key points:

  • US or UK personnel may go to sea on Australian nuclear submarines
  • Australian technicians will understand “every detail” of how the reactors work
  • Construction in Adelaide shipyards may begin by end of 2020s

Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, chief of the AUKUS submarine taskforce, has rejected criticisms that the nuclear propulsion program, based on US technology, would undermine Australian sovereignty. 

“When we take command of our first boat, we will have sovereign capability,” he told 7.30‘s Sarah Ferguson in an exclusive interview. 

Details of extensive plans to build a fleet of eight boats powered with weapons-grade uranium will be revealed next month. 

Vice Admiral Mead was asked what would happen onboard in the event of any dispute over the nuclear reactor, including following an accident, between a US or UK engineer and the boat’s Australian commander.

“We would expect anyone, be it a foreign engineer or an Australian engineer, to provide advice,” he said. 

But the commanding officer of that submarine, the Australian, would have “command and control over the reactor, over the submarine – unequivocal”. 

Australians will understand ‘every detail’ of welded-shut nuclear reactors

The defining feature of the submarine deal is that the highly enriched uranium reactors that power the boats will be supplied by either the US or UK, and “welded shut”.

The use of weapons-grade fuel means the reactors do not need to be opened for refuelling over the 30-plus-year life of the boat. Reactors that run on low-enriched uranium, like those used by the French and Chinese navies, do require refuelling. 

This also means Australia will not need to manufacture nuclear fuel – one of the commitments the country has made to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Vice Admiral Mead said Australia would, however, be sending people to US “design facilities” so we would understand “every element of detail of that reactor”. 

No Australian reactors … for now 

Asked if Australia is considering building its own nuclear reactors in the future, Vice Admiral Mead said: “We are not envisioning that at the moment, we haven’t gone into that at the moment.” 

The senior Navy official has spoken previously about the need for the AUKUS program to have public support. 

Asked what would happen to an Australian nuclear-propelled submarine that was hit by a missile, Vice Admiral Mead said he could not reveal the technical details but that “nuclear-powered submarines are designed for exacting standards”.

He also said that submariners receive only minimal doses of radiation onboard – less than an ordinary person walking the streets of a capital city.

UK or US-designed boat, and when will we see them?

Addressing the scale of the program, Vice Admiral Mead said if Australia wanted to begin construction of new boats in Adelaide “towards the end of this decade” the government would need to quickly finalise the construction of a revamped shipyard. 

He also described the extraordinary staffing requirements of the project, requiring nuclear physicists, chemists and engineers, as well as specialist tradesmen. 

One of the biggest questions around AUKUS is whether Australia would be left without a functioning submarine force before the new boats are launched, as the ageing Collins fleet approaches retirement.

Vice Admiral Mead said unequivocally there would be no gap, but would not be drawn on the Navy’s specific plans.

The UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, recently suggested a new submarine design the three countries could share was under consideration. 

Asked whether that strategy would further delay the delivery of new submarines, Vice Admiral Mead reaffirmed there would be no gap in Australia’s capability. 

China is the motivation

Vice Admiral Mead said rapid changes in the Indo Pacific had sharpened strategic competition.

“We’ve also seen in recent years a significant modernisation in the Chinese military, particularly the Navy,” he said.

Australia’s current fleet of Collins class submarines run on diesel-electric engines that are extremely quiet when running off the battery. 

Nuclear submarines have massive range and the stealth advantage of not needing to resurface, but they do have reactor components that can’t be easily switched off to “go quiet”. 

The pros and cons of nuclear and conventional submarines have led defence analysts to suggest a new generation of diesel submarines should be considered as well, particularly to operate closer to the Australian coastline – while the nuclear boats could be prioritised for operations further away from the mainland.

But Vice Admiral Mead said the nuclear submarines would be a good option in both theatres.

“Nuclear-powered submarines provide a capability to deploy away from the home shore, or to deploy close to home shore,” he said. 

Pressed on whether conventional submarines would be quieter for closer operations, Vice Admiral Mead said under some circumstances nuclear submarines could be “just as quiet”. 

“It’s often more to do with the age and the technology of the submarine that we are dealing with,” he said.

