Archive for the ‘1 NUCLEAR ISSUES’ Category

How the military-industrial complex has captured Australia’s top strategic advisory body

December 26, 2021

AUSTRALIA CAPTUREDHow the military-industrial complex has captured Australia’s top strategic advisory body, MICHELLE FAHY, DECLASSIFIED AUSTRALIA 9 DECEMBER 2021

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has veered away from its founding vision of providing an array of independent diverse views, to now promote an aggressive militaristic solution to the heightened tensions in Australia’s region.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra is the government’s primary source of outside-government advice, research and analysis on military and strategic affairs. Since its establishment in mid-2001, it has veered away from its founding vision.

There is a jarring disconnect between the lofty goals of independence expressed in ASPI’s charter, and the infiltration of ASPI by tentacles of the military-industrial complex. This has been barely mentioned in Australia’s mainstream media.

Declassified Australia investigation has uncovered a casebook example of ‘state-capture’, with the development of deep connections between ASPI, and the world’s largest and most powerful military weapons manufacturers.

Australia is a significant participant in the global arms trade at present. Its $270-billion decade-long spending spree upgrading weapons and war machines is large by international standards, and Australia is increasingly becoming an arms seller too. As Australia moves militarily ever closer to the US, even defence insiders say the defence industry is ‘awash with money’.

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen have made the world’s biggest weapons manufacturers richer, larger, and more influential. At the lesser-known end of the spectrum, the Yemen war is notable for its extensive human rights abuses and war crimes: it has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Despite pleas from the UN, the arms still flow and the war continues. The weaponry for this war has been supplied by the world’s top arms manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Boeing, and missile-maker Raytheon.

ASPI and the Weapons Lobby

The Australian subsidiaries of these and other global weapon-makers have been regular ASPI sponsors for years. Some of them have successfully used the back door to gain access to ASPI’s top table, its governing council. ASPI council members have included former senior military officers, defence ministers, and federal MPs who are also on arms and cyber company boards. It has also included former and current arms industry executives. The challenge to ASPI’s independence is large and real.

ASPI’s founding charter, since it was established in 2001 by then prime minister John Howard with bipartisan support from Labor leader Kim Beazley, declares it must ‘operate independently of Government and of the Defence Organisation’.

Further, it states that ‘the perception, as well as the reality, of that independence would need to be carefully maintained’. Thus, from the outset, the government was acknowledging how such an important think tank would be vulnerable to capture by vested interests, both ideological and commercial………..

Our investigation shows that the ASPI council has numerous members who represent or have close links to the military-industrial complex. Of the 11 non-executive directors on ASPI’s governing council, five sit on the boards or advisory boards of weapons or cybersecurity corporations, while numerous past council members have had similar connections.

The current council includes former Howard defence minister Robert Hill. He’s on the supervisory board of German weapon-maker Rheinmetall’s Australian subsidiary, which is supplying Defence’s $5 billion of Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles, and will soon also produce and export ammunition for the US Joint Strike Fighter program. Hill is also chair of Viva Energy Group, a major supplier of fuel to the Australian Defence Force (ADF)…………………….

Declassified Australia put questions to ASPI and the current council members. Dr Nelson declined to comment. No other council member responded by deadline. ASPI replied saying it manages conflict of interest matters in line with other Australian proprietary limited companies, and that ‘Council members will recuse themselves from discussions which may give rise to the perception of a conflict of interest matter’.

ASPI has a history of council members with interests in the defence industry. Jim McDowell was chief executive of BAE Systems in Australia for a decade, and then ran BAE in Saudi Arabia, where the Saudi military has since used BAE arms in the catastrophic war in Yemen. Returning to Australia, he was engaged by Liberal defence industry minister Christopher Pyne, and Defence, on numerous sensitive defence projects while also on ASPI’s Council. BAE Systems is in the running to provide Australia’s planned nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact.

Former Labor senator Stephen Loosley’s Council membership, including seven years as chair, coincided with board roles at French arms multinational Thales Australia, manufacturer of the Austeyr, the service rifle for all the Australian military, as well as armoured vehicles, submarine sonars and munitions. The Thales group has been accused of selling weapons to the Indonesian military who are running a war in West Papua against the independence movement.

Former Labor defence minister Kim Beazley was an ASPI distinguished fellow for two years in 2016-2018. For the majority of that time he was on the board of Lockheed Martin Australia while writing regularly for ASPI, without ASPI disclosing his board position at Lockheed.

………..ASPI’s independence is drawn into question not just by its board appointees but also by some research fellows. One recent example is the former director of cyber, intelligence and security at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Rajiv Shah, who cowrote a report on collaboration within the intelligence community that was sponsored by BAE Systems. Shah is now an ASPI fellow and a consultant to government and industry. ASPI does not disclose either in the report nor in his website bio Shah’s previous employment with BAE Systems, one of the world’s top 10 arms companies. Dr Shah did not respond to questions.

Declassified Australia does not imply any illegality by any past or present ASPI council members, fellows, or staff. The issue is the deep involvement of people associated with global weapons manufacturers, and the potential for, and perception of, conflicts with ASPI’s charter of independence.

