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Nuclear power? It’s of zero use to Australia’s emissions plan

I have no problems with nuclear power. But the only way it would be viable is with an extremely high carbon price. I say bring that on!

Except a high carbon price makes renewables an even better investment, and thus nuclear less needed.

And even a high carbon price won’t get enough nuclear plants built soon enough to prevent temperatures rising above 2C.

Nuclear power is too costly, too slow, so it’s zero use to Australia’s emissions plan, EXCELLENT GRAPHS Guardian, Greg Jericho  18 Oct 21, With a 20-year development timeline, nuclear plants won’t be built soon enough to stop temperatures rising above 2C. So why are we wasting precious time debating them?

The catch-22 of nuclear power in Australia is that you would only consider it if you wanted to reduce emissions because of climate change, but if you agree climate change is real and we need to reduce emissions, you would not consider nuclear power.

Currently Australia burns a lot of coal – more than other comparable economies with nuclear power.

Even worse, Victoria relies greatly on the dirtiest and least-efficient brown coal.

But if you think climate change is a load of bunk then, as current head of charging with ChargeFox, Evan Beaver, puts it in his excellent blog post on the issue, “we might as well burn all the coal we have. And we have a lot.”

But if you do agree climate change is real then what we need to do is reduce emissions as fast as possible. As I noted last month, at a certain point there will be so much CO2 in the atmosphere that we won’t be able to limit temperatures rising above either 1.5C or 2C above pre-industrial levels, no matter when we get to net zero afterwards.

Projected cumulative emissions between 2021 and 2050

6,161Gt is the carbon budget to stay below 2C; 3,521Gt is the carbon budget for 1.5C

We must cut emissions fast – at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and probably by about 75% if we want to limit temperature rises to less than 1.5C.

Nuclear power is of zero use on that score.

We know this because nuclear power has already been examined a lot.

One excellent study was in 2006 under the Howard government, by Ziggy Switkowski. It noted that “the earliest that nuclear electricity could be delivered to the grid would be 10 years, with 15 years more probable”.

Alright then. Firstly, not even the National party is insane enough to make nuclear power an election promise.

So let’s assume if the Coalition wins next year’s election, but announces a move to legalise nuclear power, that even with the best intentions, given the task of getting the votes, it’d be lucky for that to happen until the end of 2022.

Now all that has to happen is choose the type of reactor, and oh, pick a spot (have fun).

Ignore the coming election in 2025 and assume everything gets in place by 2024 (not a hope, but hey, let’s play pretend). That means at best we’re looking at 2035 but more likely 2040 before the first nuclear plant comes on line.

That is already too late to help prevent temperatures reaching 2C, and by then an overwhelming amount of our electricity will already be generated by renewables.

That means the need for such a plant is gone. Markets know this, which is why no one will ever invest in such a plant here.

The CSIRO’s latest “GenCost” report suggests the capital costs of small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear power plants by 2030 and even out to 2050 will be greater than renewables, including solar thermal plants.

But perhaps rather surprising is that nuclear becomes even less viable when the CSIRO projects the world getting to net zero by 2050.

The reason is that, under such a scenario, the push for renewables accelerates so greatly that the development of nuclear power effectively stalls, meaning Australia would have to be a leading investor in new plants – thus paying the first mover costs.

As the CSIRO notes, “a major source of discomfort” for nuclear stakeholders is that the high cost estimate of nuclear power “is of theoretical value only” because “a nuclear SMR plant is not planned to be built in Australia anytime soon”………………….

I have no problems with nuclear power. But the only way it would be viable is with an extremely high carbon price. I say bring that on!

Except a high carbon price makes renewables an even better investment, and thus nuclear less needed.

And even a high carbon price won’t get enough nuclear plants built soon enough to prevent temperatures rising above 2C.

Nuclear power: too costly, and too slow.

October 19, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Senate Inquiry quizzes Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency on infrastructure needs for nuclear submarines.

