The Australian Nuclear Horn Challenges China: Daniel 7

Nuclear subs in Australia will challenge the nonproliferation regime, and China

Nuclear subs in Australia will challenge the nonproliferation regime, and China

By George M. Moore and Frank N. von Hippel, Opinion ContributorsSeptember 22, 2021 – 03:00 PM EDT

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill 

President Biden and the prime ministers of Australia and the United Kingdom announced on Sept. 15, as the first action in their new AUKUS defense agreement, the sale to Australia of nuclear submarine technology to replace an existing Australian deal with France for conventional submarines. The plan is to build the submarines in Australia with assistance, and perhaps components, from the UK and U.S.

The announcement surprised many, including the French government, whose foreign minister referred to the decision as a “stab in the back.”

The Biden administration has touted the agreement as a counter to growing Chinese naval intimidation of Australia and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region. It appears likely, however, that any beneficial impacts on China will be offset by negative impacts on the nuclear weapons nonproliferation regime. Other non-nuclear-armed states, such as South Korea and Iran, are likely to be incentivized to acquire nuclear-powered attack submarines from the U.S. and UK, or perhaps Russia or China. 

The AUKUS deal is especially problematic because U.S. and UK nuclear-powered submarines use weapon-grade highly-enriched uranium (HEU) as fuel. An obvious presumption therefore is that the Australian submarines too will be fueled with HEU drawn from the U.S. Cold War surplus. 

It is hard to understate what a departure the Australian plan is from prior U.S. policy. In the 1980s, the U.S. pressured France and the UK not to supply nuclear-powered submarines to Canada due to the perceived negative impact on the nonproliferation regime. U.S. nonproliferation policy has also had a bedrock principle of reducing the global availability and use of HEU. It would be folly for the U.S. to now export weapon-grade uranium to non-nuclear-armed states after spending more than a billion dollars since 9/11 to convert research reactors that the U.S. and the Soviet Union had exported to dozens of countries from weapon-grade to low enriched uranium fuel.

Since Australia does not have a commercial nuclear power program (it does have a research reactor) and no military support facilities for nuclear-powered vessels at this point, it will probably have to rely initially on the U.S. or UK for both personnel training and support for nuclear infrastructure development. Given the strong historic relation between the Royal Australian Navy and UK’s Royal Navy, the UK might provide initial training for submarine cadres to man the new Australian nuclear submarine force. 

The ultimate creation of a nuclear submarine force in Australia will take decades. Therefore, Australia might follow India’s model and start by renting a nuclear submarine from either the U.S. or UK. India rented two submarines: The first from the Soviet Union and then a second from Russia, before building its own nuclear submarine, whose design appears to be based to a significant degree on its second leased submarine. Acquiring a U.S. or UK submarine, possibly with a joint crew, could be a big first step forward for an Australian nuclear submarine program.

If the AUKUS plan goes forward, a significant question is whether the proliferation risks associated with HEU could be reduced by developing propulsion reactors fueled with non-weapon-usable low-enriched-uranium (LEU). France and China already use LEU to fuel their naval reactors. Russia and India use HEU fuel, although not weapon-grade.

Despite encouragement from Congress over the past 25 years, the U.S. Navy has vehemently rejected designing its future submarines to be powered by LEU. The principal argument is that the reactor core would have to be larger or would have to be refueled once or twice. The U.S. Navy’s current reactors are designed to be life-of-the-ship, which the Navy considers to be a significant cost and time savings. U.S. refueling cycles have kept U.S. submarines in shipyards for over a year to carry out refuelings, although France has developed robotic refueling arrangements through hatches that have reduced that time to a few weeks.

After the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile peaked in 1964, the U.S. continued to produce weapon-grade uranium for naval reactor fuel until 1992. For the past two decades, U.S. and UK submarines have been fueled with HEU from more than 10,000 U.S. nuclear warheads that became excess at the end of the Cold War. This source will run out by around 2060. In order to maintain HEU fueled submarines and aircraft carriers, the U.S. will soon need to study and fund a very expensive new facility to produce HEU. Providing HEU fuel for Australia will accelerate the need for a new facility.

The Biden administration could also look at the Australian development program as an additional motivation to shift U.S. submarines and aircraft carriers to LEU fuel. That would avoid the need for the U.S. setting the dangerous example of developing a new HEU production facility after the existing supply is used up. Australia, France, the U.S. and UK could also work with the International Atomic Energy Agency to deal with the safeguard issues that arise from the military use of nuclear reactors in non-nuclear-weapon states. That too would be made much easier if the submarines were fueled with low-enriched uranium.