Vice Admiral Mead said the purpose of nuclear-powered submarines was to “put the greatest question of doubt in the enemy’s mind” and “if necessary, respond with massive firepower”. 

This type of game-changing capability, he said, would change Australia’s “strategic personality”.

Push in US Congress to exempt Australia from International Traffic in Arms Regulations, so that it can import nuclear submarines

January 21, 2023

Democrat push to grant Australia a waiver to import nuclear subs earlier than expected

SMH, ByFarrah Tomazin, January 21, 2023 —

Washington: A maze of US regulations and export control laws stand between Australia and the multibillion-dollar AUKUS submarine agreement, prompting a key ally of the pact in Congress to propose a blanket exemption to accelerate delivery of the nuclear-powered fleet.

Democratic congressman Joe Courtney, who recently spearheaded a bipartisan defence of the Australia-UK-US pact amid jitters from some of his Washington colleagues, wants Australia to be given a waiver from strict US export controls that could otherwise derail the agreement.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations is one set of rules which could delay for years the transfer of crucial technologies at a time when Australia is racing to bolster its submarine capacity before the retirement of its Collins-class fleet.

Defence Minister Richard Marles has said the government will announce by March which type of submarine it will acquire, after receiving a recommendation from Jonathan Mead, the head of the Nuclear Powered Submarine Taskforce.

The announcement is expected to provide the first concrete insights into the cost, timing and procurement of the AUKUS deal. The modelling so far has suggested that if the submarines are produced in Australia, as the government has suggested, the earliest possible delivery date would be 2055.

While President Joe Biden supports AUKUS, he needs the backing of a divided Congress to make good on his promise to share American submarine secrets with Australia.

Courtney, who co-chairs the bipartisan “AUKUS caucus” and is regarded as one of Congress’ top navy experts, said a potential solution to the difficulties posed by US law would be to pass an exemption, with the support of the Pentagon, allowing Australia to bypass rules such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and related nuclear submarine laws, for the strict purpose of advancing AUKUS……………………………….

Australian officials have for years been pushing their US counterparts to reform their treatment under arms regulations, and the issue was front and centre of the December Australian-US Ministerial consultations between Marles and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin…………

In response to questions from this masthead, a spokesman for the Australian Department of Defence said it was anticipating that export arrangements would need to change “to ensure technology and expertise could be transferred seamlessly and effectively among AUKUS partners, as well as their respective industrial bases, within a suitably designed protective framework”…………

At a seminar last week, Democratic congressman Adam Smith, a ranking member of the House of Representatives armed services committee, also warned that while AUKUS was “a great idea, with a lot of promise” it “could also go bloop” unless some regulatory restrictions were eased.

And Mark Watson, the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Washington office, suggested that “an AUKUS express lane is what we need” to avoid delaying or derailing the project due to the maze of red tape and complex US laws surrounding it.

But the regulatory hurdles are not the only difficulty the alliance faces.

One of the concessions Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy made this month to secure the speakership of the House of Representatives was a vote on a framework that caps discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels. Some fear that this could result in the US defence budget being cut in real terms, which Courtney warned “could have a very negative effect on AUKUS”.

Helping Australia acquire nuclear submarines will also test America’s submarine manufacturing industry, which has already been strained by the COVID pandemic.

Nuclear submarines deal an exercise in futility and should be sunk

January 19, 2023

This decision – conceived in secrecy, born in controversy, and destined to become the hallmark of futility – will damage Australia for generations to come. David Livingstone Former diplomat 18 Jan 23,

The decision for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines has taken on a life of its own, divorced from disciplined considerations such as cost, effectiveness, and alternatives. At best, the decision is ill-considered. At worst, it’s Treasury-busting lunacy.

Former head of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Peter Jennings has claimed that Australia’s purchase of the subs – eight in total at an estimated cost of an additional $20 billion per year, out to about 2050 – is necessary to “deter” China. That’s a big call in a number of ways.

In particular, what would the submarines deter China from doing? Is it to deter China from attacking Australia? There is no evidence that China even dreams of such a misadventure.

Australia is thousands of kilometres from China, and its approaches are characterised by maritime choke points and potential killing zones. That’s thousands of kilometres where its forces would be exposed to attack; thousands of kilometres of stretched supply lines requiring enormous and sophisticated logistics.

