Archive for the ‘politics international’ Category

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.

(more…)

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

Chris Hedges on the Execution of Julian Assange

December 25, 2021

Hedges: The Execution of Julian Assange, SCHEERPOST, By Chris Hedges 14 Dec 21, He committed empire’s greatest sin. He exposed it as a criminal enterprise. He documented its lies, callous disregard for human life, rampant corruption and innumerable war crimes. And empires always kill those who inflict deep and serious wounds.

Let us name Julian Assange’s executioners. Joe Biden. Boris Johnson. Scott Morrison. Theresa May. Lenin Moreno. Donald Trump. Barack Obama. Mike Pompeo. Hillary Clinton. Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett and Justice Timothy Victor Holroyde. Crown Prosecutors James Lewis, Clair Dobbin and Joel Smith. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg. William Burns, the director of the CIA. Ken McCallum, the Director General of the UK Security Service or MI5.

Let us acknowledge that the goal of these executioners, who discussed kidnapping and assassinating Assange, has always been his annihilation. That Assange, who is in precarious physical and psychological health and who suffered a stroke during court video proceedings on October 27, has been condemned to death should not come as a surprise. The ten years he has been detained, seven in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and nearly three in the high security Belmarsh prison, were accompanied with a lack of sunlight and exercise and unrelenting threats, pressure, anxiety and stress.  “His eyes were out of sync, his right eyelid would not close, his memory was blurry,” his fiancé Stella Morris said of the stroke. 

His steady physical and psychological deterioration has led to hallucinations and depression. He takes antidepressant medication and the antipsychotic quetiapine. He has been observed pacing his cell until he collapses, punching himself in the face and banging his head against the wall. He has spent weeks in the medical wing of Belmarsh. Prison authorities found “half of a razor blade” hidden under his socks. He has repeatedly called the suicide hotline run by the Samaritans because he thought about killing himself “hundreds of times a day.” The executioners have not yet completed their grim work. Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the Haitian independence movement, the only successful slave revolt in human history, was physically destroyed in the same manner, locked by the French in an unheated and cramped prison cell and left to die of exhaustion, malnutrition, apoplexy, pneumonia and probably tuberculosis.  

Assange committed empire’s greatest sin. He exposed it as a criminal enterprise. He documented its lies, callous disregard for human life, rampant corruption and innumerable war crimes. Republican or Democrat. Conservative or Labour. Trump or Biden. It does not matter. The goons who oversee the empire sing from the same Satanic songbook. Empires always kill those who inflict deep and serious wounds. Rome’s long persecution of the Carthaginian general Hannibal, forcing him in the end to commit suicide, and the razing of Carthage repeats itself in epic after epic. Crazy Horse. Patrice Lumumba. Malcolm X. Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Sukarno. Ngo Dinh Diem. Fred Hampton. Salvador Allende. If you cannot be bought off, if you will not be intimidated into silence, you will be killed. 

The obsessive CIA attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, which because none succeeded have a Keystone Cop incompetence to them, included contracting Momo Salvatore Giancana, Al Capone’s successor in Chicago, along with Miami mobster Santo Trafficante to kill the Cuban leader, attempting to poison Castro’s cigars with a botulinum toxin, providing Castro with a tubercle bacilli-infected scuba-diving suit, booby-trapping a conch shell on the sea floor where he often dived, slipping botulism-toxin pills in one of Castro’s drinks and using a pen outfitted with a hypodermic needle to poison him. 

The current cabal of assassins hide behind a judicial burlesque overseen in London by portly judges in gowns and white horse-hair wigs mouthing legal Alice-in-Wonderland absurdities. It is a dark reprise of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado with the Lord High Executioner drawing up lists of people “who would not be missed.”

I watched the latest installment of the Assange show trial via video link on Friday. I listened to the reading of the ruling granting the appeal by the United States to extradite Assange. Assange’s lawyers have two weeks to appeal to the Supreme Court, which they are expected to do. I am not optimistic. 

Friday’s ruling was devoid of legal analysis. It fully accepted the conclusions of the lower court judge about increased risk of suicide and inhumane prison conditions in the United States. But the ruling argued that US Diplomatic Note no. 74, given to the court on February 5, 2021, which offered “assurances” that Assange would be well treated, overrode the lower court’s conclusions. It was a remarkable legal non sequitur. The ruling would not have gotten a passing grade in a first-semester law school course. But legal erudition is not the point. The judicial railroading of Assange, which has eviscerated one legal norm after another, has turned, as Franz Kafka wrote, “lying into a universal principle.” 

The decision to grant the extradition was based on four “assurances” given to the court by the US government.  The two-judge appellate panel ruled that the “assurances” “entirely answer the concerns which caused the judge [in the lower court] to discharge Mr. Assange.” The “assurances” promise that Assange will not be subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) which keep prisoners in extreme isolation and allow the government to monitor conversations with lawyers, eviscerating attorney-client privilege; can, if the Australian his government agrees, serve out his sentence there;  will receive adequate clinical and psychological care; and, pre-trial and post trial, will not be held in the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado. 

“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the judges wrote. “There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith.”

And with these rhetorical feints the judges signed Assange’s death warrant. 

None of the “assurances” offered by Biden’s Department of Justice are worth the paper they are written on.  All come with escape clauses. None are legally binding. Should Assange do “something subsequent to the offering of these assurances that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX” he will be subject to these coercive measures. And you can be assured that any incident, no matter how trivial, will be used, if Assange is extradited, as an excuse to toss him into the mouth of the dragon. 

The decision to grant the extradition was based on four “assurances” given to the court by the US government.  The two-judge appellate panel ruled that the “assurances” “entirely answer the concerns which caused the judge [in the lower court] to discharge Mr. Assange.” The “assurances” promise that Assange will not be subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) which keep prisoners in extreme isolation and allow the government to monitor conversations with lawyers, eviscerating attorney-client privilege; can, if the Australian his government agrees, serve out his sentence there;  will receive adequate clinical and psychological care; and, pre-trial and post trial, will not be held in the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado. 

“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the judges wrote. “There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith.”

And with these rhetorical feints the judges signed Assange’s death warrant. 

None of the “assurances” offered by Biden’s Department of Justice are worth the paper they are written on.  All come with escape clauses. None are legally binding. Should Assange do “something subsequent to the offering of these assurances that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX” he will be subject to these coercive measures. And you can be assured that any incident, no matter how trivial, will be used, if Assange is extradited, as an excuse to toss him into the mouth of the dragon. 