Should there be interest in the Biden administration to patch things up with France, it might explore bringing France back into the Australian submarine program to provide its expertise on LEU-fueled submarines. 

George M. Moore is a scientist-in-residence at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. He was previously a staff member at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and was a senior analyst at the International Atomic Energy Agency.Frank N. von Hippel, a nuclear physicist, is professor of public and international affairs emeritus in Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.

The AUKUS treaty is a repeat of the 20th century Arms Race: Daniel

Op-Ed: Is the AUKUS treaty a repeat of the 20th century Arms Race?

Op-Ed: Is the AUKUS treaty a repeat of the 20th century Arms Race?

September 22, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden, and more attend the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall on June 12, 2021. 

When I was a young child, our next-door neighbor built a fallout shelter the size of a small garage in the confines of his backyard. He did this at the height of the Cold War and one year after the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

My parents thought he was nuts, and at first, I didn’t know what to think about it. But I was told by his son—one of my childhood friends—that when the bombs fell, his family would be safe and mine would perish in flames and radiation.

At school, we went through “duck and cover drills” or “disaster drills” where, when a loud horn blasted through our elementary school, we would walk into the hall, line up single-file against a wall, sit, cross our legs, put our heads down between our knees (presumably to kiss our backsides goodbye) and wait for an “all clear” to signal, which meant we could then get up and return to class.

We were told this would protect us in case of a nuclear bomb, so I was highly suspicious of the “fallout shelter” our neighbor built. If sitting quietly in the hall next to a wall would protect me, I suspected the “fallout shelter” served another purpose. After awhile, I concluded it was just where my friend’s dad hid his liquor from his Baptist wife who preached against the stuff.

Those were crazy times marked by the Vietnam War, the space race, racial unrest, a GOP hellbent on destroying the Constitution, war mongers, peaceniks, hippies, yippies, protests, and some great rock n’ roll.

Today, the music isn’t as good, and we’ve traded the Soviet Union—according to some—for China, but some say President Joe Biden is sparking another arms race like that of the 60s. His newly announced defense pact with Britain and Australia will allow the Australians to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.

The “AUKUS” treaty was announced Sept. 15 by Biden, along with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“But let me be clear: Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability,” said Morrison. “And we will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations.”

The BBC reported it this way: “The AUKUS pact, which will also cover AI and other technologies, is one of the countries’ biggest defense partnerships in decades, analysts say. China has condemned the agreement as ‘extremely irresponsible.’”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race,” while China’s embassy in Washington accused the three countries of a “Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice.”

Speaking to the BBC, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said China was embarking on one of the biggest military expenditures in history.

“It is growing its navy [and] air force at a huge rate. Obviously it is engaged in some disputed areas,” he said. “Our partners in those regions want to be able to stand their own ground.”

David Ignatius, writing in a Washington Postopinion piece, said: “French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced the AUKUS plan as a bilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision,” and he accused Australia of a ‘knife in the back’ in canceling the $66 billion contract. Behind this indignation were some deeper themes: France’s historic rivalry with the ‘Anglo-Saxons,’ a desire for greater weight as a global power, post-Brexit antipathy toward Johnson, and chagrin over losing a lucrative commercial deal.”

Facing pandemics, climate change, economic disaster and the rise of fascism, what’s left of the civilized world fears we now are plunging headlong into what amounts to global suicide.

Biden is a man of his word, and anyone who doubted this simply didn’t listen to his inaugural address or the first speech he made Feb. 4 at the State Department:

“American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China,” Biden said.

True, the indication was we had to stand up to the economic problems posed by Chinese aggression, and many analysts say that military might is being replaced by economic prowess, and that China’s main threat is its large workforce which is capable of economic hegemony. According to some, the best way to combat China is to attack their many attempts to undermine capitalism with renewed economic sanctions.

But in recent years, Beijing has also been accused of raising tensions in disputed territories like the South China Sea, and Biden has no problem flexing the US military muscle when needed. He told us as he pulled us out of Afghanistan that there were other, more acute, military problems around the world. He just identified one and moved on it.

“We’ll confront China’s economic abuses,” Biden told us in February. “But we are ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so. We will compete from a position of strength by building back better at home, working with our allies and partners, renewing our role in international institutions, and reclaiming our credibility and moral authority, much of which has been lost.”

There has been little fanfare and not much clarity from the Biden administration about other actions taken against China, at least nothing as dramatic as the new, strange-sounding alliance announced earlier this week that angered our allies and our enemies.

But give Biden time.

