The Australian nuclear horn continues to grow: Daniel 7

Australia Accelerates Missile Program With Its U.S. Ally

Jason Scott

March 30, 2021, 9:12 PM MDT

Australia is liaising with its U.S. ally to accelerate a A$1 billion ($761 million) program designed to create a sovereign guided-missile program, a move that could add to its friction with China.

“We will work closely with the United States on this important initiative to ensure that we understand how our enterprise can best support both Australia’s needs and the growing needs of our most important military partner,” Defence Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement Wednesday.

Blinken Says U.S. Won’t Force ‘Us-or-Them’ Choice With China

The announcement comes after Australia and the U.S. — which have both had increasing tensions with China — in November signed an agreement to develop and test hypersonic cruise missile prototypes, with long-range strike capabilities. The deal is under the nations’ 15-year Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) program, which studies hypersonic scramjets, rocket motors, sensors, and advanced manufacturing materials.

China has warned any country accepting the deployment of intermediate-range American missiles would face retaliation. In recent years regional tensions have ratcheted up as China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have poured money into some of the world’s most advanced missiles systems, while North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been modernizing his arsenal designed to attack the U.S. and its allies.

Within Range

China’s missile arsenal now covers most U.S. Pacific allies

Sources: Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Heritage Foundation and the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Note: Calculations by the United States Studies Centre

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In October 2019, Xi paraded through Beijing a variety of weapons intended to offset American advantages in any conflict, including the DF-17 missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle, which is designed to make warheads almost impossible to intercept.

The latest in global politicsGet insight from reporters around the world in the Balance of Power newsletter.

“The Americans are looking to invest very large amounts of money in advanced missile technology, especially as they realize they are playing catch-up to a large extent” with China and Russia, said Paul Dibb, an emeritus professor in strategic and defense studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. “The Chinese have got nearly 2,000 theater ballistic missiles, some of them with ranges of up to 3,000 kilometers (1,865 miles) and capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.”

For more on regional security:

• China’s Advanced Weaponry on Parade Sends a Message to the U.S.

• U.S. Denies Pressing Allies on Missiles That Raised China’s Ire

• How Kim Jong Un Keeps Advancing His Nuclear Program: QuickTake

• U.S. Cites Threat to Carriers From Chinese Anti-Ship Missile

Japan’s Defense Ministry took steps toward a greater strike capability in 2017, when it allocated 2.2 billion yen ($20 million) for an air-to-surface Joint Strike Missile. The fiscal year 2020 budget allocated 13.6 billion yen more for the cruise missiles, which can be mounted on F-35s.

‘Unmistakable Message’

The U.S. intended to discuss deploying medium-range missiles with its Asian allies to counter the immediate threat of China’s nuclear buildup, the Nikkei Asian Review reported in August. It cited Marshall Billingslea, U.S. special presidential envoy for arms control, as saying that a medium-range, non-nuclear, ground-launched cruise missile under development in the U.S. had the defensive capability that countries such as Japan will need.

Earlier this month, the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Phil Davidson, said China’s military executed a coordinated test launch into the South China Sea of its top anti-ship ballistic missile, which is capable of attacking aircraft carriers in the western Pacific, in an “unmistakable message.”

Dutton’s department is selecting a strategic industry partner to operate the missile program’s manufacturing capability, which could lead to export opportunities, he said. Wednesday’s statement, which didn’t directly link the sovereign guided-missile program with November’s hypersonic cruise missile program announcement, cited estimates by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank that Australia would spend A$100 billion in the next 20 years on missile and guided-weapons purchases.

(Updates with details on missiles.)

Our Allied Nuclear Horns: Daniel 7

When Allies Go Nuclear

How to Prevent the Next Proliferation Threat

By February 12, 2021

The year is 2030. Seismic monitors have just detected an unforeseen underground atomic explosion, signaling that yet another country has joined the growing club of nuclear-armed states. There are now 20 such countries, more than double the number in 2021. To the surprise of many, the proliferation has come not from rogue states bent on committing nuclear blackmail but from a group of countries usually seen as cautious and rule abiding: U.S. allies. Even though they had forsworn acquiring nuclear capabilities decades earlier when they signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), these allies changed their minds and withdrew from the agreement, a move that triggered yet more defections as nations across the world raced to acquire the bomb. And so the number of nuclear decision-makers multiplied, raising the odds of a terrifying possibility: that one of these powerful weapons might go off.

Far-fetched? Perhaps, but this scenario is more plausible now than

The Australian and American Nuclear Horns Join Forces: Daniel 7

Australia, U.S. Teaming to Develop High-Tech Cruise Missiles

EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

The United States and Australia have joined forces to build air-launched hypersonic cruise missiles that could shift the military balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region.