Should Australia, which has marched in lockstep with the US in the persecution of their citizen not agree to his transfer, he will remain for the rest of his life in a US prison. But so what. If Australia does not request a transfer it “cannot be a cause for criticism of the USA, or a reason for regarding the assurances as inadequate to meet the judge’s concerns,” the ruling read. And even if that were not the case, it would take Assange ten to fifteen years to appeal his sentence up to the Supreme Court, more than enough time for the state assassins to finish him off. I am not sure how to respond to assurance number four, stating that Assange will not be held pre-trial in the ADX in Florence. No one is held pre-trail in ADX Florence. But it sounds reassuring, so I guess those in the Biden DOJ who crafted the diplomatic note added it. ADX Florence, of course, is not the only supermax prison in the United States that might house Assange. Assange can be shipped out to one of our other Guantanamo-like facilities. Daniel Hale, the former US Air Force intelligence analyst currently imprisoned for releasing top-secret documents that exposed widespread civilian casualties caused by US drone strikes, has been held at USP Marion, a federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, in a Communications Management Unit (CMU) since October. CMUs are highly restrictive units that replicate the near total isolation imposed by SAMs. 

There is no legal basis to hold Julian in prison. There is no legal basis to try him, a  a foreign national, under the Espionage Act.  The CIA spied on Assange in the Ecuador Embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers. This fact alone invalidates any future trial. Assange, who after seven years in a cramped room without sunlight in the embassy, has been held for nearly three years in a high-security prison in London so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the unrelenting abuse and torture it knows will lead to his psychological and physical disintegration.


By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

Let us name Julian Assange’s executioners. Joe Biden. Boris Johnson. Scott Morrison. Theresa May. Lenin Moreno. Donald Trump. Barack Obama. Mike Pompeo. Hillary Clinton. Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett and Justice Timothy Victor Holroyde. Crown Prosecutors James Lewis, Clair Dobbin and Joel Smith. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg. William Burns, the director of the CIA. Ken McCallum, the Director General of the UK Security Service or MI5.

Let us acknowledge that the goal of these executioners, who discussed kidnapping and assassinating Assange, has always been his annihilation. That Assange, who is in precarious physical and psychological health and who suffered a stroke during court video proceedings on October 27, has been condemned to death should not come as a surprise. The ten years he has been detained, seven in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and nearly three in the high security Belmarsh prison, were accompanied with a lack of sunlight and exercise and unrelenting threats, pressure, anxiety and stress.  “His eyes were out of sync, his right eyelid would not close, his memory was blurry,” his fiancé Stella Morris said of the stroke. 

His steady physical and psychological deterioration has led to hallucinations and depression. He takes antidepressant medication and the antipsychotic quetiapine. He has been observed pacing his cell until he collapses, punching himself in the face and banging his head against the wall. He has spent weeks in the medical wing of Belmarsh. Prison authorities found “half of a razor blade” hidden under his socks. He has repeatedly called the suicide hotline run by the Samaritans because he thought about killing himself “hundreds of times a day.” The executioners have not yet completed their grim work. Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the Haitian independence movement, the only successful slave revolt in human history, was physically destroyed in the same manner, locked by the French in an unheated and cramped prison cell and left to die of exhaustion, malnutrition, apoplexy, pneumonia and probably tuberculosis.  

Assange committed empire’s greatest sin. He exposed it as a criminal enterprise. He documented its lies, callous disregard for human life, rampant corruption and innumerable war crimes. Republican or Democrat. Conservative or Labour. Trump or Biden. It does not matter. The goons who oversee the empire sing from the same Satanic songbook. Empires always kill those who inflict deep and serious wounds. Rome’s long persecution of the Carthaginian general Hannibal, forcing him in the end to commit suicide, and the razing of Carthage repeats itself in epic after epic. Crazy Horse. Patrice Lumumba. Malcolm X. Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Sukarno. Ngo Dinh Diem. Fred Hampton. Salvador Allende. If you cannot be bought off, if you will not be intimidated into silence, you will be killed. 

The obsessive CIA attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, which because none succeeded have a Keystone Cop incompetence to them, included contracting Momo Salvatore Giancana, Al Capone’s successor in Chicago, along with Miami mobster Santo Trafficante to kill the Cuban leader, attempting to poison Castro’s cigars with a botulinum toxin, providing Castro with a tubercle bacilli-infected scuba-diving suit, booby-trapping a conch shell on the sea floor where he often dived, slipping botulism-toxin pills in one of Castro’s drinks and using a pen outfitted with a hypodermic needle to poison him. 

The current cabal of assassins hide behind a judicial burlesque overseen in London by portly judges in gowns and white horse-hair wigs mouthing legal Alice-in-Wonderland absurdities. It is a dark reprise of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado with the Lord High Executioner drawing up lists of people “who would not be missed.”

I watched the latest installment of the Assange show trial via video link on Friday. I listened to the reading of the ruling granting the appeal by the United States to extradite Assange. Assange’s lawyers have two weeks to appeal to the Supreme Court, which they are expected to do. I am not optimistic. 

Friday’s ruling was devoid of legal analysis. It fully accepted the conclusions of the lower court judge about increased risk of suicide and inhumane prison conditions in the United States. But the ruling argued that US Diplomatic Note no. 74, given to the court on February 5, 2021, which offered “assurances” that Assange would be well treated, overrode the lower court’s conclusions. It was a remarkable legal non sequitur. The ruling would not have gotten a passing grade in a first-semester law school course. But legal erudition is not the point. The judicial railroading of Assange, which has eviscerated one legal norm after another, has turned, as Franz Kafka wrote, “lying into a universal principle.” 

The decision to grant the extradition was based on four “assurances” given to the court by the US government.  The two-judge appellate panel ruled that the “assurances” “entirely answer the concerns which caused the judge [in the lower court] to discharge Mr. Assange.” The “assurances” promise that Assange will not be subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) which keep prisoners in extreme isolation and allow the government to monitor conversations with lawyers, eviscerating attorney-client privilege; can, if the Australian his government agrees, serve out his sentence there;  will receive adequate clinical and psychological care; and, pre-trial and post trial, will not be held in the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado. 

“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the judges wrote. “There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith.”

And with these rhetorical feints the judges signed Assange’s death warrant. 

None of the “assurances” offered by Biden’s Department of Justice are worth the paper they are written on.  All come with escape clauses. None are legally binding. Should Assange do “something subsequent to the offering of these assurances that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX” he will be subject to these coercive measures. And you can be assured that any incident, no matter how trivial, will be used, if Assange is extradited, as an excuse to toss him into the mouth of the dragon. 

Should Australia, which has marched in lockstep with the US in the persecution of their citizen not agree to his transfer, he will remain for the rest of his life in a US prison. But so what. If Australia does not request a transfer it “cannot be a cause for criticism of the USA, or a reason for regarding the assurances as inadequate to meet the judge’s concerns,” the ruling read. And even if that were not the case, it would take Assange ten to fifteen years to appeal his sentence up to the Supreme Court, more than enough time for the state assassins to finish him off. I am not sure how to respond to assurance number four, stating that Assange will not be held pre-trial in the ADX in Florence. No one is held pre-trail in ADX Florence. But it sounds reassuring, so I guess those in the Biden DOJ who crafted the diplomatic note added it. ADX Florence, of course, is not the only supermax prison in the United States that might house Assange. Assange can be shipped out to one of our other Guantanamo-like facilities. Daniel Hale, the former US Air Force intelligence analyst currently imprisoned for releasing top-secret documents that exposed widespread civilian casualties caused by US drone strikes, has been held at USP Marion, a federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, in a Communications Management Unit (CMU) since October. CMUs are highly restrictive units that replicate the near total isolation imposed by SAMs. 