Not for one second do I believe he is plunging us into a new arms race. I do not foresee a sudden rise in the building of fallout shelters or “duck and cover” drills. Biden is merely reacting to events put into motion by China.

In a schoolyard brawl, it is often the reaction to the initial blow that is noticed and commented on the same in global politics as well.

In withdrawing from Afghanistan, Biden is merely the one to deal decisively with a problem that began several administrations ago. But building nuclear submarines isn’t going to fix the Chinese problem. It will, however, help a lot of military contractors—perhaps the same contractors who lost money when we left Afghanistan. But the bigger problem remains: How do you deal with the Chinese economic juggernaut?

“Building back better” is Biden’s theme, but the strategy to get there is far more difficult with the pandemic raging. And making our economy more competitive can’t include selling fallout shelters.

Where is the innovation to compete with authoritarianism? That’s the ultimate question when it comes to China.

The Russian Nuclear Horn Follows Biden and Nukes Up: Daniel 7

Alexei Druzhinin/AP

After AUKUS, Russia sees a potential threat — and an opportunity to market its own submarines

September 22, 2021 10.38pm EDT

The global opinions on the new AUKUS security pact between Australia, the US and the UK have been decidedly mixed. China and France immediately blasted the deal, while others, such as Japan and the Philippines, were more welcoming.

Russia, one of the other few nations armed with nuclear-powered submarines, was more low-key and cautious in its initial reaction.

The Kremlin limited its official commentaryto a carefully crafted statement that said,

Before forming a position, we must understand the goals, objectives, means. These questions need to be answered first. There is little information so far.

Some Russian diplomatic officials joined their Chinese counterparts in expressing their concerns that Australia’s development of nuclear-powered submarines (with American and British help) would undermine the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and “speed up an arms race” in the region. 

They suggested the construction of the nuclear submarine fleet would need to be overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency — a proposition unlikely to be acceptable to Canberra. 


Read more: Why nuclear submarines are a smart military move for Australia — and could deter China further

As more became known about the new security pact, the rhetoric of Kremlin officials began to shift. 

For instance, former Australian ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, boldly declaredAUKUS was intended to counter not only China’s power in the Indo-Pacific region, but Russia’s, too.

Soon after, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, was calling the pact a “prototype of an Asian NATO”. He added, 

Washington will try to involve other countries in this organisation, chiefly in order to pursue anti-China and anti-Russia policies

This change of rhetoric should not come as a surprise to Canberra. Russia has long considered any change to regional security — the creation of new alliances, for instance, or the deployment of new weapons systems — a military risk that would require a response. 

So, what possible options could Russia entertain as part of its response?

Since Moscow’s view of AUKUS is more of a political and military risk, but not yet a threat, its immediate responses are likely to be limited to political manoeuvring and opportunity grabbing. 

Perhaps most notably, Russia may see the AUKUS submarine deal as setting a precedent, allowing it to promote its own nuclear-submarine technology to interested parties in the region. This is not merely hypothetical — it has been suggested by defence experts with close links to Russia’s Ministry of Defence. 

Historically, Russia has held back from sharing its nuclear submarine technology, which is considered among the best in the world, certainly superior to China’s nascent capabilities.

Thus far, Moscow has only entered into leasing arrangements with India, allowing its navy to operate Soviet- and Russian-made nuclear-powered attack submarines since 1987. But this has not entailed the transfer of technology to India.

Should Russia decide to market its nuclear-powered submarines to other nations, it would have no shortage of interested buyers. As one military expert suggested, Vietnam or Algeria are potential markets — but there could be others. As he put it,

Literally before our eyes, a new market for nuclear powered submarines is being created. […] Now we can safely offer a number of our strategic partners. 

In the longer run, Russia will also not disregard the obvious: the new pact unites two nuclear-armed nations (the US and UK) and a soon-to-be-nuclear-capable Australia. 

The expanded endurance and range of Australia’s future submarines could see them operating in the western and northwestern Pacific, areas of regular activity for Russia’s naval force. 

A Russian Navy destroyer visiting the Philippines.
A Russian Navy destroyer visiting the Philippines in 2019. Bullit Marquez/AP

Should the strike systems on board these submarines have the Russian far east or parts of Siberia within their range, it would be a game-changer for Moscow.

As a nuclear superpower, Russia will need to factor this into its strategic planning. And this means Australia must keep a close watch on Russia’s military activities in the Pacific in the coming years.

Over the next 12 months, for instance, the Russian Pacific Fleet is expected to receive at least three nuclear-powered submarines. 