Defense officials see hypersonics as potentially game-changing weapons. Their ability to travel at speeds greater than Mach 5 with extraordinary maneuverability could provide U.S. and allied forces a new quick-strike option capable of overwhelming enemy defenses, experts say.

The new U.S.-Australian project known as the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment, or SCIFiRE, is an Allied Prototyping Initiative that was formally announced by the two nations in December. The aim is to advance air-breathing hypersonic technologies into full-size prototypes that are cost-effective and provide “a flexible, long-range capability, culminating in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions.”

“This initiative will be essential to the future of hypersonic research and development, ensuring the U.S. and our allies lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability,” Michael Kratsios, U.S. acting undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said in a press release.

High-ranking Australian officials are also touting the bilateral effort.

“The SCIFiRE initiative is another opportunity to advance … our Air Combat Capability Program to support joint force effects to advance Australia’s security and prosperity,” said Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, chief of the Royal Australian Air Force.

“Working with our defense scientists here in Australia and our partners in the U.S. Air Force and across the U.S. Department of Defense … we are maximizing our learning during development to better define the capabilities and needs as the system matures,” he added.

While Pentagon officials have made no bones about the fact that developing and fielding hypersonics is a top priority to keep pace with China, Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update only went so far as to say that the government’s plans to acquire advanced strike capabilities would “potentially” include hypersonic weapons.

However, the technology is also a high priority for Canberra, even though the language in the document was “somewhat vague,” said Malcolm Davis, a senior defense analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a prominent think tank.

“The way Australia does policy, I think maybe it’s a little bit more cautious in its public pronouncements than the U.S. is,” he said. “But when you look beneath the surface and you speak to people in defense, it’s a very different picture. They are very focused on this. They are very clear in where they’re going.

“The very fact that we’ve now signed this agreement with the United States a mere few months after the release of the defense strategic update should tell you that we are very committed to developing hypersonic weapons,” he added.

Concerns about China are motivating Canberra’s push for new long-range strike capabilities.

Although the defense strategic update doesn’t explicitly name China as a threat, “everyone understands that’s what the document is about,” Davis said.

The Pentagon has a number of other hypersonics projects underway such as the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, also known as ARRW or “Arrow,” which would utilize rockets to boost the systems into their glide phase.

However, SCIFiRE’s pursuit of air-breathing propulsion technology could offer an advantage by enabling hypersonic missiles to be carried by a broader array of tactical aircraft than the rocket-propelled systems.

“Scramjet technology in cruise missiles allows us to make hypersonic weapons that are cheaper and smaller — small enough to be able to go onto our fighter inventory,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper told reporters during a Defense Writers Group event. “As we look to [aircraft] programs like F-15EX that can carry quite a lot of weapons externally, having something that can be a hypersonic strike platform closer in creates another conundrum for an adversary.”

Davis said the systems could be carried by Australia’s F/A-18F Super Hornets, and perhaps by robotic wingmen that are being designed to accompany fighter jets into battle.

Boeing Australia has already built an Airpower Teaming System drone, and the U.S. Air Force has its own robotic wingman program known as Skyborg.

Jim Faist, the Pentagon’s director of defense research and engineering for advanced capabilities, noted that digital engineering tools will be used to explore options.

“We’re trying to build digital twins of these systems,” he said in an interview. “The hope is that through digital twins, we can accelerate the transition onto many different types of platforms. … It’s part of the design work on SCIFiRE. We’ll be looking at that ease of integration on disparate platforms that we have in the services.”

While the new cruise missiles will initially be deployed on aircraft, Davis envisions the technology evolving over time into sea-launched or ground-launched systems.

“It’s an air-launched hypersonic strike weapon for attacking ground targets or maritime targets, but it also blazes the trail for much more capable, longer-range weapons systems down the track,” Davis said.

Notably, both countries intend for the weapons to remain conventional and not be armed with nuclear warheads.

Pentagon officials see a number of benefits in partnering with Australia.

The U.S. treaty ally was previously a major contributor to a long-running joint research initiative known as the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation, or HIFiRE, program, which explored the fundamental science of the technology and its potential for next-generation aeronautical systems.

Building the new prototypes and putting them through their paces will require complex infrastructure such as wind tunnels for the development cycle as well as ranges that can accommodate full-scale flight tests, Faist noted.

Australia has “world-class” flight-testing capabilities, he added, including a facility in Woomera.

The Australians also bring a lot of know-how to the table, U.S. officials say.

“They really are excellent in the science and technology of hypersonics and … they have worked closely with us for a long time. And we like working with them,” said Robert Joseph, the U.S. Air Force’s chief scientist.

