Presentation on theme: "Australia and nuclear weapons Richard Tanter Nautilus Institute and University of Melbourne Red Cross, Alice Springs, 10 October 2013"— Presentation transcript:
Australia and nuclear weapons Richard Tanter Nautilus Institute and University of Melbourne Red Cross, Alice Springs, 10 October 2013 Australia and nuclear weapons Richard Tanter Nautilus Institute and University of Melbourne Red Cross, Alice Springs, 10 October 2013
Outline 1.The nature of nuclear weapons 2.Nuclear weapons in Australia in the past 3.Australia and nuclear weapons today Extended nuclear deterrence Australia and nuclear war planning Australia as nuclear target 4.Australia and the abolition of nuclear weapons
1. The nature of nuclear weapons
“ A typical nuclear explosion… (according to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs.) produces energy which, weight for weight, is millions of times more powerful than that produced by a conventional explosion instantaneously produces a very large and very hot nuclear fireball; instantaneously generates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that can destroy or disrupt electronic equipment; transmits a large percentage of energy in the form of heat and light within a few seconds that can produce burns and ignite fires at great distances; emits, within the first minute, highly penetrating prompt nuclear radiation that can be harmful to life and damaging to electronic equipment; creates, if it occurs in the lower atmosphere, an air blast wave that can cause casualties and damage at significant distances; creates, if it is a surface or near-surface burst, a shock wave that can destroy underground structures; emits residual nuclear radiation over an extended period of time; and can provide extended interference with communications signals.” Source: “Appendix F: The effects of nuclear weapons”, Nuclear Matters Handbook (expanded edition, 2011), pp , at
9 August 1945 US detonated a 21 kiloton plutonium implosion bomb over Nagasaki Deaths - 73,884 Injuries - 74,909 Deaths by end of , square km levelled
Survivors Increased cancer risk persisting in 2011 Increased rates of cancer and chronic disease continue throughout life
Nuclear numbers WW II explosives: 3 Mt Explosives in all wars >10 Mt Largest nuclear test explosion 50 Mt, Novya Semlya, 30 October 1961 Peak nuclear arsenal 1986 –15,000 Mt – 70,000 weapons Current arsenal end-2012 –http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/nukestatus. html –~2,000 Mt –17,300 weapons, 4,300 operational, –1,800 Russia/US high alert Largest deployed warhead on Chinese DF-5A land-based missiles, up to 5 Mt
World nuclear forces, January 2013, (SIPRI) Source: Nuclear forces development, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
Reaching Critical Will, February 2013 Part 1: Health Part 2: Environment and agriculture Part 3: Economy and development Part 4: Law and order Part 5: Case studies Part 6: Conclusion - Preventing the unacceptable
No possible medical response … Sources: Tilman A, Ruff, "Impact on health", Unspeakable suffering – the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons on health, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, 2012, p. 24, drawing on B.R.Buddemeier, J.E.Valentine, K.K.Millage and L.D.Brandt, National Capital Region Key Response Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism (2011), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, US Department of Energy (Contract No.: LLNL-TR ); and A.L.DiCarlo, C.Maher, J.L.Hick, D.Hanfling, N.Dainiak, N.Chao, J.L.Bader, C.N.Coleman and D.M.Weinstock, Radiation Injury after a Nuclear Detonation:Medical Consequences and the Need for Scarce Resources Allocation (2011), Disaster Med Public Health Prep 5, Suppl 1, pp
There is no adequate international capacity to respond to a nuclear disaster “The evident lack of an international capacity to help such victims underscores the inescapable fact that to prevent the use of nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical weapons is an absolute imperative.” Loye, Coupland. Int Rev Red Cross 2007:89(866):329
2. A glance at the history of nuclear weapons in Australia Mining uranium British nuclear tests The quest for an Australian nuclear weapon “We are not New Zealand”: nuclear-armed ship visits in the 1980s