Two of these fourth-generation submarines (the Yasen-M class) are technologically superior to similar vessels currently being built by the Chinese and are believed to be almost comparable to the American nuclear submarines being considered an option for Australia. 

The third is a 30,000-tonne, modified Oscar II class Belgorod submarine converted to carry several nuclear super-torpedos capable of destroying major naval bases. 

By 2028, I estimate Russia’s navy will have a force of at least 14 nuclear-powered submarines and six conventional attack submarines in the Pacific. 

Should Russia start considering AUKUS a military threat, we could expect more to arrive. Their area of operations could also be expanded to the South China Sea, and beyond. 

In the most dramatic scenario, Russia and China could form a loose maritime coalition to counter the combined military power of the AUKUS pact.

Given the deepening state of Russia-China defence relations, particularly in the naval sphere, this does not seem unrealistic.


This possible coalition is unlikely to become an actual maritime alliance, let alone the basis for larger bloc involving other countries. Still, if Russia and China were to coordinate their naval activities, that would be bad news for the AUKUS. 

Should tensions escalate, Moscow and Beijing could see Australia as the weakest link of the pact. In its typical bombastic language, China’s Global Times newspaper has already referred to Australia as a “potential target for a nuclear strike”. 

This might be a far-fetched scenario, but by entering the nuclear submarine race in the Indo-Pacific, Australia would become part of an elite club, some of whom would be adversaries. And there is the potential for this to lead to a naval Cold War of sorts in the Indo-Pacific.

Sceptics may say Moscow is likely to be all talk but no action and the risks posed by Russia to Australia are minimal. Let’s hope this is correct.

The Saudi Nuclear Horn threatens Iran: Daniel

Saudi king Tells UN Kingdom Supports Efforts To Prevent Nuclear Iran

US Says Window Open For Iran Nuclear Talks But Won’t Be Forever

Thursday, 23 Sep 2021 20:38 

WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) – The window is still open to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but Tehran has yet to indicate whether it is willing to resume talks in Vienna or whether it would do so on the basis of where they left off in June, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

The official told reporters on condition of anonymity that Washington’s patience would not last forever but declined to set a deadline, saying this depended on technical progress in Iran’s nuclear program and a wider judgment by the United States and its partners on whether Iran was willing to revive the deal.

“We’re still interested. We still want to come back to the table,” the senior U.S. State Department official said in a telephone briefing. “The window of opportunity is open. It won’t be open forever if Iran takes a different course.”

Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its uranium enrichment program, a possible pathway to nuclear arms, in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. Former President Donald Trump quit the deal three years ago and re-imposed harsh sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors that have crippled its economy, prompting Iran to take steps to violate its nuclear limits.

The U.S. official declined to say what the United States might do if Iran refuses to return to negotiations, or if a resumption of the original deal proves impossible. Such U.S. contingency planning is often referred to as “Plan B.”

“The ‘Plan B’ that we’re concerned about is the one that Iran may be contemplating, where they want to continue to build their nuclear program and not be seriously engaged in talks to return to the JCPOA,” he said, in a reference to the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The Australian Nuclear Horn will challenge the nonproliferation regime, and China: Daniel 7

Nuclear subs in Australia will challenge the nonproliferation regime, and China

Nuclear subs in Australia will challenge the nonproliferation regime, and China

By George M. Moore and Frank N. von Hippel, Opinion ContributorsSeptember 22, 2021 – 03:00 PM EDT

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill 

President Biden and the prime ministers of Australia and the United Kingdom announced on Sept. 15, as the first action in their new AUKUS defense agreement, the sale to Australia of nuclear submarine technology to replace an existing Australian deal with France for conventional submarines. The plan is to build the submarines in Australia with assistance, and perhaps components, from the UK and U.S.

The announcement surprised many, including the French government, whose foreign minister referred to the decision as a “stab in the back.”

The Biden administration has touted the agreement as a counter to growing Chinese naval intimidation of Australia and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region. It appears likely, however, that any beneficial impacts on China will be offset by negative impacts on the nuclear weapons nonproliferation regime. Other non-nuclear-armed states, such as South Korea and Iran, are likely to be incentivized to acquire nuclear-powered attack submarines from the U.S. and UK, or perhaps Russia or China. 

The AUKUS deal is especially problematic because U.S. and UK nuclear-powered submarines use weapon-grade highly-enriched uranium (HEU) as fuel. An obvious presumption therefore is that the Australian submarines too will be fueled with HEU drawn from the U.S. Cold War surplus. 

