Contributed from Victoria
Who would have thought an Australian government would start tearing up the nation’s long-standing opposition to nuclear proliferation, and to do it without debate or a mandate from the public?
The coalition had already been moving in this direction. For years it had been one of the veery few countries voting against a United Nations resolution to ban nuclear weapons. The United States was against it. Australia followed Washington’s directive as usual. This weekend, Australia voted to abstain.
The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, is reported to have said that Australia had “a long and proud commitment to the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime” and that the government supported the new treaty’s “ambition of a world without nuclear weapons.”
Fair enough. Only, it would ring much louder if the words were backed by action. Voting for the banning of nuclear weapons would speak far more loudly than an abstention. Maybe this is still a step in the right direction, even if it is an exceedingly small one.
Contradicting this is a report the ABC’s Four Corners that the United Sates is preparing to station up to six B-52 nuclear capable bombers on Australian soil, at the Tindal air base south of Darwin.
Tindal air base
This is said to be part of the military wall being constructed around China. These B-52s can fly directly there from Tindal and drop nuclear bombs on Chinese cities.
Allowing these planes is only a part of upscaling the Americanisation of the Australian Defence Force., coming not too far after the agreement to station nuclear powered submarines here. On paper, they are being purchased. In truth they will be under the control of the Pentagon and Australia gets to pay the bill. These submarines are also nuclear capable.
If either is used to deliver the payload, Australia won’t be informed of the fact and Australians have good reason to worry about where this will end. Given that Washington already has strategic and tactical command over the ADF, it is already integrated and a part of the armed forces of the United States.
Australian military chiefs and the government don’t necessarily have access to orders passed through communications facilities in code.
The ruth is we don’t know how far Australia is being integrated into the American nuclear capability.
Penny Wong can talk about ongoing opposition to proliferation. When this comes together with giving a green light towards an increased nuclear presence on Australian soil, it rings hollow. Opposition to nuclear proliferation means opposition to it in Australia.
We are being fooled into this game by a manufactured China threat. China is not trying to invade Australia. There is not even a Chinese naval presence anywhere near Australian waters. No threats to attack Australia have been made. Nor can it be said that there is strategic advantage for China to go to war with Australia.
Nuclearization may well change this. If Australia plays a key role in a nuclear attack, Australia will have been positioned as a legitimate military target.
We must consider that the United States is the only nuclear power that has failed to give to commit to no first nuclear strike.
Heightening tensions is making the world a more dangerous place. This is precisely when the push for diplomatic solutions should be strengthened and not weakened by a turn towards military means.
Referring to the B-52 bombers, Richard Tanter, a senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute a long-time anti-nuclear activist said this.
“It’s a great expansion of Australian commitment to the United States’ war plan with China.
“It’s very hard to think of a more open commitment that we could make. A more open signal to the Chinese that we are going along with American planning for a war with China.”
The best thing for Australia would be to pull out of the nuclear game and assert our national control over our own military and foreign affairs.