British major nuclear tests in Australia CodenameLocationDateYield HurricaneMonte Bello (off Trimouille Is) 3 October kt Totem 1Emu Field15 October kt Totem 2Emu Field27 October kt Mosaic G1Monte Bello (off Trimouille Is) 16 May kt Mosaic G2Monte Bello (off Alpha Is) 19 June kt (actual yield 98 kt) One TreeMaralinga27 Sept kt MarcooMaralinga4 October kt KiteMaralinga11 October kt BreakawayMaralinga22 October kt TadjeMaralinga14 Sept kt BiakMaralinga25 Sept kt TaranakiMaralinga9 October kt
Yalata and Oak Communities with Christobel Mattingley, Maralinga: The Anangu Story, Verbatim - Yami Lester, Radio National 10 January au/rn/verbatim/sto ries/2011/ htm Yami: The Autobiography of Yami Lester, (Alice Springs, Jukurrpa Books, 2000
It was early in the morning, might be around about seven. Explosion, big one. We feel the ground shook and we heard the bang and another smaller bang. A lot of little ones between the big ones," says Yami Lester. Yami Lester was only 12 years old when the first atomic tests to happen on the Australian mainland occurred at Emu Field in northern South Australia on the 15th of October, [Youtube link]Youtube link Verbatim - Yami Lester, Radio National 10 January m/stories/2011/ htm Yami: The Autobiography of Yami Lester, (Alice Springs, Jukurrpa Books), 2000
The American veto of Australian nuclear weapons - Secretary of State Dean Rusk: “I opened up all stops.” In my talk with Prime Minister Gorton I ran into a full battery of reservations about the Non-Proliferation Treaty...Gorton is deeply concerned about giving up the nuclear option for a period as long as twenty-five years when he cannot know how the situation will develop in the area. He sounded almost like De Gaulle in saying that Australia could not rely upon the United States for nuclear weapons under ANZUS in the event of nuclear blackmail or attack on Australia. I opened up all stops. One of the things which s getting in the way is objections coming out of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and Defense on all sorts of picayune problems on which we have been able to satisfy the Germans and others. Secretary of State, U.S. Embassy Canberra cable 4842 to Department of State, 6 April 1968 Source: “Australia's Prime Minister Wanted ‘Nuclear Option’", 40th Anniversary of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, National Security Archive, 1 July Document 16A.
But the policy continued until 1972: Strategic Basis of Australian Defence Policy , Department of Defence (cabinet paper) 192. Finally there is, in our opinion, no present strategic need for Australia to develop or acquire nuclear weapons; but the implications of China’s growing nuclear military capacity, and of the growth of military technology in Japan and India, need continuous review. We consider that the opportunities for decision open to the Australian Government in future would be enlarged if the lead time for the acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability could be shortened. We recommend regard to this, without undue claims upon resources, in the future development of Australia’s nuclear capacity for peaceful purposes, in the Defence research and development programme, and in other relevant ways.
3. Australia and extended nuclear deterrence: absurd, obscene and dangerous “As long as nuclear weapons exist, we rely on the nuclear forces of the United States to deter nuclear attack on Australia. Australia is confident in the continuing viability of extended nuclear deterrence under the Alliance, while strongly supporting ongoing efforts towards global nuclear disarmament.” 2013 Defence White Paper, para 3.41
The Australian model of extended nuclear deterrence lack of public presence and awareness a lack of certainty about its standing and character in American eyes offshore location of potential deterrent force lack of an identifiable direct nuclear threat hosting of United States targeting-related intelligence facilities justified as Australian contribution to maintenance of global nuclear stability concomitant government secret acceptance of certain targetting of those facilities in the event of nuclear war
Evaluating claims for the need for nuclear defence or nuclear deterrence for Australia what are the actual threats to Australia against which extended nuclear deterrence is invoked? what are the probabilities attached to such threats? where threats are deemed to be actionable with nuclear response, what alternative responses or means of addressing the issue exist or could be generated? No government has addressed these questions in a systematic and open manner. Question: why are Australians so accepting of their government’s 50-year history of commitment to defence by nuclear weapons?