It is hard to understate what a departure the Australian plan is from prior U.S. policy. In the 1980s, the U.S. pressured France and the UK not to supply nuclear-powered submarines to Canada due to the perceived negative impact on the nonproliferation regime. U.S. nonproliferation policy has also had a bedrock principle of reducing the global availability and use of HEU. It would be folly for the U.S. to now export weapon-grade uranium to non-nuclear-armed states after spending more than a billion dollars since 9/11 to convert research reactors that the U.S. and the Soviet Union had exported to dozens of countries from weapon-grade to low enriched uranium fuel.

Since Australia does not have a commercial nuclear power program (it does have a research reactor) and no military support facilities for nuclear-powered vessels at this point, it will probably have to rely initially on the U.S. or UK for both personnel training and support for nuclear infrastructure development. Given the strong historic relation between the Royal Australian Navy and UK’s Royal Navy, the UK might provide initial training for submarine cadres to man the new Australian nuclear submarine force. 

The ultimate creation of a nuclear submarine force in Australia will take decades. Therefore, Australia might follow India’s model and start by renting a nuclear submarine from either the U.S. or UK. India rented two submarines: The first from the Soviet Union and then a second from Russia, before building its own nuclear submarine, whose design appears to be based to a significant degree on its second leased submarine. Acquiring a U.S. or UK submarine, possibly with a joint crew, could be a big first step forward for an Australian nuclear submarine program.

If the AUKUS plan goes forward, a significant question is whether the proliferation risks associated with HEU could be reduced by developing propulsion reactors fueled with non-weapon-usable low-enriched-uranium (LEU). France and China already use LEU to fuel their naval reactors. Russia and India use HEU fuel, although not weapon-grade.

Despite encouragement from Congress over the past 25 years, the U.S. Navy has vehemently rejected designing its future submarines to be powered by LEU. The principal argument is that the reactor core would have to be larger or would have to be refueled once or twice. The U.S. Navy’s current reactors are designed to be life-of-the-ship, which the Navy considers to be a significant cost and time savings. U.S. refueling cycles have kept U.S. submarines in shipyards for over a year to carry out refuelings, although France has developed robotic refueling arrangements through hatches that have reduced that time to a few weeks.

After the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile peaked in 1964, the U.S. continued to produce weapon-grade uranium for naval reactor fuel until 1992. For the past two decades, U.S. and UK submarines have been fueled with HEU from more than 10,000 U.S. nuclear warheads that became excess at the end of the Cold War. This source will run out by around 2060. In order to maintain HEU fueled submarines and aircraft carriers, the U.S. will soon need to study and fund a very expensive new facility to produce HEU. Providing HEU fuel for Australia will accelerate the need for a new facility.

The Biden administration could also look at the Australian development program as an additional motivation to shift U.S. submarines and aircraft carriers to LEU fuel. That would avoid the need for the U.S. setting the dangerous example of developing a new HEU production facility after the existing supply is used up. Australia, France, the U.S. and UK could also work with the International Atomic Energy Agency to deal with the safeguard issues that arise from the military use of nuclear reactors in non-nuclear-weapon states. That too would be made much easier if the submarines were fueled with low-enriched uranium.

Should there be interest in the Biden administration to patch things up with France, it might explore bringing France back into the Australian submarine program to provide its expertise on LEU-fueled submarines. 

George M. Moore is a scientist-in-residence at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. He was previously a staff member at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and was a senior analyst at the International Atomic Energy Agency.Frank N. von Hippel, a nuclear physicist, is professor of public and international affairs emeritus in Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.

Babylon the Great flouts international law by ignoring nuclear weapons prohibition treaty

U.S. flouts international law by ignoring nuclear weapons prohibition treaty

Voices / Letters from readers

The writer serves as pastor of Centre Congregational Church (United Church of Christ).

On Aug. 13, I stood on Main Street, Brattleboro, with my two friends, Daniel Sicken and Bill Pearson, to protest the United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Here is what I learned while standing in solidarity with them: Nuclear weapons are against international law, and the United States (legally) violates that law.

How can this conclusion be made?

The United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons outlaws the development, manufacture, testing, possession, transfer, acquisition, stockpiling, use or threat of use, control or receipt, stationing, or deploying of nuclear weapons. This treaty renders nuclear weapons under the same prohibitive category as land mines, cluster munitions, chemical and biological weapons, and poison gas.

The treaty entered into force when the respective legislatures of 50 countries ratified it (October 2020). 

Under its terms, those nations that do not ratify it are not bound by its requirements.The United States and all of the remaining nations that possess/deploy nuclear weapons neither signed or ratified the treaty.