The Reshaping of ASPI

At its foundation, the ASPI Council was instructed by the government to ensure its independence. As set down by the defence minister, it is required not only to be ‘politically non-partisan’ but also, most crucially, to ‘reflect the priority given to both the perception and substance of the Institute’s independence’.

The Howard government had envisaged that ASPI would do this by maintaining a ‘very small’ permanent staff while relying mostly on short-term contracts, secondments and similar arrangements for its research work. It would not publish views in its own name but would provide a forum for the views of a wide variety of outside experts.

20 years on, ASPI has morphed into a very different organisation.

A decision by Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd to make Stephen Loosley the ASPI Council chair in 2009, while Loosley was on the Thales Australia board, tested perceptions of independence. Then, in 2012, the Gillard Labor government appointed the current executive director directly from the senior position of Deputy Secretary of Strategy in the Defence Department. In the late 90s, Peter Jennings had been chief of staff to Liberal defence minister Ian McLachlan when the Howard Government first mooted the idea of creating ASPI.

Under this new leadership, ASPI set about expanding. Staff numbers have quadrupled in nine years from 14 to 60, plus there are now 29 research fellows and nine interns.

ASPI receives its core funding via a grant from the Defence Department. In 2018, the Morrison government approved a $20 million grant to cover five years’ of ASPI operations. In May 2021, this grant was increased by $5 million to cover two years of operations of a new Washington DC office.


Since 2012, ASPI has vigorously pursued additional funding. Within two years, annual income from commissioned research jumped from $37,000 to $1.1 million, and sponsorships were up 235% to $746,000. ASPI’s own-sourced revenue has continued to grow dramatically. In 2011-12, ASPI received less than $500,000 above its base funding, by 2020-21 it had exploded to $6.7 million.

The single largest source of ASPI’s funding in 2020-21, beyond its core funding, was from the US Government’s Departments of Defense and State ($1.58m), followed by additional funding from Defence ($1.44m) and other federal government agencies ($1.18m). The NSW and Northern Territory governments provided $445,000. In the private sector, the largest source was social media, tech and cybersecurity companies ($737,362), with Facebook ($269,574), Amazon ($100,000) and Microsoft ($89,500) being the largest. From the arms industry, ASPI received $316,636, with more than two-thirds of that coming from two of Australia’s largest defence contractors, Thales ($130,000) and BAE Systems ($90,000).

In 2019-20, Twitter gave ASPI $147,319 for its cyber research. Significantly, Twitter last week announced a partnership with ASPI said to be dealing with misinformation from the Chinese communist party that was seeking to counter evidence of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. As a result of ASPI’s research, thousands of “state-linked accounts” were shut down by Twitter.

While the cash from the arms industry may not appear substantial, as we have seen, the arms industry wields its major influence via its representatives finding their way on to seats at the top table.

The substantial extra funding from the US government, Defence and other Australian government departments, as well as corporate interests, provides a real challenge to ASPI’s responsibility to remain independent. It raises serious questions about undue influence, including foreign influence, at ASPI.

ASPI responded to our questions about protecting the perception of its independence by saying it retains ‘complete editorial independence on the material we choose to research’. It said it would not accept funding from parties attempting to constrain its editorial independence.

But just what does the US government get in return for its $1.57 million funding of ASPI, beyond its research projects on human rights violations, disinformation, and cybersecurity in China?

And what might BAE Systems get for its $90,000 grant to ASPI, other than a new report on the need for a ‘collaborative and agile’ intelligence community?

And what about Thales Australia, in return for its $130,000 grant to ASPI, beyond just being lead sponsor of the 2020 ASPI Conference?

The answer for them all, is ‘influence’.

ASPI’s role in advising the Australian government on defence strategy and procurements and cybersecurity would better serve the Australian people if it was to return to its original charter of researching and publishing a diversity of views from a position of uncompromised independence.

MICHELLE FAHY is an independent writer and researcher, specialising in the examination of connections between the weapons industry and government, and has written in various independent publications. She is on twitter @FahyMichelle, and on Substack at undueinfluence.substack.com   https://declassifiedaus.org/2021/12/09/australia-captured/?fbclid=IwAR0_MMo3hIrY7uDHK4d2l5M-nxdsGBFyA_6Xtim8jxjotqPkMXmFheeGNWM

Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey has misled South Australia, in greatly minimising the amount of Intermediate Level nuclear waste intended for Napandee farm site.

December 26, 2021

So on the basis of the above figures the amount of ILW contained in the big canister that Rowan mentioned is actually only 0.1 per cent by volume of the ILW intended for Napandee. (In other words the documented volume of ILW intended for Napandee is about 1000 times more than what he stated).

Andrew Williams, Fight to stop sa nuclear waste dump in South Australia, 1 Dec 21, Rowan Ramsey stated that the TN-81 canister in the Interim Waste Store at Lucas Heights is the only Intermediate Level Waste intended for Napandee. This is not correct.

The large canister that he mentioned contains reprocessed used nuclear fuel from the old decommissioned HIFAR reactor, which ARPANSA notes as having radioactivity at the higher end of the ILW range.