The High Court ruling ironically came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced at the virtual Summit for Democracy that the Biden administration will provide new funding to protect reporters targeted because of their work and support independent international journalism. Blinken’s “assurances” that the Biden administration will defend a free press, at the very moment the administration was demanding Assange’s extradition, is a glaring example of the rank hypocrisy and mendacity that makes the Democrats, as Glen Ford used to say, “not the lesser evil, but the more effective evil.” 

Assange is charged in the US under 17 counts of the Espionage Act and one count of hacking into a government computer. The charges could see him sentenced to 175 years in prison, even though he is not a US citizen and WikiLeaks is not a US-based publication. If found guilty it will effectively criminalize the investigative work of all journalists and publishers, anywhere in the world and of any nationality, who possess classified documents to shine a light on the inner workings of power. This mortal assault on the press will have been orchestrated, we must not forget, by a Democratic administration. It will set a legal precedent that will delight other totalitarian regimes and autocrats who, emboldened by the United States, will gleefully seize journalists and publishers, no matter where they are located, who publish inconvenient truths. 

There is no legal basis to hold Julian in prison. There is no legal basis to try him, a  a foreign national, under the Espionage Act.  The CIA spied on Assange in the Ecuador Embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers. This fact alone invalidates any future trial. Assange, who after seven years in a cramped room without sunlight in the embassy, has been held for nearly three years in a high-security prison in London so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the unrelenting abuse and torture it knows will lead to his psychological and physical disintegration.

The persecution of Assange is designed to send a message to anyone who might consider exposing the corruption, dishonesty and depravity that defines the black heart of our global elites. 

Dean Yates can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. He was the Reuters bureau chief in Baghdad on the morning of July 12, 2007 when his Iraqi colleagues Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh were killed, along with nine other men, by US Army Apache gunships. Two children were seriously wounded. The US government spent three years lying to Yates, Reuters and the rest of the world about the killings, although the army had video evidence of the massacre taken by the Apaches during the attack. The video, known as the Collateral Murder video, was leaked in 2010 by Chelsea Manning to Assange. It, for the first time, proved that those killed were not engaged, as the army had repeatedly insisted, in a firefight. It exposed the lies spun by the US that it could not locate the video footage and had never attempted to cover up the killings. 

Watch the full interview I did with Yates

The Spanish courts can tell you what US “assurances” are worth…………….

The people in Afghanistan can tell you what U.S “assurances” are worth………..

The people in Iraq can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. ……..

The people of Iran can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. ………

The thousands of people tortured in US global black sites can tell you what US “assurances” are worth……..

Assange, at tremendous personal cost, warned us. He gave us the truth. The ruling class is crucifying him for this truth. With his crucifixion, the dim lights of our democracy go dark.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VzFJ9csons&t=130s      https://scheerpost.com/2021/12/13/hedges-the-execution-of-julian-assange/?fbclid=IwAR1dILpTE-VKbcdBa_gFy3vKLPMvddoBhPf6MKJ1cmuDMf0HrFUyungV-vo

‘The Catalog of Nuclear Death’: The U.S.’s Hair Raising Plan to Obliterate Russia

December 25, 2021


‘The Catalog of Nuclear Death’: The U.S.’s Hair Raising Plan to Obliterate Russia, 
The U.S. Air Force’s titled 1956 Atomic Weapons Requirement Study outlined all the targets it planned to hit if World War III broke out and how many bombers and nuclear weapons it would need to get the job done. In short, the report is a catalog of nuclear death. The National Interest, by WarIsBoring 10 Dec 21, Here’s What You Need to Know: The Air Force’s 1956 Atomic Weapons Requirement Study detailed the U.S.’s nuclear plan to attack Russia if the need should ever arrive. 

In one scene from Stanley Kubrick’s iconic Cold War film Dr. Strangelove, an irate president Merkin Muffley refuses to get on board with a massive nuclear attack already in progress. Played by Peter Sellers, Muffley is trying to decide what to do after a rogue U.S. Air Force general sends his planes to bomb the Soviet Union.

“You’re talking about mass murder, general, not war!” Muffley angrily tells George C. Scott’s Gen. Turgidson, after the officer suggests the impending strikes could actually work. “Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed,” Turgidson quips.

“But I do say no more than 10 to 20 million killed … tops,” the general stammers. “Uh, depending on the breaks.”

Released to a public faced with the ever present threat of nuclear annihilation in 1964, Kubrick probably had no idea just how close he was to the truth. Eight years earlier, the Air Force put together a report detailing how to obliterate the Soviet Union, China and their allies.

The National Security Archive at George Washington University obtained the document through a Mandatory Declassification Review and released it online on Dec. 22, 2015.

The flying branch’s blandly titled 1956 Atomic Weapons Requirement Study outlined all the targets it planned to hit if World War III broke out and how many bombers and nuclear weapons it would need to get the job done. Over the course of more than 800 pages, intelligence analysts identified more than 2,000 potential “designated ground zeroes” in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, including both military bases and cities.

“The SAC study includes chilling details,” William Burr, a nuclear researcher and analyst at the National Security Archive, wrote along with the release. “According to its authors, their target priorities and nuclear bombing tactics would expose nearby civilians and ‘friendly forces and people’ to high levels of deadly radioactive fallout.”

In short, the report is a catalog of nuclear death.

In 1956, Washington no longer had a monopoly on atomic bombs, but appeared to be winning the nuclear arms race. While Moscow had set off its first atomic weapon seven years before, the Pentagon had already started fielding even more powerful thermonuclear hydrogen bombs.

With long-range ballistic missiles still in development, the Air Force relied on a fleet of lumbering bombers and faster fighters to lob the nuclear arsenal in any actual war. The attack would come from warplanes armed with free-fall bombs or from early cruise missiles like the much maligned Snark………………

Those targets or target complexes that do not have a direct bearing on the destruction of SovBloc air power objective are part of the systematic destruction objective,” the authors explained. “The importance of the latter is not minimized.”

H-bombs would be reserved for important military targets, like air bases. American planes would drop atomic bombs on the rest……

The report includes a five-page key to every single category that might appear in the voluminous lists of bombing targets. It includes country codes for various facilities in all eight members of the Warsaw Pact. Depending on the type of target, three digit identifiers for Communist China, North Korea, North Vietnam and pre-Shah Iran might also be present.

Every single entry has a special eight-number code corresponding to an entry in a master “bombing encyclopedia.” The first four digits indicate a general zone, while the last four digits indicate the particular site or collection of sites within that particular area. This recording method theoretically allows for up to 9,999 individual targets within a given space.