Additionally, the Asia-Pacific ally will bear an “equitable” portion of the costs of the SCIFiRE project, Faist said. “They do have tremendous investment in this program.”

Canberra’s force structure plan released in 2020 allotted $9.3 billion for high-speed long-range strike and missile defense, including hypersonic development, test and evaluation. The Pentagon is also investing billions of dollars in its hypersonics portfolio.

Faist declined to say how much funding the two sides are allocating for SCIFiRE specifically, but noted that it will be a “larger budget” R&D effort.

There is also an intention to pursue co-production of the systems, which could help drive down costs.

When might the new weapons be battle ready?

“I expect over the next few months as we share our technical data we’ll have a better sense of how quickly we’ll be able to get to fielding, but I’m not predicting long,” Roper told reporters in December.

“Scramjet [propulsion technology development] is moving faster than I expected,” Roper said. “I predicted it would take longer to get those hypersonic engines matured. And thanks to some stellar approaches to manufacturing, the acceleration period is compelling us to go ahead and start thinking through future programs of record.”

The ARRW program started in 2017, and production could kick off as early as 2021, he noted. “I think we can go just as fast on scramjet.”

Faist said flight testing will be completed by 2025, but officials hope to accelerate that timeline.

For Australia, “the aim is to get this sort of capability operational in this decade, because this is the decade of danger where we are going to face the greatest risks from China,” Davis said.

It’s possible that a new weapon could be ready in the next few years, he said.

“We’ve been doing this research now for some time in the university sector,” he noted. “We’ve got that deep background, that foundation of scientific research and development and understanding, and I think that should hopefully accelerate the process of them taking that from essentially a science experiment to an operational piece of capability much more quickly than if we were starting afresh now.”

Steps are being taken to help the technology make it across the so-called “Valley of Death” between R&D and large-scale production.

Faist said there is a commitment by both nations to transition to a program of record if the project is successful.

Although Faist’s office launched the Allied Prototyping Initiative, the Air Force’s Life Cycle Management Center and program executive officer for weapons are responsible for executing SCIFiRE. The same office will also be responsible for overseeing the follow-on effort once the prototyping and flight testing wrap up, Faist noted.

“That was the other part of the decision on where to do this program,” he said. “It made sense to really build up on the Air Force program management side the internal ability to manage and execute on SCIFiRE, so that then the same team can move out on the program of record.”

Faist said source selection for SCIFiRE had not been completed, but generally speaking the Pentagon would like to have multiple suppliers. A follow-on program of record would be re-competed, he noted.

The weapons will likely be purchased in large quantities on par with other tactical air-launched cruise missiles, Faist said.

“Typically you’re going to get a higher number of production buys on these because of affordability,” he said. “This is a big game-changer for a lot of providers to get into the hypersonic business area, whether as a prime or a supplier.”

The Growing Australian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Australia, US to develop hypersonic missiles to counter China

Australia’s defence minister says ‘game-changing’ project with US will help deter aggression against its interests.

Australia and the United States will jointly develop hypersonic cruise missiles, the Australian defence minister announced on Tuesday, pledging to invest in “advanced capabilities” that will give the country’s military “more options to deter aggression” against its interests.

Both China and Russia are developing similar missiles.

The weapons are capable of travelling at more than five times the speed of sound and the combination of speed, manoeuvrability and altitude makes them difficult to track and intercept.

Linda Reynolds, the Australian defence minister, called the bilateral project with the US a “game-changing capability”, but did not reveal the cost of developing the missiles or when they would be operational.

“Investing in capabilities that deter actions against Australia also benefits our region, our allies and our security partners,” she said.

“We remain committed to peace and stability in the region and an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”

The United States’ Acting Under Secretary of Defense Michael Kratsios said the project, officially known as the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE), builds on 15 years of collaboration between the US and Australian military.

“This initiative will be essential to the future of hypersonic research and development, ensuring the US and our allies lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability,” he said in a statement.

 

Australia had set aside up to 9.3 billion Australian dollars ($6.8bn) this year for high-speed, long-range missile defence systems, including hypersonic research.

In July, Australia said it would boost defence spending by 40 percent over the next 10 years to acquire longer-range strike capabilities across air, sea and land as it broadens its military focus from the Pacific to the Indo-Pacific region.

 

Australia’s collaboration with the US on missile development, however, could inflame tensions with China.

The relationship between both countries has been tense after Australia discovered what it said were Chinese influence campaigns, and has deteriorated further this year after Canberra asked for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 pandemic.

