Skip to comments.Asia unrest may spur Aussie nukes: study
Posted on 12/13/2009 1:15:12 PM PST by myknowledge
A dramatic deterioration in Asian security could push Australia to acquire nuclear weapons, a strategy that it abandoned four decades ago, a new study says.
But Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) analyst Dr Rod Lyons says such a decision certainly isn't close nor is it inevitable.
He said the 2006 Switkowski report on nuclear power suggested it would take Australia at least 10 years and probably 15 to bring the first civil reactor into service.
"It's true that Australia might be able to conduct an emergency nuclear weapon construction effort in rather less time, especially if it were to focus on uranium enrichment to provide a uranium 235 bomb," he said.
"In that case, we wouldn't need to build a reactor. But enrichment is still a highly challenging exercise."
Australia flirted with the nuclear weapon option up until the late 1960s, with a 1968 cabinet paper costing a bomb program at what now seems a modest $150 million. Signing the non-proliferation treaty in 1970 closed off that option.
Dr Lyons said for Australia to swing back to a course it abandoned in the late 1960s would mean a huge - and reluctant - change in strategic policy.
"That course would be taken only with extreme reluctance and it's certainly not one that Australian governments have done much to prepare for over recent decades," he said.
Dr Lyons said Australian policies now aimed to achieve regional nuclear order as much as possible by establishing a benign strategic environment and by stressing non-proliferation, arms control and peaceful exploitation of nuclear technologies.
But should the regional approach change, with a rising prevalence of the technologies that could lead to nuclear weapons, Australia might need a different approach.
Dr Lyons said a number of scenarios could lead to a more worrying Asian nuclear order.
One is a weakening of US nuclear capabilities and loss of confidence in US nuclear deterrence. In such an environment, nations such as Japan, Korea or even Burma could develop nuclear weapons.
A revisionist great power could also arise. Much of the momentum towards an Australian nuclear weapon arose in the 1950s in response to communist China.
And the existing non-proliferation regime could collapse.
Dr Lyons said none of these scenarios were likely, but any would heighten the sense of regional nuclear disorder.
In such a climate, Australia might opt for what's termed "nuclear hedging" - maintaining, or appearing to maintain, capabilities to acquire nuclear weapons in a relatively short time, ranging from a few weeks to a few years.
On that basis Australia now has no semblance of a hedging strategy, lacking any enrichment, weapon design or missile capability. However Australia does produce a large amount of the world's uranium.
"Nuclear hedging is a strategy with remarkably long legs: it can be pursued at a modest tempo over decades," he said.
"It typically involves no hasty, expensive strategic programs, but the gradual accretion of expertise and systems."
On that basis, both Sweden and Japan could develop nuclear weapons within a few years.
Dr Lyons said Australia would have good advance warning of changing strategic circumstances, although developing the necessary capabilities could still take 20 years or more.
Australia should develop some long-range ICBMs deployable on road-mobile TELs like the Russian SS-27 'Stalin' (RT-2UTTH Topol-M)
Or the DF-41
I would call it the Boomerang ICBM
Now they bring the barbie to you.
Australia is pretty sane and realistic about global relations. I can’t see them getting in a feud with Japan.
My point was that if Australia goes nuclear, Japan might be carrying the same concerns. The common point would be concerns about China. I did not intend to mean that Japan and Australia would be worried about each other.
Agreed. But both Australia and Japan may end up facing off with China.
Australia is pretty sane and realistic about global relations.
That's going to be exceptionally difficult to beat as Post of the Thread. Here, have a congratulatory cold one:
Mu shu gai pan on the barbie. That ought to be a deterrent.
**On that basis, both Sweden and Japan could develop nuclear weapons within a few years.**
If Sweden gets the bomb we will never shut up Freeper WesternCulture about how great Sweden is.
LOL. Good point!
If France can have its frappe, then why can’t Sweden have its... sauna maybe?
I see no reason for them to have to develop an untested design either, if they choose to go nuclear I think we should go ahead and give them what they need.