That means it must remain safe from people and the environment for 10,000 years according to International guidelines followed by the Australian regulator. Another load of reprocessed used nuclear fuel from the old HIFAR reactor is due back next year and is intended to end up at Napandee, in the same type of TN-81 container.

Of the waste intended for Napandee, this highly hazardous reprocessed nuclear fuel is the most radioactive. However there is a lot more intermediate level waste (ILW) than what is in these two big containers intended for Napandee. All of the reprocessed highly hazardous used nuclear fuel produced by the existing OPAL reactor over its operating life is intended for Napandee in years to come.

However during the production of radioactive isotopes (some of which are used in nuclear medicine) ILW is produced. The Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework (2018) reports total ILW at 1770 cubic metres, with 95% by volume as federal gov. wastes. It is intended to produce a further 1,960 cubic metres over the next 40 years (all intended for Napandee), most of which will be produced at Lucas Heights. (This is documented and can be checked).

All of this ILW is intended to go to Napandee for up to 100 years of above ground storage. A TN-81 container can hold up to 28 canisters, each containing 150 litres of vitrified reprocessed fuel waste. 28×150 litres = 4,200 litres = 4.2 cubic metres. So on the basis of the above figures the amount of ILW contained in the big canister that Rowan mentioned is actually only 0.1 per cent by volume of the ILW intended for Napandee. (In other words the documented volume of ILW intended for Napandee is about 1000 times more than what he stated).

New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment

December 26, 2021

The documents obtained by Tranter and provided to The Grayzone provide an unobstructed view of the Australian junior ally’s betrayal of one of its citizens to the imperial power that has hunted him for years. As Julian Assange’s rights were violated at every turn, Canberra appears to have been complicit. 

New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment https://thegrayzone.com/2021/11/17/files-australian-julian-assange-prison/ KIT KLARENBERG· NOVEMBER 17, 2021

Documents provided exclusively to The Grayzone detail Canberra’s abandonment of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, and provide shocking details of his prison suffering

Was the government of Australia aware of the US Central Intelligence Agency plot to assassinate Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and journalist arrested and now imprisoned under unrelentingly bleak, harsh conditions in the UK? 

Why have the country’s elected leaders refused to publicly advocate for one of its citizens, who has been held on dubious charges and subjected to torture by a foreign power, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer? What does Canberra know about Julian’s fate and when did it know it?

The Grayzone has obtained documents revealing that the Australian government has since day one been well-aware of Julian’s cruel treatment inside London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison, and has done little to nothing about it. It has, in fact, turned a cold shoulder to the jailed journalist despite hearing his testimony of conditions “so bad that his mind was shutting down.”

Not only has Canberra failed to effectively challenge the US and UK governments overseeing Assange’s imprisonment and prosecution; as these documents expose in stark detail, it appears to have colluded with them in the flagrant violation of an Australian citizen’s human rights, while doing its best to obscure the reality of his situation from the public. 

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The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) must be required to fully inform the Kimba community of the safety and financial risks of the nuclear dump

December 26, 2021

[importance of] the community at Kimba getting their own full and independent assessment and report on the government’s intentions for Napandee assisted by both government funding and by access to all records and information for that purposeAnother issue forThe Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)

NAPANDEE ASSESSMENT
It is the intention of ANSTO to store intermediate level nuclear waste at the proposed nuclear waste management facility at Napandee near Kimba in South Australia for an indefinite period but suggested to be 30 years

Since it is merely the storage of the intermediate level waste ANSTO is suggesting that it is not necessary to obtain any licences from ARPANSA for that purpose and consequently will not be making any application to ARPANSA in that regard

This is clearly against the concept of the enabling legislation and irrespective of this suggestion ARPANSA as the statutory regulator must insist on ANSTO having an appropriate licences for both the storage of the intermediate waste at Napandee and for the construction of the required facility for the increased storage capacity at Lucas Heights



Should there be any reluctance by ARPANSA in enforcing the licensing compliance by ANSTO then legal action will need to be taken by way of mandamus by interested parties which would be the Kimba community to make certain that the required licences will be sought by ANSTO

In order to ensure that the community position is fully protected ARPANSA should provide adequate funding either directly or by
government grant to the community to enable them to obtain proper and detailed legal advice and to undertake any appropriate actions that may be required or necessary to protect their position


This should be coupled with the community at Kimba getting their own full and independent assessment and report on the government’s intentions for Napandee assisted by both government funding and by access to all records and information for that purpose

This is an essential requirement for enabling the community at Kimba to understand and negotiate with full knowledge of the safety case required for the Napandee facility as the independent assessment will no doubt be critical of the inappropriate and unsuitable site selection and nature of the facility by way of above the ground storage

The special rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the sound management and disposal of hazardous substances including nuclear wastes and for the rights of indigenous peoples are aware of the Kimba community concerns and will monitor the situation and if necessary take appropriate action to ensure protection of their human rights


Issue for The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA): IS ANSTO’s NUCLEAR REACTOR VIABLE?