Beijing has introduced a string of economic sanctions on Australian goods, and relations hit a new low on Monday after a senior Chinese official posted a fake image of an Australian soldier holding a blood-covered knife to the throat of an Afghan child.

China has deployed, or is close to deploying, hypersonic systems armed with conventional warheads, according to defence analysts.

Russia deployed its first hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles last year, while the Pentagon, which tested a similar hypersonic missile in 2017, has a goal of fielding hypersonic war-fighting capabilities in the early to mid-2020s.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said on Tuesday that Australia hopes to begin testing prototypes of the air-launched, long-range missiles within months.

The hypersonic missiles will be designed to be carried by the Australian air force’s existing fleet of aircraft including Growlers, Super Hornets, Joint Strike Fighters as well as unmanned aircraft including drones, the newspaper reported.

The Australian nuclear horn: Daniel 7

315 nuclear bombs and ongoing suffering: the shameful history of nuclear testing in Australia and the Pacific

November 2, 2020 2.07pm EST

AP/AAP

November 2, 2020 2.07pm EST

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware this article contains the name of a deceased person.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons received its 50th ratification on October 24, and will therefore come into force in January 2021. A historic development, this new international law will ban the possession, development, testing, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately the nuclear powers — the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea — haven’t signed on to the treaty. As such, they are not immediately obliged to help victims and remediate contaminated environments, but others party to the treaty do have these obligations. The shifting norms around this will hopefully put ongoing pressure on nuclear testing countries to open records and to cooperate with accountability measures.

For the people of the Pacific region, particularly those who bore the brunt of nuclear weapons testing during the 20th century, it will bring a new opportunity for their voices to be heard on the long-term costs of nuclear violence. The treaty is the first to enshrine enduring commitments to addressing their needs.

From 1946, around 315 nuclear tests were carried out in the Pacific by the US, Britain and France. These nations’ largest ever nuclear tests took place on colonised lands and oceans, from Australia to the Marshall Islands, Kiribati to French Polynesia.

The impacts of these tests are still being felt today.

All nuclear tests cause harm

Studies of nuclear test workers and exposed nearby communities around the world consistently show adverse health effects, especially increased risks of cancer.

The total number of global cancer deaths as a result of atmospheric nuclear test explosions has been estimated at between 2 million and 2.4 million, even though these studies used radiation risk estimates that are now dated and likely underestimated the risk.

The number of additional non-fatal cancer cases caused by test explosions is similar. As confirmed in a large recent study of nuclear industry workers in France, the UK and US, the numbers of radiation-related deaths due to other diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, is also likely to be similar.

The British conducted seven nuclear test explosions in Maralinga, South Australia. But there they also did over 600 ‘minor’ trials for bomb development, responsible for most of the ongoing contamination. NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AUSTRALIA/AAP

‘We all got crook’

Britain conducted 12 nuclear test explosions in Australia between 1952 and 1957, and hundreds of minor trials of radioactive and toxic materials for bomb development up to 1963. These caused untold health problems for local Aboriginal people who were at the highest risk of radiation. Many of them were not properly evacuated, and some were not informed at all.

We may never know the full impact of these explosions because in many cases, as the Royal Commission report on British Nuclear Tests in Australia found in 1985: “the resources allocated for Aboriginal welfare and safety were ludicrous, amounting to nothing more than a token gesture”. But we can listen to the survivors.

The late Yami Lester directly experienced the impacts of nuclear weapons. A Yankunytjatjara elder from South Australia, Yami was a child when the British tested at Emu Field in October 1953. He recalled the “Black Mist” after the bomb blast:

It wasn’t long after that a black smoke came through. A strange black smoke, it was shiny and oily. A few hours later we all got crook, every one of us. We were all vomiting; we had diarrhoea, skin rashes and sore eyes. I had really sore eyes. They were so sore I couldn’t open them for two or three weeks. Some of the older people, they died. They were too weak to survive all the sickness. The closest clinic was 400 miles away.

His daughter, Karina Lester, is an ambassador for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in Australia, and continues to be driven by her family’s experience. She writes:

For decades now my family have campaigned and spoken up against the harms of nuclear weapons because of their firsthand experience of the British nuclear tests […] Many Aboriginal people suffered from the British nuclear tests that took place in the 1950s and 1960s and many are still suffering from the impacts today.

More than 16,000 Australian workers were also exposed. A key government-funded study belatedly followed these veterans over an 18-year period from 1982. Despite the difficulties of conducting a study decades later with incomplete data, it found they had 23% higher rates of cancer and 18% more deaths from cancers than the general population.