Pine Gap functions today Two systems, primary and secondary –two separate space-based intelligence systems downlinked through Pine Gap Primary systems: signals intelligence (SIGINT) One of three primary control and command stations Advanced Orion satellites detecting radio transmissions Massive downlink of intercepted data, then processed Processed data used in Iraq, Afghanistan, and counter-terrorism operations (incl. drone killings), as well as strategic planning Secondary system: Missile launch detection by infra-red imagery Remote Ground Station Defence Support Program (DSP) legacy satellites successor SBIRS [Space-Based Infra-Red Satellite] systems information facilitates US second strike targetting Missile defence system cueing role
Pine Gap aerial - Here-com mid-late 2012
Pine Gap from Mt Gillen, January 2013 Pine Gap Defence Base, as viewed from Mount Gillen, Alice Springs, Mark Marathon, 22 September 2013, at
Pine Gap - from the east (AFP) Source:http://www.lawsofpakistan.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/pine-gap-top-secret-us-australian-base.jpg
DSP and SBIRS Remote Ground Station Note two new small radomes Main DSP/SBIRS radomes
Pine Gap, signals intelligence and drone assassinations
A US Air Force Predator on patrol Source: (US Air Force Photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt).
CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004–2013 Total US strikes: 371 Obama strikes: 320 Total reported killed: 2,505-3,584 Civilians reported killed: Children reported killed: Total reported injured: 1,111-1,493 Source: Bureau of Investigative Journalism, July 2013 Update: US covert actions in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia
US Covert Action in Yemen 2002–2013 Confirmed US drone strikes: Total reported killed: Civilians reported killed: Children reported killed: 5 Reported injured: Possible extra US drone strikes: Total reported killed: Civilians reported killed: Children reported killed: 6-9 Reported injured: Source: Bureau of Investigative Journalism, July 2013 Update: US covert actions in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia m/
Minimum number confirmed killed by drones in Yemen (to 14/8/2013
Australian nukes on the agenda again? Lowy Institute Poll May 2010 attitudes to Australian nuclear weapons development Source: Lowy Institute Poll May 2010, Figure 19: Nuclear weapons in Australia, p. 13 A)Now a question about nuclear weapons. Are you personally in favour or against Australia developing nuclear weapons? B)If some of Australia’s near neighbours were to begin to develop nuclear weapons, would you then be personally in favour or against Australia also developing nuclear weapons?
Nuclear target Australia?
Map Delamere Bradshaw Pine Gap Kojarena North West Cape
The alliance bargain - US bases as the price of “nuclear protection” Part 1: Australian security depends on US maintenance of a stable world nuclear order. Part 2: “We accepted that the joint facilities were probably targets, but we accepted the risk of that for what we saw as the benefits of global stability.” –Kim Beazley, presentation to Seminar on the ANZUS alliance, Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Parliament of Australia, 11 August “We judged, for example, that the SS-11 ICBM site at Svobodny in Siberia was capable of inflicting one million instant deaths and 750,000 radiation deaths on Sydney. And you would not have wanted to live in Alice Springs, Woomera or Exmouth -- or even Adelaide.” –Paul Dibb, former deputy Secretary for Defence, “America has always kept us in the loop”, The Australian, 10 September 2005.