The analysts clearly tried to pick out anything and everything that might have any effect on the war effort, from facilities producing cutting tools to rubber tires to the antibiotic streptomycin. Most notably, the Air Force defined “275” as the code for “population.”

Every single entry has a special eight-number code corresponding to an entry in a master “bombing encyclopedia.” The first four digits indicate a general zone, while the last four digits indicate the particular site or collection of sites within that particular area. This recording method theoretically allows for up to 9,999 individual targets within a given space.

The analysts clearly tried to pick out anything and everything that might have any effect on the war effort, from facilities producing cutting tools to rubber tires to the antibiotic streptomycin. Most notably, the Air Force defined “275” as the code for “population.”

“The authors developed a plan for the ‘systematic destruction’ of Soviet bloc urban-industrial targets that specifically and explicitly targeted ‘population’ in all cities, including Beijing, Moscow, Leningrad, East Berlin and Warsaw,” Burr pointed out. “Purposefully targeting civilian populations as such directly conflicted with the international norms of the day, which prohibited attacks on people per se (as opposed to military installations with civilians nearby).”

But other contemporary sources make it abundantly clear the Pentagon saw any person tied to a war effort as a viable military target. A now declassified 1952 U.S. Navy film on chemical and biological warfare specifically states a goal “to incapacitate the enemy’s armed forces and that portion of his human population that directly supports them.” With similar thoughts in mind, the U.S. Army had looked into radiological warfare and built deadly dirty bombs………

“The anonymous authors may not have been scientists,” Burr said. “But in light of the 1954 Castle Bravo test, which spread radioactive debris globally, they should have known better.”……. This first appeared in WarIsBoring here.  https://nationalinterest.org/blog/reboot/catalog-nuclear-death-uss-hair-raising-plan-obliterate-russia-197705

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France quietly benefiting from the neglect of international commitments to protect the seas from radioactive discharges.

December 25, 2021

  SafeEnergy E Journal  No.92. December 21, Radioactive Discharges The OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the North-East Atlantic has discreetly postponed its commitment to reduce radioactive discharges at sea from 2020 to 2050. Following a meeting on October 1st, the participating ministers discreetly postponed until 2050 the commitment made in 1998 in Sintra to reduce radioactive discharges into the sea to levels close to zero by 2020.

Once again, international commitments to the environment are being disregarded. This does not bode well for the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow. France is the first beneficiary of this 30-year postponement because, with its reprocessing plant at La Hague, it has the highest radioactive discharges to the sea in Europe. And these discharges are not decreasing, as shown by the results of the citizen monitoring of radioactivity in the environment carried out by Association pour le Contrôle de la Radioactivité dans l’Oues (ACRO) for over 25 years. (1)   


  The “Cascais Declaration” signed at a Ministerial Meeting in October 2021 said:“We aim to achieve zero pollution by 2050 and commit to reduce single-use plastic items and maritime related plastic items on our beaches by 50% by 2025 and 75% by 2030. We will take action to eliminate anthropogenic eutrophication and continue to reduce hazardous and radioactive substances to near background levels for naturally occurring substances and close to zero for human made substances.” (2)

 Remi Parmentier, who was the lead Greenpeace International campaigner when the Sintra Decalation was signed in 1998 tweeted:   

  “30 yrs backward presented as progress. The OSPAR Commission is using Orwellian language: “We *aim* to achieve zero pollution by 2050” [“aim”, not “commit”], wiping out the previous target date (agreed in 1998) which was…2020.” 
Meanwhile, the NDA is now saying all Magnox reprocessing will be completed in 2022. The Magnox reprocessing plant was expected to close in 2020 before delays caused by Covid. (3  

  1. ACRO 19th Oct 2021 https://www.acro.eu.org/the-ospar-convention-for-the-protection-of-the-north-eastatlantic-discreetly-postpones-its-commitment-to-reduce-radioactive-discharges-at-sea-from-2020-to-2050/

2. OSPAR Cascais Declaration October 2021 https://www.ospar.org/site/assets/files/46205/cascaisdeclaration2021.pdf
 3. NDA Mission Progress Report 2021. 4th Nov 2021 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/103121https://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/SafeEnergy_No92.pdf

Europe to pay half for raising Russia’s dangerous sunken submarines, – while Russia builds new ones!

December 25, 2021

The sunken submarines K-27 and K-159 are the potential source of contamination of the Arctic, the riskiest ones,”

As Moscow this spring took the Chair of the Arctic Council, the need to lift dangerous nuclear materials from the seabed was highlighted as a priority.

No other places in the world’s oceans have more radioactive and nuclear waste than the Kara Sea.

Europe to pay half … it is a dilemma that international partners are providing financial support to lift old Cold War submarines from the ocean, while Russia gives priority to building new nuclear-powered submarines threatening the security landscape in northern Europe. 

EU willing to co-fund lifting of sunken nuclear subs from Arctic seabed  https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/nuclear-safety/2021/11/europe-offers-pay-russia-raise-sunken-nuclear-subs The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) has decided to start a technical review aimed to find a safe way to lift two Cold War submarines from the Barents- and Kara Seas. By Thomas Nilsen   

“We are proceeding now,” says a smiling Jari Vilén, Finland’s Ambassador for Barents and Northern Dimension.

Projects aimed to improve nuclear safety are some of the few successful arenas for cooperation still going strong between the European Union and Russia.

“In roughly two years time we will have the understanding on what and how it can be done, what kind of technology has to be used,” Vilén elaborates with reference to the two old Soviet submarines K-159 and K-27, both rusting on the Arctic seabed with highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel elements in their reactors.

(more…)

The USA-UK nuclear cabal

June 17, 2021

A toxic relationship that could destroy the world

The USA-UK nuclear cabal — Beyond Nuclear International The USA-UK nuclear cabal
  May 30, 2021 by beyondnuclearinternational   
A “special relationship” in nuclear collusion
By Leonard Eiger On March 16th the United Kingdom announced (in its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Foreign Policy and Development titled Global Britain in a Competitive Age) that it will increase the limit on its nuclear arsenal for the first time in decades. Instead of maintaining a cap of 180 warheads (as it had previously stated), the UK will increase its stockpile cap to 260 warheads — a 40% increase. The review also broadens the role of nuclear weapons to include the possible use of nuclear weapons to address emerging technologies (cyber attacks). This is shocking and unacceptable! Indeed, it seems the British Empire is flexing its imperial muscles as it breaks away from the rest of Europe.

The announcement comes at a precarious time. A new nuclear arms race is brewing. The US and Russia, the two largest nuclear powers (with some 93 percent of global nuclear warheads) are failing to lead the world away from reliance on nuclear weapons, and other nations are following their lead. At a time when most nations are calling for an end to nuclear weapons (UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons), rather than setting a positive example and supporting the treaty, the UK is instead fanning the flames of proliferation. And, it is getting loads of help along the way.