An additional health impact in Pacific island countries is the toxic disease “ciguatera”, caused by certain microscopic plankton at the base of the marine food chain, which thrive on damaged coral. Their toxins concentrate up the food chain, especially in fish, and cause illness and occasional deaths in people who eat them. In the Marshall Islands, Kiritimati and French Polynesia, outbreaks of the disease among locals have been associated with coral damage caused by nuclear test explosions and the extensive military and shipping infrastructure supporting them.

Pacific survivors of nuclear testing haven’t been focused solely on addressing their own considerable needs for justice and care; they’ve been powerful advocates that no one should suffer as they have ever again, and have worked tirelessly for the eradication of nuclear weapons. It’s no surprise independent Pacific island nations are strong supporters of the new treaty, accounting for ten of the first 50 ratifications.

Pacific island nations make up 10 of the first 50 countries to ratify the treaty. Laisa Nainoka/Youngsolwara, Author provided (No reuse)

Negligence and little accountability

Some nations that have undertaken nuclear tests have provided some care and compensation for their nuclear test workers; only the US has made some provisions for people exposed, though only for mainland US residents downwind of the Nevada Test Site. No testing nation has extended any such arrangement beyond its own shores to the colonised and minority peoples it put in harm’s way. Nor has any testing nation made fully publicly available its records of the history, conduct and effects of its nuclear tests on exposed populations and the environment.

These nations have also been negligent by quickly abandoning former test sites. There has been inadequate clean-up and little or none of the long-term environmental monitoring needed to detect radioactive leakage from underground test sites into groundwater, soil and air. One example among many is the Runit concrete dome in the Marshall Islands, which holds nuclear waste from US testing in the 1940s and 50s. It’s increasingly inundated by rising sea levels, and is leaking radioactive material.

Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands is leaking nuclear waste from US testing in the 1940s and 50s. US Defense Special Weapons Agency/Wikimedia Commons

The treaty provides a light in a dark time. It contains the only internationally agreed framework for all nations to verifiably eliminate nuclear weapons.

It’s our fervent hope the treaty will mark the increasingly urgent beginning of the end of nuclear weapons. It is our determined expectation that our country will step up. Australia has not yet ratified the treaty, but the bitter legacy of nuclear testing across our country and region should spur us to join this new global effort.

The Chinese nuclear horn uses Australia (Daniel 7)

Chinese Regime Using Australian Scientists in Quest for Tech, Military Dominance

AUSTRALIA

Chinese Regime Using Australian Scientists in Quest for Tech, Military Dominance

August 28, 2020 20:52, Last Updated: August 28, 2020 20:52

By Victoria Kelly-Clark

CANBERRA—A new report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) shows how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been using illegal and underhanded methods to obtain research and technology from around the globe in its quest to become the world’s preeminent military power.

Official statistics show China recruited around 60,000 overseas scientists, academics, entrepreneurs and researchers between 2008 and 2016 using more than 200 overseas talent recruitment programs and at least 600 CCP overseas talent-recruitment stations, noted Alex Joske, the author of the ASPI report, Hunting the Phoenix.

The report explains how the CCP under the guise of reversing China’s brain-drain recruited thousands of overseas scientists, including western academics and entrepreneurs in overseas talent recruitment programs such as the Thousand Talents Plan.

“The CCP views technological development as fundamental to its ambitions. Its goal isn’t to achieve parity with other countries, but dominance and primacy,” Joske wrote.

ASPI singled out the United States as having the highest number of CCP talent-recruitment stations—146 of them. Australia and Germany have the second-highest number of CCP talent-recruitment stations, with the two countries having 57 stations each.

The organisations running recruitment stations can receive as much as ¥200,000 (A$40,000) for each person they recruit, and as much as ¥150,000 (A$30,000) a year for general operation costs, the report stated.

Many recruits are given bountiful research funding and even new laboratories in a Chinese university and team of research staff.

Under the terms of the programs contract, the Chinese government owns the copyright of any research, inventions, patents or other intellectual properties produced by the academic for the duration of the agreement.

“The CCP treats talent recruitment as a form of technology transfer,” Joske stated in the report, noting that participants in the programs often collaborate on dual-use technologies with Chinese institutions that are closely linked to the CCP-led military People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

According to Joske, China views the talent-recruitment schemes like the Thousand Talents Program as the answer to its push to dominate future technologies and revive its military.

“The deepening of ‘military-civil fusion’ (a CCP policy of leveraging the civilian sector to maximize military power) means that China’s research institutes and universities are increasingly involved in classified defence research, including the development of nuclear weapons,” the report said.

Clive Hamilton, an author and professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, Australia, noted last year in The Conversation that several G8 universities including the University of New South Wales, University of Technology Sydney, and the Australian National University, have had multiple scholars and joint programs with civil-military organizations.

