THURS 12 MAY 2022
PEOPLE FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
HUMAN SURVIVAL PROJECT
END OF THE WORLD CLOSER NOW THAN EVER IN HISTORY?
NOT AN ELECTION ISSUE!
AUSTRALIA NEEDS AN ONGOING PUBLIC DEBATE ON NUCLEAR RISK REDUCTION POLICY.
A global thermonuclear war with the potential to end civilisation and make human survival itself problematic, is considered by those with expertise in the area of strategic stability and nuclear weapons policy to be closer to taking place right now than at any time in history including during the tensest parts of the cold war, with the possible exception of the very height of the cuban missile crisis (where Kennedy guesstimated the chances of a global nuclear exchange at between one on three and 50/50), and short periods on Sept 26 1983 and November of the same year. With the Doomsday clock officially at 100 seconds to ‘midnight’, and with continual threats from Putin and other Russian figures to use tactical nuclear weapons on Ukraine, the use of nuclear weapons – with the escalatory potential to progress to global strategic nuclear war – has never before been so brazenly and unashamedly spoken of.
With the main decision-maker in this matter, President Putin, in bad health and possibly dying, and with his reportedly suicidal moods at times, the mere fact that the use of nuclear weapons would result in his own likely demise cannot be counted on to deter him.
Whether or not the world experiences global thermonuclear war is largely up to decisions that will be taken by a single individual whose rationality and desire for self preservation cannot be taken for granted.
In the (hopefully still unlikely, but we really do not and cannot know) event that things do progress from use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine to use of tactical nukes against NATO, to use of strategic nuclear weapons, Australia will be a high priority target.
‘Joint installations’ at Pine Gap, and Northwest cape, are critical parts of the US nuclear command and control network. They are not merely just any old target – they are right at the top of the targeting priority list of Russia, China, and the DPRK.
Australian cities are hopefully further down the priority list, but those with naval bases (Sydney, Perth, Darwin) would be targeted for just that. A standard Topol M Russian warhead (800Kt) would produce 3rd degree burns out to Gladesville and damage out to Parramatta if exploded over the CBD.
The ALP has committed (subject to various caveats) to sign on to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) or Ban Treaty. However, the TPNW will not produce the fruit of global nuclear disarmament for years and the urgent need is for action that will diminish nuclear risks in the immediate term.
ICAN is to be congratulated for its work on the TPNW, both within Australia and internationally. However there is also a need for work on immediate term nuclear risk reduction.
One immediate term measure that can be taken is the adoption of policies and postures of No First Use. In theory if all countries were to adopt and stick by such policies, nuclear war would become impossible because no one would fire first.
Other risk reduction policies include lowering of nuclear weapons alert status, and improved or merely resumed, military to military communications.
A list of possible risk reduction measures can be found at:
As things currently stand, we can be thankful if we even make it as far as election day. The risk that a possibly dying and possibly suicidal Putin decides to hit the button is just too great.
The cost of living, housing, interest rates, aged care and health care are all important issues – as long as our medium term survival is not in question.
But our immediate term survival (along with that of the rest of the planet) most emphatically IS in question.
40 years ago, a situation like this would have resulted (and did result in) protests with hundreds of thousands of people.
At the very least, nuclear weapons policy, and how it affects Australia, should be both prominent election issues, and ongoing issues of public discussion.
Yet they are nowhere to be seen.
(If I am wrong I would be glad to be wrong. But thus far I have not seen nukes mentioned at all in the upcoming election).
Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner
People for Nuclear Disarmament
Abolition 2000 Working Group on Nuclear Risk Reduction