Just prior to the announcement a spokesperson for the UK Ministry of Defence reiterated the longstanding claim that the “UK is committed to maintaining its independent nuclear deterrent, which exists to deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life.” The British have been claiming their nuclear weapons systems to be “independent” for so long that the world seems to have accepted this fraudulent claim. In fact, the UK’s nuclear forces are anything but independent, and there is ample evidence to disprove the governments claim. To more fully understand the situation, we need to study a bit of history.

Although the US declared its independence when the original 13 American colonies severed their political connections to Great Britain, the two countries have since found it mutually beneficial to develop a strong alliance; what has become known as the “Special Relationship,” an unofficial term used to describe certain aspects of their relationship including political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, and military.
And nowhere has their relationship been quite as special as is the case involving nuclear weapons. The two countries signed the Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA) in 1958, a secretly negotiated bilateral treaty on nuclear weapons cooperation under which both countries agreed to exchange classified information to develop their respective nuclear weapon systems. 

The treaty permits “the transfer between the United States and the United Kingdom of classified information concerning atomic weapons; nuclear technology and controlled nuclear information; material and equipment for the development of defence plans; training of personnel; evaluation of potential enemy capability; development of delivery systems; and the research, development, and design of military reactors.”
The MDA was last amended in 2014. In 2018, officials from the UK and US met to celebrate the 60-year anniversary of the MDA. The official statement from the US State Department referred to “promoting peace to fighting terrorism” and “advancing each nations’ mutual understanding of the safety, security, and reliability of their respective nuclear weapon stockpiles,” while making no mention of the direct transfers of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems (missiles) currently deployed on British Trident submarines.

The MDA only came about after the UK developed its own thermonuclear weapons, and the US then agreed to supply delivery systems, and designs and nuclear material for British warheads. Both countries’ ballistic missile submarines are commonly referred to as “Trident” due to the missiles they both carry, which are the Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile manufactured by Lockheed Martin Aerospace, a US-based corporation.

The UK leases the Trident missiles, deployed on its four Trident submarines, from the US government. Those submarines return regularly to the US Trident submarine base in King’s Bay, Georgia, for the maintenance and replacement of the missiles. As of 2017, the UK paid an annual contribution of approximately $16.7 million towards the operations cost of Kings Bay. 

Both the Trident missile’s navigation and guidance systems are the same on both US and UK versions, and utilize US software. The US Navy supplies weather and gravity data to both US and UK submarines, which is vital to ensuring missile accuracy. Both hardware and software for the fire control system (used to assign targets to warheads) are produced by US companies. The hardware is produced by General Dynamics, a US-based corporation. 

All test launches of Trident missiles from British Trident submarines are conducted off the Florida coast and under US supervision. The test data is analyzed by the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) at Johns Hopkins University and by the Charles Stark Draper Laboratories.

The UK’s warheads are what the UK calls “Holbrook”, and are mounted on Trident II D5 missiles carried on British Vanguard-class “Trident” nuclear submarines. The “Holbrook” thermonuclear warhead is nearly identical to the US W76 warhead deployed on those same Trident II D5 missiles on US OHIO-class “Trident” submarines. Is this a case of plagiarism or just an all-too cozy, mutually beneficial relationship between two nuclear-armed nations?

According to the British government, their nuclear warheads are designed, manufactured and maintained by the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in the UK. AWE has been managed since 2000 by AWE Management, of which US-based Lockheed Martin Corporation is a partner, holding a 51 percent stake in the operation. It was announced in late 2020 that the British government will regain direct control of operations and development of AWE as of June 2021. 

A UK Ministry of Defence fact sheet states that their warheads are “designed and manufactured in the U.K.” However, a declassified U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) document obtained by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) under the Freedom of Information Act directly links the warhead designs on U.S. and U.K. Trident missiles. Alas, the British nuclear warheads are not so British (if at all)……………

Looking into the future, both the US and UK are engaged in programs to build the next generation of ballistic missile submarines to replace their current fleets. Both new subs will incorporate the US-built Common Missile Compartment. There has been talk about a replacement missile for the D5, and a new warhead called the W93 is already being planned, and the British government is engaged in extensive lobbying for it.

The evidence is abundantly clear. The British Trident system is dependent on and, in many ways controlled by, the US in essentially every aspect. It is by no means an “independent nuclear deterrent,” even if you believe in deterrence theory. And this has deeply important meaning under international legal norms.

Article I of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to which the US and UK are both signatories, explicitly prohibits the “transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly…” Under international law the NPT should take precedence over the the US-UK mutual defence agreement, and therefore the agreement would be in violation of the NPT. 

The US and UK have, for decades, undermined both the letter and intent of the NPT through their special nuclear relationship. They have found ways to make their nuclear arsenals more effective and continue to modernize in the name of deterrence and national security. And now, the UK has announced an increase in its nuclear warhead cap. While the UN and a number of countries have chimed in with grave concerns about the UK’s announcement, the US has been noticeably silent. Might the US be pondering such an increase? After all, aren’t treaties meant to be broken (as we saw in the prior US administration)?

sn’t it time to end the special nuclear relationship? Isn’t it time to re-think “deterrence” theory and “national security”? Isn’t it time to recognize that so long as nuclear weapons exist, humanity teeters on the brink of disaster?

And speaking of history, we need to learn the lessons of the past. We have come close to the nuclear precipice far too many times, and the (Doomsday) clock is still ticking. We can’t stop the Clock until we abolish nuclear weapons. Empires come and empires go, yet humanity has only one chance. As for the US and UK, it is time for citizens of both nations to come together to pressure our governments to end the special nuclear relationship, and sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, showing real leadership towards a world free of the threat of nuclear annihilation.


Leonard Eiger is a student and practitioner of nonviolence, working for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. He coordinates media and outreach for Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and the NO To NEW TRIDENT Campaign.

Headline photo by Nicholas Raymond/Creative Commons/www.freestock.ca     https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/05/30/the-usa-uk-nuclear-cabal/

Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima 

May 3, 2021

Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima  https://theecologist.org/2021/mar/09/australian-uranium-fuelled-fukushima, Dr Jim Green, David Noonan 9th March 2021 The Fukushima disaster was fuelled by Australian uranium but lessons were not learned and the industry continues to fuel global nuclear insecurity with irresponsible uranium export policies.   Fukushima was an avoidable disaster, fuelled by Australian uranium and the hubris and profiteering of Japan’s nuclear industry in collusion with compromised regulators and captured bureaucracies.

  Fukushima was an avoidable disaster, fuelled by Australian uranium and the hubris and profiteering of Japan’s nuclear industry in collusion with compromised regulators and captured bureaucracies.

The Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission ‒ established by the Japanese Parliament ‒ concluded in its 2012 report that the accident was “a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented” if not for “a multitude of errors and wilful negligence that left the Fukushima plant unprepared for the events of March 11”.

The accident was the result of “collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO”, the commission found.

Mining

But overseas suppliers who turned a blind eye to unacceptable nuclear risks in Japan have largely escaped scrutiny or blame. Australia’s uranium industry is a case in point.