Joint intelligence facilities as “the strategic essence” (Desmond Ball) Pine Gap (and previously, Nurrungar and Northwest Cape) = core utility of Australia for United States Despite the risks, hosting the intelligence facilities is usually justified by three rationales for the Australia-US alliance for Australian governments: –Australia derives crucial intelligence from joint facilities –Australia gets access to higher levels of US military equipment (unlike non-UKUSA partners) –Australia gets a seat at the highest strategic discussions in Washington
Strategic considerations: why Pine Gap is still a high priority target in the event of major conflict US-Russia –recessed deterrence US-China relations –cooperation or conflict? –“power transition” theory and its devotees –unbalanced deterrence = unstable deterrence? –US/Japan missile defence and the erosion of Chinese nuclear deterrence capacity –China, the US ‘pivot’ strategy, and Australia: why would China care about Pine Gap: US nuclear targetting of Chinese ICBMs US/Japanese missile defence “blinding” US space assets
Chinese nuclear forces, 2011 Source: Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Chinese nuclear forces 2011”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, : 81
Range of Chinese conventional missiles: at present cannot reach Pine Gap Source: Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2011, Department of Defense
Ranges of Chinese nuclear missiles (2007) Source: "Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2007”, United States Department of Defense at Most likely missile to be used on Pine Gap: Older, less accurate: DF-4, DF-5, DF-5A (CEP = 1,500 m. and 1,000 m. respectively CEP: circular error probable: the radius of the area within which 50% of missiles will fall
Ranges of Chinese nuclear missiles (2011) Source: Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2011, Department of Defense
We’ve been here before: Peter Tait booklet, Medical Association for the Prevention of War (N.T.) and Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (N.T.), April 1985 Author: Peter Tait
Source: Peter Tait, Effects of a 1 Mt airburst over Pine Gap (April 1985), drawing on Desmond Ball, “Limiting nuclear attacks”, in D. Ball and J.O.Langtry, (eds. ) Civil defence and Australia’s Security in the Nuclear Age, 1984 Source: Peter Tait, What will happen in Alice if the Bomb goes off? (April 1985), drawing on Desmond Ball, “Limiting nuclear attacks”, in D. Ball and J.O.Langtry, (eds. ) Civil defence and Australia’s Security in the Nuclear Age, 1984
What has changed in this picture since 1985? Pine Gap still a high priority target missile size probably still of the same order of magnitude, but possibility of smaller missiles - but more destructive Growth of Alice Springs west and south in 1985 simultaneous attacks on Nurrungar and North West Cape were highly likely: Nurrungar gone, absorbed into PG as remote ground station North West Cape becoming important (how much?) for US space surveillance and anti-sattelite warfare
What now for Australia? Building resources for an informed democratic debate about security and defence Understanding Australian interests vs. US interests What are the consequences of our current and projected force structure and basing arrangements? Thinking deeply about China and making genuinely realistic assessments about China What actual security threats does Australia face? What intelligence and military force structure does Australia need for actual threats? What are the alternatives, and what are the consequences for the bases?
Malcolm Fraser on nuclear weapons “Nuclear weapons today are not relevant to the United States, they are not relevant to the defence of any country” We must end nuclear weapons for all time. Malcolm Fraser 23 April 2007
4. Australia and the abolition of nuclear weapons Australian national interests? the human interest? the foundations of genuine security? Why has the Australian government shown such hostility to the Red Cross initiative on the humanitarian effects of nuclear war? Evidence-based policy? Priority: delegitimating deterrence.
Richard Tanter: Australian Defence Facilities: abroad/defence-facilities/ Extended nuclear deterrence “Absurd, obscene and reckless - American nuclear weapons in the defence of Australia“, Dissent (Australia), no. 42, Spring tanter/publications/ Pine Gap: The “Joint Facilities” revisited – Desmond Ball, democratic debate on security, and the human interest, Special Report, Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, 12 December 2012: Facilities_-revisited December pdf
“The nuclear bomb is the most anti-democratic, anti-human, outright evil thing that man has ever made. If you are religious, then remember that this bomb is man’s challenge to God. It’s worded quite simply: We have the power to destroy everything that you have created. If you are not religious, then look at it this way. This world of ours is four thousand, six hundred million years old. It could end in an afternoon.” Arundhati Roy