Of concern to both Joske and Hamilton has been the engagements with Chinese state-owned defence conglomerate China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) which specializes in developing military electronics, drone swarms and radar system.

A report by the Jamestown Foundation, notes that CETC openly declares that its purpose is “leveraging civilian electronics for the gain of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) and a majority of its products and services are destined for state and military customers.”

Currently, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has signed a $10 million partnership with the CETC to develop AI, Quantum Computing and Big Data technologies.

Joske also details in his report how one Australian university scientist set up a laboratory and an artificial intelligence (AI) company in China through funding from a CCP talent-recruitment station. The company later supplied surveillance technology to CCP authorities in Xinjiang.

Surveillance Tech Used to Aid Human Rights Abuses

Amnesty International has identified the Xinjiang province of China as a hotbed for human rights abuses since the CCP initiated an anti-religious re-education campaign on the regions indigenous Islamic Turkic inhabitants, including Uyghurs, ethnic Uzbeks, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz.

Reports from Uyghurs in Xinjiang show that those interred in the camps are subjected to forced political indoctrination, forced sterilization of women, torture, and forced labour. Experts from the Council on Foreign Relations argue this has been made possible by the CCP’s ability to turn Xinjiang into a surveillance state that relies on cutting-edge technology to monitor millions of people.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Aug. 27  that the government would be legislating a new Foreign Relations Bill aimed at providing the federal government with the power to view and veto agreements between foreign governments and Australia’s state, territories and institutions.

Speaking on Radio 2SM on Aug 28 Morrison said that the new bill would give the government the ability to stop foreign entities chipping away at the government foreign policy that will protect and promote Australian national interest.

“When people elect a federal government, they elect it to look after our relationships with the rest of the world. They don’t elect state governments to do that or local Governments or universities to do that, they elect the federal government to do that. So this just make sure that everybody is heading in the same direction and can’t be picked off,” said Morrison.

Why Australia Will Go Nuclear (Daniel 7)

Defence update signals Australia’s waning faith in US extended deterrence | The Strategist

Rod Lyon

Australia’s defence strategic update is not recommended reading for the faint-hearted. It depicts a starkly divided world in which the prospects of conflict are growing. In this post, I’ll explore only one small part of the document, namely paragraph 2.22. It contains only three sentences. But those sentences carry weighty implications.

Let’s begin with the paragraph itself:

Only the nuclear and conventional capabilities of the United States can offer effective deterrence against the possibility of nuclear threats against Australia. But it is the Government’s intent that Australia take greater responsibility for our own security. It is therefore essential that the ADF grow its self-reliant ability to deliver deterrent effects.

If the first sentence sparks a sense of déjà vu, that’s because readers have—probably—seen it before. It’s a sentence lifted from the 2016 defence white paper. There it was part of paragraph 5.20, outlining the benefits which flowed to Australia from its close association with the US:

Australia’s security is underpinned by the ANZUS Treaty, United States extended deterrence and access to advanced United States technology and information. Only the nuclear and conventional military capabilities of the United States can offer effective deterrence against the possibility of nuclear threats against Australia. The presence of United States military forces plays a vital role in ensuring security across the Indo-Pacific and the global strategic and economic weight of the United States will be essential to the continued effective functioning of the rules-based global order. [Emphasis added.]

In its 2016 role, the sentence underlined the contribution made to Australia’s security by US extended nuclear deterrence.

The 2013 defence white paper, released by the Gillard Labor government, contained a similar reference, although not in exactly the same terms. Paragraph 3.41 of that document reads:

Finally, as long as nuclear weapons exist, we rely on the nuclear forces of the United States to deter nuclear attack on Australia. Australia is confident in the continuing viability of extended nuclear deterrence under the Alliance, while strongly supporting ongoing efforts towards global nuclear disarmament.

Similarly, the Rudd government’s 2009 defence white paper made clear the importance of US extended nuclear deterrence—and of its possible failure. See paragraph 6.34:

It also means that, for so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are able to rely on the nuclear forces of the United States to deter nuclear attack on Australia. Australian defence policy under successive governments has acknowledged the value to Australia of the protection afforded by extended nuclear deterrence under the US alliance. That protection provides a stable and reliable sense of assurance and has over the years removed the need for Australia to consider more significant and expensive defence options.

So the first sentence of paragraph 2.22 of the 2020 update seems to stand duty as a reference point for a long tradition of Australian acknowledgement of the importance to Australia of US extended deterrence. Remember the metric involved here: what offers ‘effective deterrence against the possibility of nuclear threats against Australia’? Unsurprisingly, only US conventional and nuclear capabilities offer such an assurance. So at this point the reader of the update might reasonably expect a form of words underlining the growing importance of US extended deterrence in more difficult times. Right?