December 26, 2021

ISSUES FOR URGENT RESOLUTION BY ARPANSA
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is the national regulator of all federal government aspects of nuclear and radiation sources and activities with the prime objective of protecting and keeping safe the nation’s population and environment from the harmful effects of radiation and other nuclear pursuits.

In its regulatory role ARPANSA will shortly have to address issues linked to nuclear waste and collectively are probably the most important and significant situation that has had to be dealt with by ARPANSA since its foundation over twenty years ago

ANSTO VIABILITY
The first is the need for ARPANSA to obtain an independent andcomprehensive assessment and report on the proposed increased
production of nuclear medicine by reactor generation by the AustralianmNuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) at its Lucas Heights precinct

The reason behind this is that ANSTO is relying on its production of nuclear medicine as the mainstay of its activities and intends to become a major international producer and exporter of reactor generated nuclear medicine.

However this appears to be a misconceived and purposeless intention since nuclear medicine generated by reactor isotopes is in significant decline throughout the world due to its dangerous inherent state in being used in medical diagnosis and treatment

There is a world wide turning away by the medical profession from using reactor generated nuclear medicine because of its sever danger to patients coupled with its extremely high production costs.

More alternatives to this form of nuclear medicine are already extensively used as they are far safer and pose little risk to patients and additionally are much cheaper to produce with the involvement of major international drug companies

ARPANSA should seek the independent and expert assessment and review of the proposal and intentions by ANSTO as part of the licensing process for the increased storage facility for nuclear waste at Lucas Heights recently proposed by ANSTO

The assessment and review must include a financial examination to determine commercial and economic viability of the activities and proposals by ANSTO as this is an essential ingredient of the qualifications for the licence for the increased storage capacity

Since the suitably qualified experts for the assessment are not in Australia (as in any case this could create a conflict situation) ARPANSA will need to rely on and engage the highly qualified experts in this field available
from overseas

From the general tenor and prescriptions of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 and applicable regulations – which are referred to as the enabling legislation – it seems quite certain that the commercial and financial aspects must be included by ARPANSAin considering an application for a licence

This should be even more imperative since the funds sought by ANSTO for the increased storage capability at Lucas Heights are being provided by the federal government which is in direct and colloquial terms taxpayers’ money and it is an obligation of the government to protect public revenue and expenditure

There has never been any publicly released information by ANSTO on the financial aspects of the production and sale of its nuclear medicine but as justification for the production ANSTO has relied on the emotivearguments that in their lifetime everyone has or will have a need for nuclear medicine.

ANSTO claims that it has given to the government a recently commissioned independent study into future nuclear medicine supply in Australia and this study should be given to ARPANSA with all supporting information for assistance for its assessment and review as part of the licensing process.

Morrison’s decision on AUKUS and nuclear submarines was made with no debate in Parliament

December 26, 2021

Our PM, Scott Morrison, struts the world stage, vilifies China (some of it deserved), but in the process is locking in Australia’s subservience to US foreign policy while guaranteeing increased US troop access and US spy stations on Australian territory for the future. Add to this the crippling cost of procurement of nuclear powered subs and the possible return of Donald Trump to ‘guide’ our nation into the future.

This sabre rattling at an external enemy will allow Morrison some catch up in the polls while the ALP is wedged. The huge crime here is to make a decision without debate in the Federal Parliament.

Times change, but some things regarding the nuclear industry and international political posturing remain the same.

Local anti-nuclear activists who chose to make a difference…https://www.echo.net.au/2021/10/local-anti-nuclear-activists-who-chose-to-make-a-difference/ By Ian Cohen October 7, 2021    Following the Nuclear Disarmament Party’s close loss with front man Peter Garrett in 1984, nuclear issues were at the forefront of people’s minds. We extended our influence far beyond our Shire. The pending arrival of nuclear armed warships sent the local region into overdrive. Benny Zable from Nimbin rolled out his ‘radioactive’ barrels for street theatre. Dean Jefferys based in Brunswick Heads came with his ultralight, Hoss (Ian Hoskens) of Main Arm with his megaphone voice and me with my surfboard.

September 1986 heralded the arrival of the largest assembly of international ships in Sydney Harbour’s history. Many were nuclear armed.

Our north coast contingent was vital to the success of the protest actions. Driven by a reckless, but heartfelt, desire to impact on the nuclear arms race and send a direct message to US President Ronald Reagan and USSR’s Yuri Andropov.

The mad concept of surfing the nose of a nuclear armed warship was mine, but Sydney Morning Herald photographer, Robert Pearce, from a media barge directly in front of myself and the warship, captured the image of a vulnerable surfer hanging onto the nose of a nuclear armed destroyer that went global.

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Review of book: Long Half-life – The Nuclear Industry in Australia 

December 26, 2021

Lowe highlights that there is a neglected dimension of uranium mining — its inefficiency. Lowe notes that at Ranger it would take 400 tonnes of ore to extract one tonne of uranium yellowcake. At 125,000 tonnes of production, that’s a lot of detritus, which highlights what a giant job is the “remediation” project currently underway at Ranger.