Yuki Tanaka from the Hiroshima Peace Institute noted: “Japan is not the sole nation responsible for the current nuclear disaster. From the manufacture of the reactors by GE to provision of uranium by Canada, Australia and others, many nations are implicated.”

There is no dispute that Australian uranium was used in the Fukushima reactors. The mining companies won’t acknowledge that fact — instead they hide behind claims of “commercial confidentiality” and “security”.

But the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office acknowledged in October 2011 that: “We can confirm that Australian obligated nuclear material was at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in each of the reactors — maybe five out of six, or it could have been all of them”.

BHP and Rio Tinto, two of the world’s largest mining companies, supplied Australian uranium to TEPCO and that uranium was used to fuel Fukushima.

Tsunamis

The mining companies have failed to take any responsibility for the catastrophic impacts on Japanese society that resulted from the use of their uranium in a poorly managed, poorly regulated industry.

Moreover, the mining companies can’t claim ignorance. The warning signs were clear. Australia’s uranium industry did nothing as TEPCO and other Japanese nuclear companies lurched from scandal to scandal and accident to accident.

The uranium industry did nothing in 2002 when it was revealed that TEPCO had systematically and routinely falsified safety data and breached safety regulations for 25 years or more.

The uranium industry did nothing in 2007 when over 300 incidents of ‘malpractice’ at Japan’s nuclear plants were revealed – 104 of them at nuclear power plants.

It did nothing even as the ability of Japan’s nuclear plants to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis came under growing criticism from industry insiders and independent experts.

Vicious cycle

And the uranium industry did nothing about the multiple conflicts of interest plaguing Japanese nuclear regulators.

Mirarr senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula ‒ on whose land in the Northern Territory Rio Tinto’s Ranger mine operated ‒ said she was “deeply saddened” that uranium from Ranger was exported to Japanese nuclear companies including TEPCO.

No such humility from the uranium companies. They get tetchy at any suggestion of culpability, with the Australian Uranium Association describing it as “opportunism in the midst of human tragedy” and “utter nonsense”.

Yet, Australia could have played a role in breaking the vicious cycle of mismanagement in Japan’s nuclear industry by making uranium exports conditional on improved management of nuclear plants and tighter regulation.

Even a strong public statement of concern would have been heard by the Japanese utilities – unless it was understood to be rhetoric for public consumption – and it would have registered in the Japanese media.

Safety

But the uranium industry denied culpability and instead stuck its head in the sand. Since the industry is in denial about its role in fuelling the Fukushima disaster, there is no reason to believe that it will behave more responsibly in future.

Successive Australian governments did nothing about the unacceptable standards in Japan’s nuclear industry. Julia Gillard ‒ Australia’s Prime Minister at the time of the Fukushima disaster ‒ said the disaster “doesn’t have any impact on my thinking about uranium exports”.

Signification elements of Japan’s corrupt ‘nuclear village’ ‒ comprising industry, regulators, politicians and government agencies ‒ were back in control just a few years after the Fukushima disaster. Regulation remains problematic.

Add to that ageing reactors, and companies facing serious economic stress and intense competition, and there’s every reason for ongoing concern about nuclear safety in Japan.

Professor Yoshioka Hitoshi is a Kyushu University academic who served on the government’s 2011-12 Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations.

Regulation

They said in October 2015: “Unfortunately, the new regulatory regime is … inadequate to ensure the safety of Japan’s nuclear power facilities. The first problem is that the new safety standards on which the screening and inspection of facilities are to be based are simply too lax.

“While it is true that the new rules are based on international standards, the international standards themselves are predicated on the status quo.

“They have been set so as to be attainable by most of the reactors already in operation. In essence, the NRA made sure that all Japan’s existing reactors would be able to meet the new standards with the help of affordable piecemeal modifications ‒ back-fitting, in other words.”

In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon called for an independent cost-benefit inquiry into uranium trade. The Australian government failed to act.

Inadequate regulation was a root cause of the Fukushima disaster yet Australia has uranium supply agreements with numerous countries with demonstrably inadequate nuclear regulation, including ChinaIndiaRussia, the United StatesJapanSouth Korea, and Ukraine.

Overthrow

Likewise, Australian uranium companies and the government turn a blind eye to nuclear corruption scandals in countries with uranium supply agreements: South Korea, India, Russia and Ukraine among others.

Indeed, Australia has signed up to expand its uranium trade to sell into insecure regions.

In 2011 ‒ the same year as the Fukushima disaster ‒ the Australian government agreed to allow uranium exports to India.

This despite inadequate nuclear regulation in India, and despite India’s ongoing expansion of its nuclear weaponry and delivery capabilities.

A uranium supply agreement with the United Arab Emirates was concluded in 2013 despite the obvious risks of selling uranium into a politically and militarily volatile region where nuclear facilities have repeatedly been targeted by adversaries intent on stopping covert nuclear weapons programs. Australia was planning uranium sales to the Shah of Iran months before his overthrow in 1979.

Forced labour

A uranium supply agreement with Ukraine was concluded in 2016 despite a host of safety and security concerns, and the inability of the International Atomic Energy Agency to carry out safeguards inspections in regions annexed by Russia.

In 2014, Australia banned uranium sales to Russia, with then prime minister Tony Abbott stating: “Australia has no intention of selling uranium to a country which is so obviously in breach of international law as Russia currently is.”

Australia’s uranium supply agreement with China, concluded in 2006, has not been reviewed despite abundant evidence of inadequate nuclear safety standards, inadequate regulation, lack of transparency, repression of whistleblowers, world’s worst insurance and liability arrangements, security risks, and widespread corruption.

Civil society and NGO’s are campaigning to wind back Australia’s atomic exposures in the uranium trade with emphasis on uranium sales to China.

China’s human rights abuses and a range of strategic insecurity issues warrant a cessation of uranium sales. China’s ongoing human rights abuses in Tibet and mass detention and forced labour against Uyghurs in Xinjiang are severe breaches of international humanitarian law and UN Treaties.

Weapons

China proliferated nuclear weapons know-how to Pakistan, targets Australia in cyber-attacks, and is causing regional insecurity on the India border, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and in the Pacific.

BHP’s Olympic Dam is the only company still selling Australian uranium into China. There is a case for the ‘Big Australian’ to forego uranium sales overall and an onus to end sales to China.

A federal Parliamentary Inquiry in Australia is investigating forced labour in China and the options for Australia to respond. A case is before this inquiry to disqualify China from supply of Australian uranium sales  – see submission 02 on human rights abuses and submission 02.1 on security risks.

Australia supplies uranium with scant regard for nuclear safety risks. Likewise, proliferation risks are given short shrift.

Australia has uranium export agreements with all of the ‘declared’ nuclear weapons states – the US, UK, China, France, Russia – although not one of them takes seriously its obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue disarmament in good faith.