We have seen Russia’s logistical challenges in conducting a land war just across its border, logistical failures have been a key reason for Russia’s military underachievement. The challenge for China in attacking Australia would dwarf anything Russia has experienced in Ukraine.

China would clearly fail in any attempt at a meaningful maritime assault on Australia. And that outcome is within Australia’s existing military capabilities, including the conventionally powered Collins class submarines. With the acquisition of advanced missiles and drones, Australia will be even more secure.

So, what are nuclear-powered submarines supposed to deter China from doing? The answer, apparently, is to prevent China from attacking Taiwan.

But where in the universe of rational thought is Australia’s acquisition of fewer than 10 submarines over the next two or three decades meaningful in China’s equation about attacking Taiwan? By even generous estimates, the first boats are years away. The full complement of eight could be several decades away. And then what is the actual impact of the new additions to the fleet?

Operationally, you can expect that only one-third of the nuclear-powered submarines would be actively deployed at one time. That is likely to be about three submarines, somewhere closer to the turn of the mid-century than today. Is that really the defining regional capability that will keep China in check?

To think it might be is to cringe at the folly of the idea. To say it out loud is to invite ridicule.

Has Australia suddenly and mistakenly taken on the mantle of the “indispensable country”? Does Taiwan’s future hang on Australia’s purchase of a few eye-wateringly expensive submarines?

The balance of submarines that Australia’s acquisition is claimed to upend so dramatically as to “deter” China includes: China, up to 79 submarines; the US, 68 submarines; Japan, about 20 (and growing); and South Korea, about 20. And that does not include Taiwan’s submarines, or those of the self-proclaimed Indo-Pacific power, the UK. That is well over 100 for Australia’s friends, and they are generally of better quality than the Chinese subs.

Moreover, the US and Japan are taking significant and meaningful steps to increase their capacity to defend Taiwan. Foremost among them is the restructuring of US Marines to counter a Chinese maritime threat, and deploying to islands close to Taiwan.

And Japan, long constrained by its non-aggression constitution, will double its defence spending over the next five years. That is a massive increase for a country that already has one of the largest and best equipped maritime forces in the world.

If this brief review of some of the characteristics of the military balance affecting China’s calculations about attacking Taiwan indicates that Australia’s purchase of nuclear-powered submarines is insignificant, it is because that is precisely what it is. Militarily meaningless. Now and into the future.

It is Australia’s version of Don Quixote jousting with windmill sails.

But this folly would come at a ridiculous cost. Projections of $170 billion are likely well off the mark, with the potential for double that cost.

The opportunity cost foregone would include the acquisition of more meaningful defence capabilities, including smart sea mines that lie undetected in strategic approaches, only activating in times of conflict and only targeting enemy vessels; off-the-shelf conventional submarines; long-range missiles and rockets; more fighter aircraft to dominate the sea-air gap between Australia and Indonesia; aerial and maritime drones.

And with the amount saved there would be money to retire national debt, build and adequately equip and staff schools and hospitals, and rebuild Australia’s failing national transport infrastructure. Greater national security would be achieved through investing in a better Australia than in throwing vast amounts of national wealth at the chimera of security through acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.

But there is one aspect on which both proponents and opponents of the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines agree. The purchase will deeply integrate Australia’s Defence Force with the US to the point where Australia’s participation in a conflict between the US and China would be automatic.

The only difference is that the proponents cite it as a benefit to be celebrated, while opponents rail against the derogation of one of the most important elements of Australia’s national sovereignty – the decision to commit Australia to war.

This decision – conceived in secrecy, born in controversy, and destined to become the hallmark of futility – will damage Australia for generations to come.

Australia a”pot of gold” for America’s military section to wage war in space

December 3, 2022

US Space Force eyes ‘prime’ Australian real estate for future warfare operations, ABC News, By defence correspondent Andrew Greene 3 Dec 22

Visiting senior US military officers believe Australia is a “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”, as they eye off this continent’s “prime” geography for future space operations.