The replacement went ahead, called an Australia’s Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) reactor, built by an Argentinian company. Work began in 2002 and it was commissioned in 2006. A condition for its approval was that the waste problem would be solved. Of course, it wasn’t. Which makes the approval and construction of the OPAL reactor unconscionable.

IA Book Club: Long Half-life – The Nuclear Industry in Australia  https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/ia-book-club-long-half-life–the-nuclear-industry-in-australia,15520#.YUbL77Fpoi8.twitter By Evan Jones | 19 September 2021 In his far-reaching review, Dr Evan Jones explores a book by Ian Lowe, which looks deep into Australia’s involvement with the nuclear industry.

Lowe has written a telling obituary for the nuclear industry in Australia, but the waste problem refuses to die.   Long Half-life: The Nuclear Industry in Australia’ is available from Booktopia for $28.35 (paperback) RRP.

PHYSICIST Ian Lowe has just published another book, Long Half-life: The Nuclear Industry in Australia. Current generations might say — what nuclear industry? They would probably know about the British nuclear bomb tests on Australian soil (buzz words Woomera and Maralinga); perhaps fragments regarding the export of uranium yellowcake.

Australia has been integrally involved with nuclear since the atom bomb — indeed, before the bomb, as Adelaide-born Marcus Oliphant was a key figure in fostering and furthering the bomb’s development.

Lowe’s book conveniently ties all the threads together. Lowe has been intimately involved in the issue for over 50 years. The book usefully outlines in simple terms for outsiders (of which myself) the technical mysteries of splitting the atom and related discoveries. The book is soberly written, with occasional displays of outrage (John Howard “crass” and Alexander Downer “bumbling and sycophantic” in playing the U.S.’ deputy sheriff) and not a little wry humour.

The immediate consequence of the bomb in Australia was the creation of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in March 1949, due to concerns of “reds under the beds”. The Cold War was on in earnest.

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Australia’s new nuclear submarines will have dangerous Highly Enriched Uranium, not the Low Enriched Uranium of the French ones.

December 26, 2021

The United States and UK operate naval reactors in their submarines that are fueled with 93.5 percent enriched uranium (civilian power plants are typically fueled with three to five percent uranium-235) in quantities sufficient to last for the lifetime of their ships (33 years for attack submarines).Having resisted domestic efforts to minimize the use of HEU and convert their naval reactors to LEU fuel, the United States and UK have no alternative fuel to offer. France, on the other hand, now runs naval reactors fueled with LEU. The new Suffren-class submarine, from which the French conventional submarine offered to Australia was derived, even runs on fuel enriched below 6 percent.

Until now, it was the US commitment to nonproliferation that relentlessly crushed or greatly limited these aspirations toward nuclear-powered submarine technology. With the new AUKUS decision, we can now expect the proliferation of very sensitive military nuclear technology in the coming years, with literally tons of new nuclear materials under loose or no international safeguards.

It is difficult to understand the internal policy process that led the Democratic Biden administration to the AUKUS submarine announcement.  It seems that just like in the old Cold War, arms racing and the search for short-term strategic advantage is now bipartisan.

The new Australia, UK, and US nuclear submarine announcement: a terrible decision for the nonproliferation regime https://thebulletin.org/2021/09/the-new-australia-uk-and-us-nuclear-submarine-announcement-a-terrible-decision-for-the-nonproliferation-regime/

By Sébastien Philippe | September 17, 2021 On September 15, US President Joe Biden, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison launched a new major strategic partnership to meet the “imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term.” Named AUKUS, the partnership was announced together with a bombshell decision: The United States and UK will transfer naval nuclear-propulsion technology to Australia. Such a decision is a fundamental policy reversal for the United States, which has in the past spared no effort to thwart the transfer of naval reactor technology by other countries, except for its World War II partner, the United Kingdom.  Even France—whose “contract of the century” to sell 12 conventional submarines to Australia was shot down by PM Morrison during the AUKUS announcement—had been repeatedly refused US naval reactor technology during the Cold War. If not reversed one way or another, the AUKUS decision could have major implications for the nonproliferation regime.


In the 1980s, the United States prevented France and the UK from selling nuclear attack submarines to Canada. The main argument centered on the danger of nuclear proliferation associated with the naval nuclear fuel cycle. Indeed, the nonproliferation treaty has a well-known loophole: non-nuclear weapon states can remove fissile materials from international control for use in non-weapon military applications, specifically to fuel nuclear submarine reactors. These reactors require a significant amount of uranium to operate. Moreover, to make them as compact as possible, most countries operate their naval reactors with nuclear-weapon-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel.

With tons of weapons-grade uranium out of international safeguards, what could go wrong?

The United States, UK, and Australia are giving themselves 18 months to hammer out the details of the arrangement. This will include figuring out what type of submarine, reactors, and uranium fuel will be required. Similarly, questions about where to base the submarines, what new infrastructure will be needed, how maintenance will be conducted, how nuclear fuel will be handled, and how crews will be trained—among many others—will need to be answered.

