Tuesday 21st of March 2023

what's the difference between a porcupine and a tooth-brush?.....

Thank you, David Livingstone, for explaining that the proposal for the purchase of eight nuclear submarines has “taken on a life of its own” and is “divorced from disciplined considerations such as cost, effectiveness, and alternatives” (“Sub deal an exercise in futility and should be sunk”, January 18). As Livingstone clearly explains there is no rationale in the argument that the purchase would have a bearing on any action China may take and is “militarily meaningless. Now and into the future.” As he points out at a cost of at least $170 billion, probably much more, the same amount of wealth could be used domestically on health, education, infrastructure, national debt and more meaningful defence capabilities. 

Graham Cochrane, Balmain


Which part of our coast in 20 years will the two available (absurdly expensive) subs protect? That the US would allow us to use its nuclear technology to actually build a sub (in breach of the non-proliferation treaty) is barely believable. That such a boat might still be relevant in the weapons race is questionable. Livingstone’s alternative uses for the money at the least is defensible, if I may pun. Jim Coombs, Petersham


The subs are an expensive way of adding to our self-defence capabilities, compared to underwater drones and smart mines and long-range missiles. They will not contribute to the development of our very thin nuclear technology base, as only US technicians will be able to change the light bulbs as well as service the reactors on these subs. Having Australian subs capable of firing missiles into China from the ocean is obviously of great concern to the Chinese, for almost no benefit to us. 

Bill Johnstone, Blackheath 


Livingstone’s arguments against Australia’s proposed purchase of nuclear submarines to deter China are rational and refreshing. Extravagantly expensive, militarily meaningless, and diplomatically provocative, AUKUS should be dropped before it’s too late. The government should admit that its only purpose is to lock the US into occupying bases in Australia which it will defend. But that’s not the Americans’ objective: they want to assert global hegemony over China, a nation with which Australia must trade and peacefully coexist. 

Alison Broinowski, Paddington








nuke toys.....



The "Globemaster" brings us his nuclear bombs


by Manlio Dinucci


When it was the only hyper-power and the world revolved around it, the United States named their best transport planes the "Globemasters". Today they use them to plant nuclear bomb stockpiles around the world, in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.


The United States - as announced last month - began shipping the new B61-12 nuclear bombs to Italy and other European countries in December. An official document from the US Air Force Department confirms this. It establishes "safety standards for operations of C-17 aircraft carrying B61-12 weapons in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility. This area, in the Pentagon’s geography, includes not only the European Union, but also the entire Russian Federation.

The document specifies which nuclear weapons are transported with the C-17 Globemasters, the largest US military transport aircraft. They bring from the United States to Europe the bombs they replace: the B61-3, B61-4 and B61-7. A single B61-12 has in fact four power options depending on the target to be hit. The C-17 Globemasters - the document further specifies - also carry other nuclear weapons: B61-11, W78 W80-1, B83-1, W87-0.

The safety standards listed in the document confirm the dangers inherent in the loading, transport and unloading operations of nuclear weapons. There can be "the probability of fire in an aircraft with nuclear weapons on board" and a failure of the aircraft while in flight forcing "an emergency landing" or "the release of a nuclear weapon".

The deployment on our national territory of the new US nuclear bombs - first strike weapons with precision guidance and anti-bunker capabilities, with which the F-35 fighter jets are mainly equipped - exposes Italy to the front line in the increasingly perilous confrontation between NATO and Russia. In doing so, Italy is violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified in 1975, which states: "Each non-nuclear state undertakes not to receive nuclear weapons from anyone, directly or indirectly".

The program ends with an interview with historian Franco Cardini on the silence of the Italian government and parliament and on the historical phase we are going through.

"Brief summary of the international press review Grandangolo of Friday, December 30, 2022, at 20:30, on the Italian channel Byoblu "


Manlio Dinucci



Roger Lagassé










sink the subs......

By Binoy Kampmark


The implications for the AUKUS security pact were always going to be grave, significant, and unnecessary. It further subordinated Australia to participating in future conflicts; it has brought into question Australia’s own already whittled down sovereignty; and it has also raised the spectre of regional nuclear proliferation.

