Skip to comments.US planned to fire missile at Australia, secret Cabinet papers from 1980s reveal
Posted on 12/31/2011 6:35:44 PM PST by naturalman1975
A SECRET US plan to test MX missiles by firing them from California to the coast of Australia was signed off on by then prime minister Malcolm Fraser.
And it can be revealed that the federal Cabinet agreed to keep the intercontinental ballistic missile tests secret because it was "preferable for the matter not to become an election issue".
Details of the extraordinary plan, signed off by the most senior members of the Federal Government, are revealed in Cabinet papers released today by the National Archives.
Titled "United States Proposal Regarding Test Launch of MX Missiles", the file is marked "SECRET" and was presented to Cabinet by the defence minister James Killen.
The file notes that in June 1981 Cabinet had decided, after a verbal briefing from Mr Fraser, that there was "no objection in principle to the United States proposal".
Ronald Reagan, who was pursuing the strategic theory of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) against the Russians, was seeking a firm date and Cabinet discussed the plan again.
Mr Fraser had outlined the US proposal "for two test launchings of the new MX missile to the Tasman Sea off Cape Pillar".
The proposed words for an announcement to Parliament are included in the Cabinet submission.
It states: "I wish to inform the House that the Government has agreed to the US request and that two test launches will occur in January/February 1984. I would emphasise that the tests do not involve warheads as such and the missiles will not contain any nuclear material.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.com.au ...
Someone who didn’t care for Crocodile Dundee?
Big deal. It’s not like there would have been any nuclear materials involved. Pure media sensationalism here.
We have fire Minute Men Missiles at small islands. No big deal.
Dummy warheads arriving from one MX missile
Seems it would be good to publicize this kind of capability. Makes Irans photoshop missiles seem kinda cheesy.
Seem like a test for missile technology. Probably had a blank payload. Not sure what the issue is. It is not like it could have blown anything up.
“I would emphasise that the tests do not involve warheads”
Why would this possibly be an issue??? Australia is a valued ally who was assisting in defense testing.
” Ronald Reagan, who was pursuing the strategic theory of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) against the Russians,”
That sounds kinda ominous or am I just reading that wrong?
There is no issue. None whatsoever.
However, the Sydney Telegraph is trying to make it into one.
I gotta missile for Julia Gillard...
Usually, missiles are fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands - about 5000 miles. A test targeted at the Tasman Sea would be about 7-8000 miles. The Russians would have seen 8-10 dummy warheads projected 7500+ miles, meaning that we could hit anywhere we want in the Soviet Union and then some. Considering that the proposed MX warhead was a very advanced design in the 80’s the Soviets would have received an unmistakable message.
MAD is more an academic theory.
Here it is assigned by the media as a pejorative, to further their “cowboy” characterization of Reagan.
I assure you, the true strategy was to WIN.
It was to do with internal Australian and Oceanic politics
The relevations aren't as sensational as the article makes them appear. Back at the time it was known that the Australian Labor Government (which came into power in 1982) had given approval for these tests. This just extends the policy and the way it was to be handled back to the previous Liberal (that's conservative to youse Yanks) government in 1981.
Under both Govs it was "these tests are normal, but let's keep the publicity low-key as some people might be bothered"
However in 1984 NZ elected a Labor Gpovernment that made the Australian Labor Governmen look Liberal. David Lange was extreme left anti-US alliance and wanted fo be the big frog in the South Pacific pond, leading an "independent foreign policy" anti-nuclear alliance of all those other little SoPac islands.
In Feb 1985 he refused a port visit by the USS Buchanan for the alleged reason the US Navy wouldn't tell if it had A-Bombs on board.
His stance was insanely (and I use the word advisedly) popular in New Zealand and the Australian Labor Left.
Shortly after Australian PM Bob Hawke withdrew his previous agreement for the tests. At the time I (and Blind Freddie) could see that it was obvious that Hawke did that to preserve the A(NZ)US treaty alliance - already looking shakey from Lange's decision to be a non-contributing "partner". More in Bulletin of Atomic Scientists June 1985
It was supposed to be ominous. Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)was/is the basis of our nuclear deterrent. Many people don’t realize that there has been no defense against a nuclear ballistic attack. Rather, we made it clear to the Soviets that if they sent even one nuke in our direction, we would obliterate them. And, of course, they would obliterate us also. Hence, Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).
So far, it’s worked.
That sounds kinda ominous or am I just reading that wrong?
Not ominous at all - more of a "so what" item. MAD was a fixture of the cold war, not a Reagan invention. But it seems the writer is going for sensationalism, trying to make something out of what is really a nothing news item.
So what if a test missile with dummy warheads is fired into the vicinity of Australia? There are only two reasons I could see that interesting Australians. One, it would be kinda cool if then knew when and about where it was supposed to come down - I'd love to try taking a time-lapse of the RVs. (like they have from Kwajalein) Two, if it meant we were jointly setting up radar and telemetry sites it might mean some jobs coming to the area putting in roads and setting up facilities, ongoing support/maintenance.
MAD was hardly crafted by Reagan. It probably dates back to Eisenhower or maybe even Truman.
Yeh, well, it’s only because somewhere out there is an Aussie with a KB and a catcher’s mitt going, “I got it, mate!”
We should have “bombed” NZ with those dummy nukes just to tick them off!
And that too would have broken the US-Australian alliance. We get to take the Michael out of our cousins across the Tasman: Anyone else tries it, it’s family.
I understood MAD. I was talking about the way the writer made it sound like Reagan was one crazy dude. As far as that goes I don’t mind our advisaries being not quite sure won’t the president will do.