Key points:

  • US military officials visiting Australia say conflict in space in the next few years is a very real prospect
  • They believe the war in Ukraine is demonstrating the growing importance of space as a new war-fighting domain
  • Australia’s southern location and potential launch sites near the equator make it an attractive prospect for future operations

Top-ranking members of the US Space Force are warning of China’s growing capability in the emerging military domain as they meet defence counterparts and local industry representatives.

“I’m visiting my allies and we’re talking about future partnerships that we can have,” US Space Force Lieutenant-General Nina Armagno told reporters in Canberra.

“This is prime country for space domain awareness,” the director of staff of the US Space Force added while speaking at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.  

The three-star general has travelled to Canberra along with Lieutenant-General John Shaw, the deputy commander of the US Space Command who is responsible for America’s combat capabilities above Earth……………………………..

Both of the visiting military officers believe the war in Ukraine is demonstrating the growing importance of space as a new war-fighting domain…………………………..

Australia’s own Defence Space Command was only formally stood up in March, but General Armagno says this country already has the natural advantage of its southern-hemisphere geography and potential launch sites close to the equator.

“It seems as [if] Australia is sitting on a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, really, for our common national security interests,” she said.

‘Target Oz’: Defence Strategic Review must address nuclear risks

November 3, 2022

Pine Gap near Alice Springs, RAAF Base Tindal for US B-52’s near Katherine, Darwin Harbour, North-West Cape near Exmouth, and the Stirling submarine base near Fremantle are all potential targets for a strike by China in a conflict with the US over Taiwan or the South China Sea

Pearls and Irritations, By David Noonan, Nov 3, 2022

The Defence Strategic Review must act in accordance with Australia’s commitment to sign the UN “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” (the ‘Ban Treaty’) and not seek to compromise that path by supporting roles in nuclear warfare alongside the US.

Anthony Albanese made a commitment in his “Changing the World” Speech (ALP National Conference, 18 Dec 2018), stating:

“We have on our side the overwhelming support of the Australian people. …

Our commitment to sign and ratify the nuclear weapons ban treaty in government is Labor at our best”

The ALP National Platform (2021, p.117) commits “to sign and ratify the Ban Treaty” and Australia must do so in this term of the ALP in federal office.

The Ban Treaty Article 1 Prohibitions require nations to never under any circumstance use or threaten to use nuclear weaponsOR to assist or encourage, in any way, anyone to do so.

To come into compliance with the Ban Treaty, the Defence Review must evolve our Alliance with the US to put an end to defence reliance on US ‘nuclear deterrence’.

The US ‘nuclear weapons umbrella’ is a threat to use nuclear weapons in Australia’s defence policy – a threat that has long been contrary to International Humanitarian Law and is now illegal since the Ban Treaty came into force as a permanent part of International Law from 22 January 2021.

The roles of Pine Gap and the North-West Cape communications base must evolve to exclude military operations related to the use, or threat to use, nuclear weapons.

The ICAN Report “Choosing Humanity” (July 2019) best sets out the case for Australia to sign the Ban Treaty. Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong should now refer the Ban Treaty to an Inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties as a proposed treaty action.

 Australians have a right to know the risk exposure we face in peace time and in war:

While preparing for war, a second lead task for the Defence Review is to provide transparency on the consequences for Australia as a target in an escalating conflict between the US and China.

The Review must report on the scenarios, risks, and consequences of a nuclear or conventional attack by China on bases in Australia and on the potential resultant health calamity.

Both China and Russia’s priority and capacity to attack US bases in Australia has long been recognised. An ASPI Report (Sept 2022) states Pine Gap is a high-level nuclear target, noting:

“We need to understand what the implications would be for Alice Springs, which is a town of 32,000 people only 18 kilometres from the base.”

The lead author of the report, Paul Dibb has stated: “The risk of nuclear war is now higher than at any time since the Cold War. … Australia should not feel its geographic distance from the epicentre of conflict affords it any significant protection. … We need to plan on the basis that Pine Gap continues to be a nuclear target, If China attacks Taiwan, Pine Gap is likely to be heavily involved.”

A Lowy paper (09 August 2021) also cites Darwin as a potential target in a US-China conflict:

The arena of hostilities for any such conflict would be mostly confined to East Asia, with the possible exception of strikes against US forces using Darwin as a rear-area staging base.