Carte blanche

Australia claims to be working to discourage countries from producing fissile – explosive – material for nuclear bombs, but nonetheless exports uranium to countries blocking progress on the proposed Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

And Australia gives Japan open-ended permission to separate and stockpile plutonium although that stockpiling fans regional proliferation risks and tensions in North-East Asia.

Despite liberal export policies, Australian uranium sales are in long-term decline and now represent only 8.9 percent of world uranium usage.

With the Ranger mine shut down and no longer processing ore for uranium exports, there are only two operating uranium mines in Australia: BHP’s Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine and the smaller General Atomics’ Beverley Four Mile operation ‒ both in South Australia.

Uranium accounts for less than 0.3 percent of Australia’s export revenue and less than 0.1 percent of all jobs in Australia.

One wonders why an industry that delivers so little is given carte blanche by the government to do as it pleases.

These Authors

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia. David Noonan is an independent environment campaigner. For further information on BHP’s Olympic Dam mine click her

New Zealand groups oppose launch of U.S. military nuclear satellite

April 5, 2021

a security expert has suggested it puts New Zealand into “the kill chain” and makes New Zealand a military target. 

NZ rocket launches may breach nuclear-free laws, say peace groups,  The Spinoff Ollie Neas | 8 Mar 21, Rocket Lab launches of satellites honing US military targeting capabilities have been criticised by the Peace Foundation, which is calling on the PM to step in.Peace groups are calling on the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, to stop the launch of a controversial US military satellite that is scheduled for lift-off from Mahia this month, saying it may contravene nuclear-free legislation.

Rocket Lab’s next mission is due to carry a satellite for the US Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command, called the Gunsmoke-J. The satellite is designed to improve US military targeting capabilities by improving how data is provided to “warfighters”.The satellite has previously been condemned by the Green Party, while a security expert has suggested it puts New Zealand into “the kill chain” and makes New Zealand a military target.

Non-profit group The Peace Foundation has now added to those concerns: the launch may breach New Zealand’s nuclear-free laws. In an open letter to the prime minister, the Peace Foundation’s International Affairs and Disarmament Committee says Rocket Lab’s launches for US military agencies risk drawing New Zealand “into supporting the weaponisation of space and the related nuclear arms race”. Satellites contributing to nuclear weapons programmes cannot be approved under New Zealand law.

But the Peace Foundation says New Zealand may lack the technical expertise and information necessary to properly assess whether a satellite is making such a contribution. As a result, the Peace Foundation says approvals of US military satellites should be suspended, and approval of the Gunsmoke-J satellite revoked, until greater oversight of space launches is implemented. The letter has been endorsed by 17 civic, peace and religious groups, as well as members of the public…………

The US Army says the technology being demonstrated could, among other purposes, assist in “long-range precision fires” – a type of missile used to provide “precision surface-to-surface deep-strike capability”. The minister responsible for approving the satellite, Stuart Nash, told parliament last month that he was “unaware” of its “specific military capabilities”. Otago University conflict resolution and disarmament expert Kevin Clements said it is “astonishing” that Nash was unaware of the Gunsmoke-J’s specific military capabilities.

“It is even worse that he is willing to rely on the US Army alone to provide the information required by him and New Zealand’s space agency in relation to the approval process,” Clements said in a statement. “Rocket Lab’s launch programme is increasingly opaque. The precise content of each payload seems intentionally ambiguous and approvals do not seem to take New Zealand’s anti-nuclear legislation into account.”

Strong parallel’ with nuclear ships issue The Peace Foundation says there is a “strong parallel” between the launch of US military satellites from New Zealand and the “neither confirm nor deny” issue of the 1980s. The US policy of neither confirming nor denying whether its ships were nuclear armed led to a ban on US warships visiting New Zealand ports – the seminal moment in the anti-nuclear campaign.

As with that issue, the Peace Foundation says New Zealand cannot be confident that US military satellites launched from New Zealand are not contributing to nuclear weapons systems. The Peace Foundation says assessing whether the Gunsmoke-J complies with the nuclear free law would require detailed technical knowledge of how the technology might be used in the future. “Increasingly, space-based US military assets are ‘dual-capable’ (can support nuclear and non-nuclear weapons), and dual-capable satellites used for non-nuclear targeting today can easily be used for nuclear targeting tomorrow……….

Call to reform space law  In light of its concerns, the Peace Foundation says greater oversight is needed over New Zealand’s space regime. It proposes assigning oversight of space launches to the prime minister, strengthening space regulations, and mandating oversight of space-launch activity to the Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control (PACDAC) – a body set up by the Nuclear Free Zone Act to advise the government on disarmament matters.

Minutes of PACDAC meetings obtained by The Spinoff under the Official Information Act show the committee has had ongoing concerns about the consistency of space activity with New Zealand’s nuclear free law. Space Agency officials have met with the committee to assure members of the legality of launches. The Peace Foundation also calls for changes to the Technology Safeguards Agreement that New Zealand signed with the US to allow for the transfer of sensitive rocket technology.

The treaty requires the US to provide “sufficient information” about its spacecraft to allow New Zealand to assess them, but also allows the US government to veto any space launch from New Zealand. “There are some very big moral questions at stake here,” says Clements. “Is this current Labour government willing for New Zealand soil to be used by Rocket Lab in order to assist US government targeting in conventional and nuclear warfare?”

The Peace Foundation’s letter comes a week after Rocket Lab announced that it would list publicly on the Nasdaq stock exchange, with a valuation of $5.7 billion. Although its main launch site and production facility is in New Zealand, Rocket Lab is US owned. Its investors include major US venture capital firms as well as aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin, which produces nuclear weapons. Rocket Lab also unveiled plans to launch a larger rocket called the Neutron, which will allow it to launch astronauts.

Since 2018, Rocket Lab has launched military or intelligence payloads on seven different missions for agencies ranging from US Special Operations Command to the National Reconnaissance Office, a major US spy agency.  Rocket Lab says around 30% of its business is for defence agencies. https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/09-03-2021/nz-rocket-launches-may-breach-nuclear-free-laws-say-peace-groups/

French report on the unfairness of France’s nuclear history in Algeria

April 5, 2021

French report grapples with nuclear fallout from Algerian War  https://thebulletin.org/2021/03/french-report-grapples-with-nuclear-fallout-from-algerian-war/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=ThursdayNewsletter03042021&utm_content=NuclearRisk_AlgerianWar_03042021&cf_chl_captcha_tk=32bfe924bf6171eab26d9deb08cd73459b5e69dc-1614896664-0-AWxxiguytXLkG_ERcOpFeDyCqmv7X1FYZmZBNGAnlwY6ZlI8PgWd2By Austin R. Cooper | March 4, 2021 n January, the French historian Benjamin Stora filed a report commissioned by the French President Emmanuel Macron aimed at “reconciliation of memories between France and Algeria,” which France ruled as the jewel of its colonial empire for more than 130 years.

The Stora Report addressed several scars from the Algerian War for Independence (1954–62), a bloody struggle for decolonization that met savage repression by French troops. One of these controversies stems from French use of the Algerian Sahara for nuclear weapons development.