Australia has no civilian nuclear power infrastructure beyond a 20 megawatt-thermal research reactor and faces a rough nuclear learning curve. It will need to strengthen its nuclear safety authority so it has the capability to conduct, review, and validate safety assessments for naval reactors that are complex and difficult to commission. 

How long this new nuclear endeavor will take and how much it will cost are anyone’s guesses. But the cancelled $90 billion (Australian) “contract of the century” with France for conventionally powered attack submarines will most likely feel like a cheap bargain in retrospect. Beyond these technical details, the AUKUS partnership will also have to bend over backwards to fulfill prior international nonproliferation commitments and prevent the new precedent created by the Australian deal from proliferating out of control around the world.

The United States and UK operate naval reactors in their submarines that are fueled with 93.5 percent enriched uranium (civilian power plants are typically fueled with three to five percent uranium-235) in quantities sufficient to last for the lifetime of their ships (33 years for attack submarines).Having resisted domestic efforts to minimize the use of HEU and convert their naval reactors to LEU fuel, the United States and UK have no alternative fuel to offer. France, on the other hand, now runs naval reactors fueled with LEU. The new Suffren-class submarine, from which the French conventional submarine offered to Australia was derived, even runs on fuel enriched below 6 percent.

So Australia is likely to receive HEU technology, unless an LEU crash program is launched that could take more than a decade to complete or in a dramatic reversal, France is pulled back into a deal—two scenarios that remain unlikely at this point and at any rate do not solve all proliferation concerns. Assuming the high-enrichment route is followed, if Canberra wants to operate six to 12 nuclear submarines for about 30 years, it will need some three to six tons of HEU. It has none on hand and no domestic capacity to enrich uranium. So unless it kickstarts an enrichment program for military purposes, the material would need to come from the United States or the UK.

One can only imagine the drops of sweat trickling down the neck of the International Atomic Energy Agency leadership in Vienna when an Australian delegation comes knocking at its door bringing the good news. The agency, which is currently battling to prevent Iran from acquiring enough fissile material to build a nuclear weapon—25 kilograms (0.025 ton) of HEU according to the internationally agreed standard—will have to figure out how to monitor and account for 100 to 200 times that amount without gaining access to secret naval reactor design information.  Managing that feat while keeping its credibility intact will be difficult to pull off.

What could happen if AUKUS moves forward? France clearly feels “backstabbed” by its Anglo-Saxon allies and angered to the unimaginable point of cancelling a gala celebrating the 240th anniversary of the Revolutionary War Battle of the Capes during America’s war of independence. In response, the French could relax their position on not transferring naval reactor technology to Brazil as part of helping the country build its first nuclear attack submarine. South Korea just successfully launched a ballistic missile from a conventional submarine and recently floated the idea of starting a nuclear submarine program in response to growing nuclear threats from North Korea. Seoul could now ask the United States or other nations for an arrangement similar to Australia’s.


Russia could begin new naval reactor cooperation with China to boost China’s submarine capabilities in response to the AUKUS announcement. India and Pakistan, which already have nuclear weapons, could benefit from international transfers as well, possibly from France and China respectively. Iran, of course, has already expressed interest in enriching uranium to HEU levels to pursue a submarine program.

Until now, it was the US commitment to nonproliferation that relentlessly crushed or greatly limited these aspirations toward nuclear-powered submarine technology. With the new AUKUS decision, we can now expect the proliferation of very sensitive military nuclear technology in the coming years, with literally tons of new nuclear materials under loose or no international safeguards.

Domestic political opposition to the nuclear submarine deal is already brewing in Australia. The Green Party has announced that it will fight the deal “tooth and nail.” Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Morrison is very much struggling in the polls and could lose next year’s election—before the end of the 18-month review process announced by AUKUS. The nuclear submarine project could then be buried before it takes off, saving the international community further headaches.

But if Morrison gets re-elected and the program continues, it will be for the United Stated to take up its responsibilities as the guardian of the nonproliferation regime. Poor nuclear arms control and nonproliferation decisions—such as leaving the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and approving the US-Indian nuclear deal—have so far been a trademark of the US Republican Party. It is difficult to understand the internal policy process that led the Democratic Biden administration to the AUKUS submarine announcement.  It seems that just like in the old Cold War, arms racing and the search for short-term strategic advantage is now bipartisan.


The reasons for the USA’s persecution of Julian Assange : Glenn Greenwald spells it out

December 26, 2021

“much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely — and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do.”


Julian Assange Loses Appeal: British High Court Accepts U.S. Request to Extradite Him for Trial

Press freedom groups have warned Assange’s prosecution is a grave threat. The Biden DOJ ignored them, and today won a major victory toward permanently silencing the pioneering transparency activist.

Glenn Greenwald  11 December   In a London courtroom on Friday morning, Julian Assange suffered a devastating blow to his quest for freedom. A two-judge appellate panel of the United Kingdom’s High Court ruled that the U.S.’s request to extradite Assange to the U.S. to stand trial on espionage charges is legally valid.