The other feature of this whole enterprise, as it always is regarding the procurement of submarines, is their often sluggish rate of production. This fiscal year, there were even fears that the submarine forces of the US Navy would dip into a “trough”, a problem only averted by extending the life of a number of Los Angeles-class SSNs.

The US Navy’s fast attack submarine program, the Virginia-class, is also under acute pressure. A mere 1.2 vessels have been delivered, on average, per year over the last five years.

The corollary of that problem is whether Australia would simply buy a US nuclear powered submarine, the classic off-the-shelf approach to defence procurement that thrills some while aggravating others to distraction. This, according to a growing number of lawmakers in Congress, is a fanciful prospect to be stomped upon. “That’s not going to happen,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va) of the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower committee bluntly told Breaking Defence in December. “I just don’t see how we’re going to build a submarine and sell it to Australia during that time.”

Washington’s less than humble servant in Canberra, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, echoes the line of their masters. “The US doesn’t have spare submarines it can sell to Australia,” confirms Marcus Hellyer, “and it won’t have them anytime soon.” To give Australia submarines needed by the US Navy “particularly when its own numbers are flat-lining, is just not an option that the US political leadership will consider.”

The dreaded alternative is one that entails an Australian built SSN, which sounds rather close to another white elephant candidate awaiting its spot in the museum of failed defence ventures. Wittman, still smelling a buck for US national interests, suggested that Australian submariners or shipbuilders spend time in the US “for a full build cycle” to understand the process. The next Virginia class submarine that is built could then be designated to the Australian AOR [area of responsibility], be operated by a dual US-Australian crew, with a dual command function. “So it’ll be a submarine that operates in their AOR like an Australian submarine.”

Wittman’s observations lit a fire of scepticism. In a letter of concern to US President Joe Biden, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and James Inhofe (R-Okla) dated December 21 last year, the lawmakers are clear that “current conditions require a sober assessment of the facts to avoid stressing the US submarine industrial base to the breaking point.”

It must come as something of a supreme irony that Congress is concerned that the US will suffer its own challenges to sovereignty by committing Virginia-class vessels to Australia under the AUKUS agreement. This, from a country that has clearly, unequivocally and seamlessly taken control over Australian military and operational independence in any functional sense. “AUKUS options that would have the US transfer or sell Virginia-class submarines prior to meeting [the Chief of Naval Operations] requirements would make the US Navy less capable of meeting sovereign wartime and peacetime requirements.”

The lawmakers then go on to show that characteristic candour absent in Canberra’s provincial and ferociously reticent circles. “Make no mistake, we recognise the strategic value of having one of our closest allies operating a world-class nuclear navy could provide in managing long-term competition with an increasingly militaristic China.”

The Australian government, taken aback by these rumbles, has released a number of statements that do little to scotch growing doubts. Defence Minister Richard Marles ponders Australia’s own contribution to the agreement, believing it to be worthwhile and able. “We have said we will build the capacity in Adelaide to build nuclear-powered submarines.”

Details as to how this will be done are woefully skimpy. It is simply not clear whether Marles has any concept about the complexity of the project, observing that nuclear technology experts from universities across the country will be co-opted as part of the enterprise. “This is a really exciting opportunity for Australia.” He will have to do somewhat better than that to convince the likes of Reed and Imhofe.

The result of such concerns has turned Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese into an energetic lobbyist deserving a corner office on The Hill. One report from The Australian noted how he was “lobbying members of US congress to hold the line in supporting the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal as it comes under criticism in America, calling the pact essential in strengthening Australia’s defence capabilities.”

His statements of late, despite their bold confidence, do little to suggest that the nuclear submarine idea is not sinking. “We’re very confident that it’s in the interests of Australia, but also in the interest of the United States and the interests of the United Kingdom.” He has spoken about the “optimal pathway”, which was “not just the issue of what is built, but how it is built, as well as the optimal pathway in building a capacity of skills in the Australian workforce.”

Such statements do little to arrest the hard-nosed sceptics in Congress, who see little merit in splashing out in such endeavours if there is no safe, assured return for US military and business interests. The issue of improving Australian skills in the area is a distant, secondary consideration. It seems that the nuclear submarine aspect of AUKUS may sink into oblivion before it gets off the assembly line, wherever that line may be.