Wrong. There’s nothing in the update about US extended deterrence—which is hard to interpret as anything other than signalling by omission. The update, in short, suggests a loss of faith in US extended deterrence among Australian policymakers. We might speculate about the causes of that. President Donald Trump’s eccentricities have undoubtedly been aggravated by a longer-term shifting global balance. But what matters is the outcome. In a document freighted with growing threats, extended deterrence is horribly absent.

Indeed, let’s go back to paragraph 2.22. The second and third sentences head off in a different direction. The second sentence even begins with the word ‘but’, one of those conjunctions that ties the subsequent thoughts to the previous judgement:

But it is the Government’s intent that Australia take greater responsibility for our own security. It is therefore essential that the ADF grow its self-reliant ability to deliver deterrent effects.

It’s hard to read those sentences as anything other than a claim for greater self-reliance in the deterrence of nuclear threats against Australia. Further, it’s hard to accept that the government believes that an Australia armed solely with conventional weapons can deter an adversarial nuclear-armed great power. After all, it has just said it doesn’t believe that even a US armed solely with conventional weapons can deter such threats: go back and read the first sentence again.

What’s the conclusion? A simple—and tempting—conclusion is that either there’s been some grievous infelicities of meaning in the drafting process, or the update is an attempt to signal the possibility of a future nuclear-armed Australia. But that conclusion places a great deal of weight on three sentences, and on what they don’t say as much as on what they do. The premise of a future Australian nuclear arsenal shouldn’t be based on words that aren’t there.

I suspect something more complex is happening. An Australian government, busily revalidating both the importance of deterrence in national strategic thinking, and the importance of offensive strike to deterrence, is probably arguing here that improving conventional technologies, allied to more capable missile defences, do offer some prospects for offsetting nuclear threats.

That’s a challenging argument to unpack—especially in circumstances where we’re uncertain about how much we can rely on US assistance. Still, those complexities seem to offer a more credible explanation for paragraph 2.22 than the simple, tempting one.

India and China Go To War

20 Indian Soldiers Killed; 43 Chinese Casualties: ANI

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a “violent face-off” with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, the army said on Tuesday, in the most serious escalation between the two countries along the border in five decades. News agency ANI claimed that sources had confirmed 43 Chinese soldiers have been killed or seriously injured because of intercepts, though the army’s statement did not refer to this. A statement on Tuesday confirmed the death of a Colonel and two jawans spoke of “casualties on both sides”. India blamed the clashes on “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there”, rebutting China’s claims that Indian soldiers crossed the border.

Here are the top developments in this big story:

Colonel B Santosh Babu of the Bihar regiment, Havildar Palani and Sepoy Ojha laid down their lives for India, the army confirmed earlier on Tuesday. “17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries. Indian Army is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation,” the army’s fresh statement said tonight.

The statement opened by saying Indian and Chinese troops “have disengaged” at the Galwan area where they earlier clashed on the night of June 15/16, indicating that they do not expect any fresh violence in the area.

India said the clash arose from “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo” on the border. “India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control. We expect the same of the Chinese side,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava.

The clash took place just as Chinese troops were getting ready to move away from a location per an agreement that was part of recent talks between the two sides to defuse tension. The Colonel was reportedly assaulted with stones and Indian soldiers retaliated, which led to close unarmed combat for several hours. The soldiers disengaged after midnight.

Beijing, in an aggressive statement, accused India of crossing the border, “attacking Chinese personnel”. China’s Foreign Ministry was quoted by Reuters as saying India should not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble.

The only admission of casualties on the Chinese side came from the editor of their government mouthpiece Global Times. “Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don’t be arrogant and misread China’s restraint as being weak. China doesn’t want to have a clash with India, but we don’t fear it,” tweeted Hu Xijin, Editor-in-Chief of Global Times.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held meetings with Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met with military chiefs twice as India discussed a response to the escalation.

For more than six weeks, soldiers from both sides have been engaged in a stand-off on at least two locations along the Line of Actual Control — the 3,488 km de-facto boundary between India and China, and rushed additional troops to the border. They have been facing each other at the Galwan River, which was one of the early triggers of the 1962 India-China war, and at the Pangong Tso — a glacial lake at 14,000 feet in the Tibetan plateau.

As part of the talks to defuse tension, the Chinese Army pulled back its troops from the Galwan valley, PP-15 and Hot Springs. The Indian side also brought back some of its troops and vehicles from these areas.