As a result, that extradition request will now be sent to British Home Secretary Prita Patel, who technically must approve all extradition requests but, given the U.K. Government’s long-time subservience to the U.S. security state, is all but certain to rubber-stamp it. Assange’s representatives, including his fiancee Stella Morris, have vowed to appeal the ruling, but today’s victory for the U.S. means that Assange’s freedom, if it ever comes, is further away than ever: not months but years even under the best of circumstances…………

In response to that January victory for Assange, the Biden DOJ appealed the ruling and convinced Judge Baraitser to deny Assange bail and ordered him imprisoned pending appeal. The U.S. then offered multiple assurances that Assange would be treated “humanely” in U.S. prison once he was extradited and convicted. They guaranteed that he would not be held in the most repressive “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado — whose conditions are so repressive that it has been condemned and declared illegal by numerous human rights groups around the world — nor, vowed U.S. prosecutors, would he be subjected to the most extreme regimen of restrictions and isolation called Special Administrative Measures (“SAMs”) unless subsequent behavior by Assange justified it. American prosecutors also agreed that they would consent to any request from Assange that, once convicted, he could serve his prison term in his home country of Australia rather than the U.S. Those guarantees, ruled the High Court this morning, rendered the U.S. extradition request legal under British law.

What makes the High Court’s faith in these guarantees from the U.S. Government particularly striking is that it comes less than two months after Yahoo News reported that the CIA and other U.S. security state agencies hate Assange so much that they plotted to kidnap or even assassinate him during the time he had asylum protection from Ecuador. Despite all that, Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde announced today that “the court is satisfied that these assurances” will serve to protect Assange’s physical and mental health.

The effective detention by the U.S. and British governments of Assange is just months shy of a full decade. ……………………….. Assange has been imprisoned in the high-security Belmarsh prison, described in the BBC in 2004 as “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay.” He has thus spent close to seven years inside the embassy and two years and eight months inside Belmarsh: just five months shy of a decade with no freedom………..

……….  In May 2019,the British government  unveiled an 18-count felony indictment against him for espionage charges, based on the role he played in WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs and diplomatic cables, which revealed multiple war crimes by the U.S. and U.K. as well as rampant corruption by numerous U.S. allies throughout the world. Even though major newspapers around the world published the same documents in partnership with WikiLeaks — including The New York TimesThe GuardianEl Pais and others — the DOJ claimed that Assange went further than those newspapers by encouraging WikiLeaks’ source, Chelsea Manning, to obtain more documents and by trying to help her evade detection: something all journalists have not only the right but the duty to their sources to do.

Because the acts of Assange that serve as the basis of the U.S. indictment are acts in which investigative journalists routinely engage with their sources, press freedom and civil liberties groups throughout the West vehemently condemned the Assange indictment as one of the gravest threats to press freedoms in years. In February, following Assange’s victory in court, “a coalition of civil liberties and human rights groups urged the Biden administration to drop efforts to extradite” Assange, as The New York Times put it.

That coalition — which includes the ACLU, Amnesty International, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the Committee to Protect Journalists — warned that the Biden DOJ’s ongoing attempt to extradite and prosecute Assange is “a grave threat to press freedom,” adding that “much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely — and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do.” Kenneth Roth, Director of Human Rights Watch, told The New York Times that “most of the charges against Assange concern activities that are no different from those used by investigative journalists around the world every day.” ………………

But the Biden administration — led by officials who, during the Trump years, flamboyantly trumpeted the vital importance of press freedoms — ignored those pleas from this coalition of groups and instead aggressively pressed ahead with the prosecution of Assange. The Obama DOJ had spent years trying to concoct charges against Assange using a Grand Jury investigation, but ultimately concluded back in 2013 that prosecuting him would pose too great a threat to press freedom. But the Biden administration appears to have no such qualms, and The New York Times made clear exactly why they are so eager to see Assange in prison:

Democrats like the new Biden team are no fan of Mr. Assange, whose publication in 2016 of Democratic emails stolen by Russia aided Donald J. Trump’s narrow victory over Hillary Clinton.

In other words, the Biden administration is eager to see Assange punished and silenced for life not out of any national security concerns but instead due to a thirst for vengeance over the role he played in publishing documents during the 2016 election that reflected poorly on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Those documents published by WikiLeaks revealed widespread corruption at the DNC, specifically revealing how they cheated in order to help Clinton stave off a surprisingly robust primary challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). WikiLeaks’ reporting led to the resignation of the top five DNC officials, including its then-Chair, Rep. Debbie Wassserman Schultz (D-FL). Democratic luminaries such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Al Gore’s 2000 campaign chair Donna Brazile both said, in the wake of WikiLeak’s reporting, that the DNC cheated to help Clinton……………………………

It is difficult at this point to avoid the conclusion that Julian Assange is not only imprisoned for the crime of journalism which exposed serious crimes and lies by the west’s most powerful security state agencies, but he is also a classic political prisoner. When the Obama DOJ was first pursuing the possibility of prosecution, media outlets and liberal advocacy groups were vocal in their opposition. One thing and only one thing has changed since then: in the interim, Assange published documents that were incriminating of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, and Democrats, as part of their long list of villains who they blamed for Clinton’s defeat (essentially everyone in the world except Clinton and the Democratic Party itself), viewed WikiLeaks’ reporting as a major factor in Trump’s victory.