The treaty is an expression by those nations that signed it (86) and ratified it (53) of their frustration with those many nations that have not sufficiently abided by its goal to pursue disarmament “in good faith.” It has been over 50 years!

As of September 2020, the United States has the most deployed nuclear weapons in the world: 1,750.

Russia has 1,572 deployed weapons.

China possesses only 320 nuclear weapons (total).

France has 200 deployed nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom has 60 deployed nuclear weapons.

Pakistan has 160; India, 150; Israel, 90; and North Korea, 35 nuclear weapons (total).

As a student of international relations at the American University’s School for International Service, I studied nuclear brinkmanship. I suppose that if one’s highest allegiance is not faith, the study of the worthiness, morality, and effectiveness of nuclear weapons is debatable, and their possession and use are even justifiable.

But, if the paradigm to which one is ultimately accountable is theological and not geopolitical, is spiritual and not militaristic, is Christocentric and not nationalist — is the morality and, thus, legality of nuclear weapons even debatable?

I strive to think primarily as a Christian and secondarily as a United States citizen. Yet, this proves difficult because since I began to attend school I was told to pledge allegiance to the flag, and even singing the national anthem before every professional sports match has somehow become a cultic ritual.

Many still hail the United States as a “Christian nation.” Yet, as the famous theologian H. Richard Niebuhr once stated, “Christendom has often achieved apparent success by ignoring the precepts of its founder.”

And what is a precept of our Lord and Savior? “You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-44).

To that, I respond, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Thank you, Daniel and Bill, for your witnesses.

Rev. Dr. Scott Couper
Brattleboro

The new power of the Australian nuclear horn: Daniel 7

uncaptioned

Australia’s Huge New Weapons Buy Will Give It Long-Range Strike Ability For First Time Since F-111 Bombers

08:00am EDTAerospace & Defense

I write about ships, planes, tanks, drones, missiles and satellites.

Australia’s abrupt decision to cancel a $66 billion deal with France to acquire a dozen new conventional submarines—and swap in eight British or American nuclear subs, instead—has sparked a minor diplomatic crisis.

The French government predictably is upset at losing the revenue and influence the sub deal represented. The Chinese government meanwhile objects to Australia acquiring a powerful new undersea capability that could pose a serious threat to the Chinese fleet.

But the sub swap is the just the most public aspect of a wide-ranging, multibillion-dollar initiative that, over the span of a decade or more, could transform Australia’s military. 

Where before Australian forces suffered serious constraints owing to their limited range and the huge distances between Australia and its likeliest foe, in coming years the Australians might deploy long-range missiles that can hold at risk enemy forces many thousands of miles away.

“These capabilities … will enhance Australia’s ability to deter and respond to potential security challenges,” the government stated.

It’s a big deal. But as portentous as the political and industrial moves are for Australia, its allies and its rivals, arguably all the new policies achieve is to reset Australian strike capabilities to where they were around 2010, right before the Royal Australian Air Force retired its F-111 bombers.

Today the Australian military’s long-range striking power resides mostly with the RAAF. The air force’s 93 F/A-18 fighters are compatible with Joint Air-to-Surface Strike Munitions that Canberra acquired from the United States starting in 2014.

An F-18 can range around 450 miles with weapons and without aerial refueling. A JASSM travels as far as 230 miles. Unrefueled, an RAAF F-18 can strike a target no farther away than 680 miles. 

That’s a problem. Australia is really, really far from its biggest potential enemy, China. A Royal Australian Navy submarine sailing from the RAN’s sub base on the country’s west coast would have to travel 3,500 milesto reach the South China Sea, where a clash between China and its rivals is likeliest to occur.

An RAAF plane flying from the air force’s base in Darwin, on the north coast, has a somewhat shorter journey. The South China Sea is just 2,500 miles away. That’s still much farther than an RAAF F-18 or one of the air force’s three-dozen F-35s can fly without aerial refueling. 

Yes, the air force possesses seven highly capable KC-30 tankers, but all seven tankers working together could project just a handful of fighters over long range. One 2019 analysis concluded that the RAAF’s entire refueling fleet is adequate to keep just a pair of fighters over the maritime choke-points around Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. Still many hundreds of miles from the China seas.

A host of new weapons buys the Australian government announced last week could extend the military’s striking range—by a lot.

In addition to a new flotilla of up to eight nuclear-powered submarines, Canberra announced it would buy, for its warplanes, the extended-range variant of the JASSM plus a new JASSM-based anti-ship missile and any new hypersonic strike missile that Australian and U.S. industry manage to co-develop. 