France proved its bomb in the atmosphere above this desert, naming the inaugural blast , or Blue Jerboa, after the local rodent. Between 1960 and 1966, France detonated 17 nuclear devices in the Algerian Sahara: four atmospheric explosions during the Algerian War, and another 13 underground, most of these after Algerian Independence.

French nuclear ambitions became inextricable from the process of Algerian decolonization. The Saharan blasts drew international outrage, stalled ceasefire negotiations, and later threatened an uneasy peace across the Mediterranean.

The Stora Report signaled that radioactive fallout from the Algerian War has remained a thorn between the two nations. But the document comes up short of a clear path toward nuclear reconciliation.

A United Nations dispute. The French bomb collided with the Algerian War before the first mushroom cloud rose above the Sahara. In November 1959, Algerian allies representing independent states in Africa and Asia contested French plans for the desert in the First Committee on Disarmament at the United Nations.

Part of the French strategy at the United Nations was to drive a wedge between the nuclear issue and what French diplomats euphemistically termed the “Question of Algeria.” French obfuscation continued for decades.

France would not, until 1999, call the bloodshed a war, preferring the line that what happened in Algeria, as part of France, amounted to a domestic dispute, rather than UN business. Macron became, in 2018, the first French president to acknowledge “systemic torture” by French troops in Algeria.

The Afro-Asian challenge to Saharan explosions hurdled France’s diplomatic barricades at the United Nations. The French delegation tried to strike references to the Algerian War as irrelevant. But their African and Asian counterparts painted the desert blasts as a violation of African sovereignty.

The concern was not only for contested territory in Algeria, but also for independent states bordering the desert, whose leaders warned that nuclear fallout could cross their national borders. Radiation measurements taken in the wake of Gerboise bleue proved many of them right.

Nuclear weapons represented another piece of French imperialism on the continent.

Secret negotiations resumed in September 1961, with US Ambassador to Tunisia Walter N. Walmsley serving as France’s backchannel. The US State Department worried that French attachment to the test sites might thwart the decolonization process.

Lead Algerian negotiator Krim Belkacem asked Walmsley if prospects for a ceasefire still hinged on France retaining control of the test sites. Krim got his answer when Franco-Algerian talks resumed the following month, at the end of October 1961.

France did not abandon its goal to continue nuclear explosions in the Sahara. But the Algerian position appeared to have softened. So long as further blasts did not impinge on Algeria’s “eventual sovereignty” over the desert, as one archival document put it, a deal looked possible.

The Evian Accords marked a nuclear compromise. Finally signed in March 1962, the landmark treaty granted France a five-year lease to the Saharan test sites but did not specify terms of use.

Going underground. Advice from the French Foreign Ministry played a key role in pushing France’s weapons program beneath Saharan mountains. French diplomats suggested that underground explosions would present, according to one archival document, “significantly less serious” challenges than atmospheric ones for future relations with Algeria and its African neighbors.

This did not stop Algeria’s first president, Ahmed Ben Bella, from winning political capital with the nuclear issue. In public, Ben Bella cast Saharan blasts as an intolerable violation of Algerian sovereignty, as had his allies at the United Nations. In private, however, Ben Bella acquiesced to the Evian terms and reportedly tried to squeeze French financial aid out of the deal.

The Hoggar Massif shook 13 times before France handed over its two Saharan test sites to Algeria in 1967. An accident occurred during one of these underground blasts, dubbed Béryl, when containment measures failed. Several French soldiers and two high-ranking French officials suffered the highest radiation exposures, but roughly 240 members of “nomadic populations” in the region received lower doses.

Meanwhile, France began construction on its Pacific test range in French Polynesia, the site of nearly 200 nuclear explosions between 1966 and 1996. Most took place underground, but France also conducted atmospheric detonations in Polynesia, and these continued into the 1970s. Even though the Limited Test Ban Treaty had gone into effect in 1963—prohibiting nuclear blasts in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space—France refused to sign it.

Contamination and compensation. As part of its reconciliation proposal, the Stora Report encouraged Franco-Algerian cooperation on environmental remediation of the Saharan test sites. An expert report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, however, concluded in 2005 that environmental interventions were “not required” unless human traffic near the sites should increase.

The Stora Report briefly mentioned compensation linked to radiation exposure from French nuclear weapons development, but this deserves a closer look. In 2010, the French Parliament passed a law recognizing these victims and establishing funds and procedures to provide compensation for illness and injury. So far, France has earmarked 26 million euros for this purpose, but almost none of that has gone to Algerians.

Decades earlier, France’s nuclear allies turned to compensation programs in an attempt to reconcile with marginalized groups affected by weapons development without disclosure or consent. In 1993, for example, the United Kingdom settled with Australia as redress for indigenous people and personnel involved in UK explosions conducted in the former colony.

Facing similar lawsuits, the United States provided monetary compensation and health benefits to the indigenous people of the Marshall Islands, where US nuclear planners “offshored” their most powerful blasts during the Cold War arms race. Other US programs have made compensation available to communities “downwind” of the Nevada Test Site and surrounded by the uranium mines fueling the US nuclear arsenal, including Tribal Nations in the Four Corners region.

Compensation programs map a global history of colonial empire, racial discrimination, and dispossession of indigenous land, but postcolonial inequalities look particularly stark from the Sahara. Including appeals, France has granted 545 of 1,739 total requests filed by French soldiers and civilian participants in the nuclear detonations, as well as exposed populations in Algeria and Polynesia. Only 1 of 52 Algerian dossiers has proven successful.

French officials responsible for evaluating these files report that the ones from Algeria often arrive incomplete or in a shoddy state, and pin the blame on the Algerian government’s inability or unwillingness to provide the geographical, historical, and biomedical evidence that French assessment procedures demand. Claims must demonstrate that an individual worked or lived in a fixed area surrounding one of the two Saharan test sites, between February 1960 and December 1967, and suffered at least one of 21 types of cancer recognized as radiation-linked by French statute.

A step toward reconciliation. If Macron really wants to tackle France’s nuclear history in Algeria—and its aftermath—his government should start here. The French Parliament opened the door to Algerian compensation in 2010, and important revisions to the evaluation procedures took place in 2017, but there has never been a level playing field. Macron could, for example, require that French diplomats posted in Algeria help Algerians build their cases and locate supporting documents.

Another option: Macron could declassify archival materials documenting the intensity and scope of radioactive fallout generated by French nuclear blasts. Draconian interpretations of French statutes on the reach of military secrecy continue to block access to the vast majority of military, civil, and diplomatic collections on France’s nuclear weapons program—including radiation effects. Foreign archives have provided useful information, but official documentation from the French government would help exposed populations—like those in the Sahara—understand what happened, evaluate the risks, bolster their claims, and likely find these more successful.

The Stora Report did well to acknowledge nuclear fallout from the Algerian War. Giving Algerians a fair shot at compensation should mark France’s first step toward reconciliation.