That is why they and their liberal allies in corporate media harbor so much bloodlust to see Assange imprisoned. Julian Assange is a pioneer of modern journalism, a visionary who was the first to see that a major vulnerability of corrupt power centers in the digital age was mass data leaks that could expose their misconduct. Based on that prescient recognition, he created a technological and journalistic system to enable noble sources to safely blow the whistle on corrupt institutions by protecting their anonymity: a system now copied and implemented by major news organizations around the world.

Assange, over the last fifteen years, has broken more major stories and done more consequential journalism than all the corporate journalists who hate him combined. He is not being imprisoned despite his pioneering journalism and dissent from the hegemony of the U.S. security state. He is imprisoned precisely because of that. The accumulated hostility toward Assange from employees of media corporations who hate him due to professional jealousy and the belief that he undermined the Democratic Party, and from the U.S. security state apparatus which hates him for exposing its crimes and refusing to bow to its dictates, has created a climate where the Biden administration and their British servants feel perfectly comfortable imprisoning arguably the most consequential journalist of his generation even as they continue to lecture the rest of the world about the importance of press freedoms and democratic values.

No matter the outcome of further proceedings in this case, today’s ruling means that the U.S. has succeeded in ensuring that Assange remains imprisoned, hidden and silenced into the foreseeable future. If they have not yet permanently broken him, they are undoubtedly close to doing so. His own physicians and family members have warned of this repeatedly. Citizens of the U.S. and subjects of the British Crown are inculcated from birth to believe that we are blessed to live under a benevolent and freedom-protecting government, and that tyranny only resides in enemy states. Today’s judicial approval by the U.K. High Court of the U.S.’s attack on core press freedom demonstrates yet again the fundamental lie at the heart of this mythology. https://greenwald.substack.com/p/julian-assange-loses-appeal-british

Jimmy Carter hailed as ‘action’ hero for stopping nuclear meltdown at 28

December 26, 2021

Jimmy Carter hailed as ‘action’ hero for stopping nuclear meltdown at 28  https://nypost.com/2021/12/16/jimmy-carter-is-action-hero-for-stopping-nuclear-disaster/
By Hannah Sparks, December 16, 2021  Who needs action movies when there are real-life superheroes like Jimmy Carter among us?

A viral Twitter thread is reminding the world that the 39th US President James Earl Carter Jr., now 97, actually rescued Ottawa, Ontario, from nuclear destruction as a 28-year-old way back on Dec. 12, 1952.

“Do you remember the world’s very first nuclear meltdown? That time the US President, an expert in nuclear physics, heroically lowered himself into the reactor and saved Ottawa, Canada’s capital?” asked Canadian physicist University of Ottawa professor Jeff Lundeen in his now-viral thread, originally posted Tuesday but officially trending two days later.

Sounds like schlocky action movie, but it actually happened!”

Lundeen’s revelatory tweet to his modest 1,078 followers now boasts nearly 50,000 likes, more than 20,000 retweets and hundreds of cheerfully shocked comments. He included data from the Ottawa Historical Society and a snippet of a 2011 report documenting Carter’s heroics, and he followed up with several other media sources that recount the historic tale.

As the story goes, the Plains, Ga., native planned his entire life to join the Navy — and did so when he received his appointment to the Naval Academy in 1942. After graduating with distinction, Carter spent two years completing his service ship duty before signing on to the Submarine Force. Following a series of relocations and promotions, the young lieutenant would request to join Captain Hyman G. Rickover’s nuclear sub program, where they were developing the world’s first atomic subs.

Rickover then sent Carter to work for the US Atomic Energy Commission, where he served on temporary duty with the Naval Reactors Branch. Meanwhile, a few months later, an accidental power surge at Chalk River Laboratories in Ottawa caused fuel rods within a nuclear research reactor to rupture and melt — risking a full nuclear meltdown.

It was the first such incident of its kind, and Carter’s team of 23 men was ordered to clean it up.

I

n a scene straight out of modern-day blockbusters, the operation would require the brave men to descend into the core by rope and pulley so they could deconstruct the reactor bolt by bolt. The lab had set up a duplicate reactor as a training field for Carter’s team, who would get only one shot at the real thing. Each man would have to descend into the core and complete their high-flying tasks in 90-second spurts, as exposure to toxic radiation within the reactor posed a high risk to their long-term health.

Their plan went off without a hitch. The core was shut down and then rebuilt. From there, Carter went on to become the engineering officer for the USS Seawolf, one of the first submarines to operate on atomic power. By 1961, he retired from the Navy and Reserves, and, in 1963, ran for his first political office.

For those who admire the single-term Democratic president, Lundeen’s tweet was just another reminder of Carter’s selfless service — and good jokes.

One top Twitter response included a quote from the president, who visited Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island power plant in 1979, during their disastrous partial meltdown.

When asked by media if he thought it too dangerous to visit the radioactive site, he reportedly quipped, “No, if it was too dangerous they would have sent the vice president.”