The RAN’s three Hobart-class destroyers would get Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Tomahawk can hit land targets at a distance of around a thousand miles, potentially allowing the destroyers to strike Chinese forces from positions outside the China seas.

The new aerial munitions afford Canberra the most flexibility. The JASSM-Extended Range has a 560-mile range. An F-18 with JASSM-ERs and without mid-air refueling could hit a target a thousand miles from its base. 

That’s an improvement over the current, 680-mile limit to unrefueled RAAF strike ops. But it’s still at least a hundred miles short of the range of the air force’s long-retired F-111Cs. 

Sensitive to the tyranny of distance that defines Australian war strategy, the RAAF in the 1960s initiated a controversial program to acquire a custom version of the U.S. Air Force’s supersonic, swing-wing F-111 bomber. 

The RAAF ultimately operated 28 F-111Cs as well as 15 ex-USAF F-111Gs, mostly armed with bombs—although they also could carry Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The last of the aging bombers left service in 2010 after 42 years of service.

In giving up the F-111, the government knew it was also giving up its long-range firepower. “The F-111 is a unique asset in the region,” said Dennis Jensen, a member of parliament at the time. “With the loss of this capability, our competitive edge will be lost.”

A decade later, Australia finally is moving to restore that edge.Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website or some of my other work here. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a journalist, author and filmmaker based in Columbia, South Carolina

New Arms and Nuclear Risks Spells and End to this World: Revelation 16

New Arms and Nuclear Risks Could Spell End to the Asian Century

Sep 21, 2021

Since 1945, the only successful economic modernization worldwide has occurred in Asia, with focus on economic development. After a decade of US pivot to the region, arms races and nuclear risks are rising.

According to the new trilateral security pact (AUKUS) between the United States, the UK and Australia, Washington and London will “help” Canberra to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines.

The $66 billion deal effectively killed Australia’s $90 billion conventional sub deal with France, thereby causing a major ruckus with Washington’s NATO partner. 

Stunningly, US and Australian officials had been in secret talks for months over the plan that was hatched more than a year ago by the far-right Trump administration. Yet, it was both embraced and accelerated by the Biden White House, which claimed to offer an “alternative” to four years of Trump devastation.

The pact will escalate regional arms races and nuclear proliferation, which is strongly opposed by China and casts a dark shadow over the aims of the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ, 1995). 

Asia at nuclear edge, twice within a year 

Without a decisive and coordinated opposition in Asia, disruptive escalation will not only derail economic development but could result in major catastrophe in the region – as evidenced by last week’s disclosures in Washington.

During the U.S. 2016 election and the subsequent Capitol riot, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, America’s highest military authority, had reason to be concerned about President Trump’s possible use of war to distract attention from domestic turmoil.

According to The Peril, the new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, President Trump’s top military adviser General Mark Milley took secret action to limit Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons. Moreover, Milley called Chinese General Li Zuochen to “convey reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.” 

Milley was concerned that “Trump might spark war.” No Demonstrating great restraint and foresight, he did whatever he could, relying on the protocol, to neutralize the risks. But what about the next time?

This is neither the first nor the last of nuclear crises to come. But it is a prelude to what’s ahead in Asia. Neither the White House nor the Pentagon seems to be effectively in charge anymore. Defense contractors are.

New Cold Wars 

In the 2018 Shangri-La Summit in Singapore, General Dynamics (GD), the global defense giant expressed its concern that sales in the Asian market remained behind those in the Middle East.

However, GD CEO Phebe Novakovic, who has served both in the CIA and the Pentagon, believed US defense contractors could double their revenues. To win over “unsophisticated buying authorities,” she believed it was necessary to discourage national efforts to build indigenous capabilities. 

At the time, I predicted that the Shangri-la Summit heralded arms races in Asia; ones that would be legitimized in terms of real, perceived or manufactured conflicts. 

These powerful economic forces are driven by revolving-door politics among the White House, the Pentagon and defense contractors. As U.S. government watchdogs and journalists have reported in the past few months, President Biden’s foreign and defense experts are compromised by alleged conflicts of interests. 

The list includes Biden’s Asia tsar Kurt Campbell, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, foreign affairs secretary Antony Blinken; and defense secretary Lloyd Austin. 

Each and all have longstanding economic ties with defense contractors. 

Contractors pivot from Middle East to Asia 

In 2016-20, Asia and Oceania (42% of world total) led arms imports, leaving behind even the Middle East (33%), according to the Sweden-based SIPRI.