No doubt Australia acquiring nuclear powered attack submarines and visits or basing US or UK nuclear subs at Stirling naval base near Fremantle escalates the risk profile we face.

Beijing’s Global Times “China needs to make a plan to deter extreme forces of Australia” (07 May 2021) threatened “retaliatory punishment” with missile strikes “on the military facilities and relevant key facilities on Australian soil” if Australia coordinates with the US in a war over Taiwan:

“China has a strong production capability, including producing additional long-range missiles with conventional warheads that target military objectives in Australia when the situation becomes highly tense.”

Pine Gap near Alice Springs, RAAF Base Tindal for US B-52’s near Katherine, Darwin Harbour, North-West Cape near Exmouth, and the Stirling submarine base near Fremantle are all potential targets for a strike by China in a conflict with the US over Taiwan or the South China Sea……………………more

David Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St., is an Independent Environment Campaigner and was a long-term campaigner for Australian Conservation Foundation.

See the public submission to the Defence Review by David Noonan (29 Oct 2022).

Australia changes policy tack – moves in the direction of supporting the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

October 29, 2022

Australia drops opposition to treaty banning nuclear weapons at UN vote

After former Coalition government repeatedly sided with US against it, Labor has shifted position to abstain Hurst, 29 Oct 22,

Australia has dropped its opposition to a landmark treaty banning nuclear weapons in a vote at the United Nations in New York on Saturday.

While Australia was yet to actually join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the shift in its voting position to “abstain” after five years of “no” is seen by campaigners as a sign of progress given the former Coalition government repeatedly sided with the United States against it.

The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, said through a spokesperson that Australia had “a long and proud commitment to the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime” and that the government supported the new treaty’s “ambition of a world without nuclear weapons”.

The previous Coalition government was firmly against the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a relatively new international agreement that imposes a blanket ban on developing, testing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons – or helping other countries to carry out such activities.

Australia voted against opening negotiations on the proposed new treaty in late 2016 and did not participate in those talks in 2017. Since 2018 it has voted against annual resolutions at the UN general assembly and first committee that called on all countries to join the agreement “at the earliest possible date”.

That changed early on Saturday morning when Australia shifted its voting position to abstain. Indonesia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Ireland were among countries to co-sponsor this year’s supportive UN resolution.

Australia traditionally argued the treaty would not work because none of the nuclear weapons states had joined and because it “ignores the realities of the global security environment”.

It also argued joining would breach the US alliance obligations, with Australia relying on American nuclear forces to deter any nuclear attack on Australia.

 But the treaty has gained momentum because of increasing dissatisfaction among activists and non-nuclear states about the outlook for disarmament, given that nuclear weapons states such as the US, Russia and China are in the process of modernising their arsenals.

The treaty currently has 91 signatories, 68 of which have formally ratified it, and it entered into force last year.

The Nobel peace prize-winning International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (Ican) had been urging Australia to vote in favour of the UN resolution on Saturday – or at least abstain in order to “end five years of opposition to the TPNW under the previous government”.

Three in four members of the Labor caucus – including Anthony Albanese – have signed an Ican pledge that commits parliamentarians “to work for the signature and ratification of this landmark treaty by our respective countries”.

Labor’s 2021 national platform committed the party to signing and ratifying the treaty “after taking account” of several factors, including the need for an effective verification and enforcement architecture and work to achieve universal support.

These conditions suggest the barriers to actually signing may still be high. But Gem Romuld, the Australia director of Ican, said the government was “heading in the right direction” and engaging positively with the treaty.

Romuld said it “would be completely self-defeating to wait for all nuclear-armed states to get on board” before Australia joined.

“Indeed, no disarmament treaty has achieved universal support and Australia has joined all the other disarmament treaties, even where our ally – the US – has not yet signed on, such as the landmine ban treaty,” Romuld said.

In 2017 the US, the UK and France declared that they “do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party” to the new treaty, and the Trump administration actively lobbied countries to withdraw.

Wong told the UN general assembly last month that Australia would “redouble our efforts” towards disarmament because Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “weak and desperate nuclear threats underline the danger that nuclear weapons pose to us all”.