AFP quoted Indian sources and news reports as suggesting that Chinese troops remained in parts of the Galwan Valley and of the northern shore of the Pangong Tso lake, which caused the clash. China has been upset about the Indian construction of roads and air strips in the area, say diplomats. The government has pushed for improving connectivity and by 2022, 66 key roads along the Chinese border will have been built. One of these roads is near the Galwan valley that connects to Daulat Beg Oldi air base, which was inaugurated last October.

The Growing Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

China boosts its nuclear arsenal as world’s stockpile shrinks

China, India and Pakistan are modernising their weapons while Russia and the US shed old nuclear arms, say monitors

New threats such as chemical and biological weapons emerge, adding to global instability, finds peace research institute

Kristin Huang

Published: 7:30pm, 15 Jun, 2020

Updated: 10:25pm, 15 Jun, 2020

China is one of the six countries that increased its nuclear arsenal in the past year, adding 30 warheads since a 2019 tally, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Monday.

The five other countries were India, Britain, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, the report said, but all increased by fewer than 20 warheads.

“China is in the middle of a significant modernisation and expansion of its arsenal, and India and Pakistan are also thought to be increasing the size of their nuclear arsenals,” the report said.

In China, military vehicles carrying DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles pass Tiananmen Square in October, 2019. Photo: Reuters

Despite six countries having increased the number of their nuclear warheads, global inventories continue to decline, according to the report. This is mainly because the owners of the two largest arsenals – Russia and the United States – have decreased their number of warheads, mostly to dismantle retired stocks.

“At the same time, both the USA and Russia have extensive and expensive programmes under way to replace and modernise their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities,” the report said.

The US has 1,750 deployed warheads – placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces – and 4,050 reserve warheads or retired warheads awaiting dismantlement. Russia has 1,570 deployed warheads and 4,805 warheads either stored or to be dismantled.

At the start of 2020, nine states – the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – had an estimated total of 13,400 nuclear weapons, of which 3,720 were deployed with operational forces. About 1,800 of these were kept in a state of high operational alert, the report said.

India is capable of striking anywhere in China with a nuclear warhead, India’s government has said. Photo: Universalashic

Though six countries had increased their stocks, the combined number of their nuclear warheads was little more than 2,000, less than one-third of Russia’s total stockpile.

Outside nuclear armaments, new threats such as chemical and biological weapons kept emerging, making the world less stable than before, according to the report.

The report also warned of an arms race in outer space. Since 2017, the US has notably declared space to be a domain of war or an area for both offensive and defensive military operations, and France, India and Japan have followed the American lead by announcing dedicating military space units.

The SIPRI report comes after US President Donald Trump’s officials in May discussed conducting the first US nuclear test since 1992.

Zhou Chenming, a military expert based in Beijing, said the changes in the world’s military build-up signalled an increasingly precarious balance of peace.

“Many countries are now developing their own anti-missile systems that protect countries from being hit by a nuclear warhead, but once the systems are highly developed, it will lead to military adventurism – some countries might take the initiative to attack other nations – and make the world even more dangerous,” Zhou said.

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The Rise of the Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

NATO must pay attention to China, Stoltenberg says

The head of the military alliance has urged the West not to ignore China’s growing military might. He says Beijing’s expanding stockpile of nuclear weapons capable of reaching Europe, demands a stronger response.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Saturday that China’s increasing influence had created a “fundamental shift in the global balance of power” that should not be overlooked. 

In an interview with Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper, that was released in advance, the Norwegian official said that Beijing had the second-largest defense budget in the world after the United States, and was investing heavily in nuclear weapons and long-range missiles that could reach Europe.

“One thing is clear: China is coming ever closer to Europe’s doorstep,” he said. “NATO allies must face this challenge together.”

Read more: China unveils plans to step up military power

New opportunities, new challenges

NATO’s mission has expanded since its creation in 1949 as a counterweight to the power of the Soviet Union. Its security remit is limited to North America and Europe, but the military alliance has also acknowledged that China’s rise posed new challenges.

Stoltenberg stressed that no member country was “directly” threatened by the Asian powerhouse, but he did flag several concerns, which he said required a strong NATO response.

He noted Beijing was investing heavily in European infrastructure and cyberspace, as well as expanding its presence in Africa, the Arctic and the Mediterranean.

China has also increasingly sought to boost its claims over parts of the South China Sea, in some cases by hindering ships traveling there in international waters.

Stoltenberg said he found developments in the sea worrying, calling on Beijing to respect international shipping rules, but added that there was no reason to send NATO troops to the region. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said earlier this week that China does not pose a threat to any country. “We hope that NATO can continue to hold a correct opinion about us and view our development rationally,” she said.

nm/mm (dpa, AFP, Reuters)