In 2020, US spent $778 billion in military expenditure, as opposed to $252 billion by China. At per capita level, Chinese spending is less than 8 percent relative to the US level.

Today, the biggest arms importers worldwide are India (9.5% of total), Australia (5.1%), and Japan (2.2%), the key US allies in Asia. Together, they are importing over three times more arms than China (4.7%). 

The largest arms exporter worldwide remains the U.S. (37% of all arms exports), whose share is seven times higher than that of China.

Then, there’s the question of the costs. Over the past two decades, China has waged no major wars. 

By contrast, U.S. spending in the post-9/11 wars amounts to $8 trillion in cumulative current dollars, as well as 1 million lost lives in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan, while millions have been forcibly displaced. 

Fading Asian Century?

The economic development that has been so successful in Asia in the past few decades is premised on the kind of peace and stability that these arms races and nuclear proliferation will inevitably complicate, undermine or collapse over time. 

In 2011, the Asian Development Bank projected that 3 billion Asians could enjoy living standards similar to those in Europe, and the region could account for over half of global output by 2050. 

That can be realized only if peaceful conditions prevail in Asia, the region can focus on economic development, and arms races and nuclear proliferation can be preempted. 

And that’s no longer assured.

Dr. Dan Steinbock is an internationally recognized strategist of the multipolar world and the founder of Difference Group. He has served at the India, China and America Institute (USA), Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Center (Singapore). For more, see https://www.differencegroup.net

Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet

Philippines supports the Australia nuclear Horn to counter China: Daniel 7

Filipino soldiers stand at attention near a Philippine flag at Thitu island in disputed South China Sea April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Philippines supports Australia nuclear sub pact to counter China

September 20, 202111:11 PM MDTLast Updated 15 hours ago

MANILA, Sept 21 (Reuters) – The Philippines is backing a new defence partnership between the United States, Britain and Australia, hoping it can maintain the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region, a view that contrasts sharply with some of its neighbours.

Known as AUKUS, the alliance will see Australia get technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines as part of the agreement intended to respond to growing Chinese power.

“The enhancement of a near-abroad ally’s ability to project power should restore and keep the balance rather than destabilise it,” Philippines foreign minister, Teodoro Locsin, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Locsin’s remarks, dated Sept. 19, differ to the stance of Indonesia and Malaysia, which sounded the alarm about the nuclear power submarines amid a burgeoning superpower rivalry in Southeast Asia.

Locsin said that without an actual presence of nuclear weapons, the AUKUS move would not violate a 1995 treaty to keep nuclear arms out of Southeast Asia.

The South China Sea continues to be a source of tension, with the United States – a defence treaty partner of the Philippines – and Western allies regularly conducting “freedom of navigation” operations that China has reacted angrily to.

China sees those as outside interference in waters it claims as its own, in conflict with other coastal states, like the Philippines and Vietnam, which have accused China of harassing fishermen and energy activities.

A brief period of rapprochement is all but over this year, with the Philippines furious about the “threatening” presence of hundreds of Chinese “maritime militia”vessels inside its exclusive economic zone.

“Proximity breeds brevity in response time; thereby enhancing an ASEAN near friend and ally’s military capacity to respond to a threat to the region or challenge the status quo,” Locsin added, without specifying the threat.

“This requires enhancing Australia’s ability, added to that of its main military ally, to achieve that calibration.”

Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty

Babylon the Great shows her nuclear might: Danie

US submarine launches Trident II nuclear missiles in stunning show of strength

17:07 ET,

THE US Navy triumphantly test-launched Trident D5LE nuclear missiles on Friday in a stunning show of strength against China’s latest threats.

The scheduled two-missile deployment of the unarmed revamped weapon took place off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida from the USS Wyoming (SSBN-742) submarine. 

The impressive operation involving the Ohio-class ballistic missile warship was part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, designated DASO-31.  

Its aim was to evaluate the strength of the ballistic missile submarine and its crew before it is sent out for operational deployment after the subs upgrades.

The Navy boasted of the “unmatched reliability” of the new “sea-based nuclear deterrent” as tensions continue to increase with China.

It was the 184th successful Trident II (D5 & D5LE) SWS missile test flight and follows the last launch in February this year off the coast of Florida.

Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, Director of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, said: “Today’s test demonstrates the unmatched reliability of our sea-based nuclear deterrent, which is made possible by a dedicated team of military, civilian and industry partners who bring expertise and dedication to the mission that is truly extraordinary.

“This same team is now developing the next generation of the Trident Strategic Weapon System, which will extend our sea-based strategic deterrent through 2084,” he continued.