Sure no reason not to help them, they’ve been about the closest ally we’ve ever had and development costs are extremely high for re-engineering what we already have. If there is concern about needing them then they and Japan are about the top two nations I would consider releasing them to and not worrying about proliferation or used for anything other than a retaliation threat.
Really? I wouldn't want to be the guy who has to launch a nuke named after something that turns around mid-flight and returns back to you...
The simple fact is that the truth of nuclear weapons is that they *are* realistic as weapons of war. A nuclear weapon use does not guarantee a worldwide conflagration. And nuclear proliferation insures that eventually they will be used again.
But there is a way to stop this from happening.
What stopped the Cold War from happening was a theory called “Mutually Assured Destruction”, or MAD. It meant that no matter who started a war, or how, it would end with both the US and the Soviet Union devastated.
Importantly, it worked. So with relative peace now between the US and Russia, why not *expand* on the concept of MAD, to the rest of the world, to prevent other countries from using nuclear weapons?
The way this would work would be for the US, and maybe Russia, to guarantee that *any* nation that used nuclear weapons, even at the point of being militarily defeated, would be *annihilated*.
This means to use neutron bomb nuclear weapons, that would kill all life in the country that used a nuclear weapon, though not destroying any of their buildings or contaminating their lands. And then to give all that they had owned to the “victim” nation, as reparations.
For example, were Iran to send a nuclear missile against Israel, whether or not it reached its target and detonated, the US, and maybe Russia would guarantee the use of neutron bombs over the whole of Iran, so there would be no living thing left alive in that nation.
Then all of Iran would become the property of Israel, to do with as they wanted.
All this would require, as a threat, is both that the US, and maybe Russia had neutron weapons, and that any nation that could be attacked, would need to guard its borders from anyone attempting to smuggle in covert weapons.
The final result would hopefully be the prevention of nuclear war, even if limited.
I share your concern.
If it will take 20 years (as the last sentence says) they should start immediately.
They should get the Kiwi’s to go in on it with them. They have a common interest it would seem.
Don't forget North Korea. Their actions are motivating regional proliferation.
“I see no reason for them to have to develop an untested design either, if they choose to go nuclear I think we should go ahead and give them what they need.”
It’s the least we could do after doing so for China...
True, but I still don't think they really know how to target a missile within 20% CAP.
Because a country that believes in "the 72 virgins that await its martyrs" can't be trusted?
"...This means to use neutron bomb nuclear weapons, that would kill all life in the country that used a nuclear weapon, though not destroying any of their buildings or contaminating their lands..."
There are a few Google references to Jimmy Carter's defunding our neutron weaponry, and I think there are no neutron weapons in our arsenal today.
Mongolia-Japan-Australia-Vietnam-india would all form an anti-Sino alliance
I don’t agree with that — Iran with it’s millenia old world history places like the Tomb of Cyrus the Great and Persepolis, Elam etc. — no, that can’t be destroyed. Saudia on the other hand....
I believe you are correct. However, neutron bombs are not difficult to fabricate. Just add some extra shielding to reflect neutrons back in to the weapon, and set the bomb to an airburst detonation.
A double Cold War irony is that the Soviets preferred airburst weapons, that produce little fallout, whereas the US preferred ground burst weapons that produce much fallout. The Soviets also targeted US military targets; whereas the US targeted Soviet cities. On the surface it sounds like we were the bad guys, but there were sound strategic reasons to do so.
That’s the point. Neutron bombs blow up high in the sky, giving off an enormous amount of invisible neutrons, but causing little or no physical damage on the ground. Thus buildings are left untouched, but living things, from bacteria through humans, all die.
The only downside is cleaning up all the cadavers.
Interesting point and one I would be inclined to like :)
Or maybe the Wirraway ICBM?
That transporter looks like it would make a heck of an RV. Do you think it will fit on a normal road?
:-) Thanks for the laugh ...and totally agree. Sweden would need to move to a planet all of its own.
Nice name proposal. It reminds me of the CAC Wirraway, an Australian WWII era trainer and light bomber.
It won't always need to stay on-road. The TEL (transporter-erector-launcher) is off-road capable.