Nuclear agencies say it’s too early to know what infrastructure is needed to support submarine program

Rex Patrick says it’s ‘beyond comprehension’ Australia could build a nuclear-powered fleet without a domestic industry to support it, Guardian, Tory Shepherd, Fri 15 Oct 2021

Nuclear agencies say it is too early to speculate what legislative and infrastructure changes need to be made to support a nuclear-submarine project.

A senate economics committee inquiry into naval shipbuilding has been running for two years, but a public hearing on Friday was the first since the federal government announced its intention to acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines.

Independent senator Rex Patrick called the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation to appear. The agencies were quizzed over what nuclear infrastructure and industry would be needed to support the project, and what laws would need to be changed – however, they took most of those questions on notice.

Ansto did confirm it was consulted in March about the plan to buy nuclear-powered submarines, about six months ahead of September’s surprise announcement.

“Initial conversations started in March and we had a number of consultations between then and the announcement,” chief executive officer Shaun Jenkinson said.

Arpansa chief executive officer Carl-Magnus Larsson said his agency was briefed on the plan at the end of June or beginning of July.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has said there are no plans to develop a civil nuclear industry to support building submarines. He and defence say the nuclear reactors – which will be procured from the United States or the United Kingdom as part of the Aukus agreement – will not need refuelling, and therefore a domestic industry is not necessary.

Ahead of the inquiry, Patrick said: “It’s just unimaginable, it’s beyond comprehension that someone could suggest we’d be operating a nuclear operator in a submarine in a hands-off manner.

“I also want to understand what safety regime they understand to be necessary for this to be carried out,” he added.

Labor senator Kim Carr said there would have to be “extensive onshore facilities” to train people in case there’s an emergency, or a malfunction.

“I’d be interested to know how this can be done without the development of the various sustainment industries.”

“We’d need to have intensive training of all personnel to understand the linkages between the reactor and all the other bits of the boat,” he said.

“You can’t just drop it in. It’s not like a battery in a mobile phone, everything’s connected to everything else.”……….

October 16, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics | Leave a comment

Uncertain delivery date for nuclear submarines. Australia’s existing fleet still in use in 2050?

Nuclear submarines’ uncertain delivery date means ageing Collins class could be in use until , could be more than 50 years old by the time the Aukus deal delivers Australia’s nuclear fleet. Guardian, Daniel Hurst and Tory Shepherd
Fri 15 Oct 2021 

Australia’s navy chief has left the door open to keeping some of the existing Collins-class submarines in the water until 2050, amid uncertainty about the exact schedule for acquiring new nuclear-propelled submarines.

The government is already planning to extend the life of the six Collins class submarines by 10 years, with the extensive refitting work set to cost between $3.5bn and $6bn.

But the navy chief, V-Adm Michael Noonan, indicated on Friday that a “potential” option was to refit them a second time to further extend their life.

Given the first Collins-class submarines were commissioned in the late 1990s, that option could see them used until they are about 50 years old…….

The South Australian senator Rex Patrick accused the government of being “extremely reckless” with national security amid the latest revelations…….

At a shipbuilding committee hearing on Friday – the first since the $90bn French deal was dumped – senators explored concerns about Australia facing a “capability gap” while it waited for the new submarines to be ready……….

Labor – which has backed the Aukus plan – said the evidence raised many questions for the government, including whether the Collins class submarines would be able to withstand multiple upgrades of this type.

Labor’s defence spokesperson, Brendan O’Connor, asked: “If enhanced submarine capability is critical to our national security, why would we still have 50-year-old Collins Class vessels in 2050?”……..

The Australian government has set up a taskforce, with 89 members and growing, whose job over the next year and a half is to work with the US and the UK on “identifying the optimal pathway to deliver at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for Australia”……..

It remains unclear precisely how much the Australian government will have to pay to settle contracts with France’s Naval Group and another defence contractor, Lockheed Martin…………..

October 16, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

AUKUS nuclear submarines deal must be abandoned

AUKUS nuclear submarines deal must be abandoned, Pearls and Irritations, By Brian TooheyOct 13, 2021

Australia doesn’t need nuclear powered submarines, especially given the Australia’s long-standing support for the world’s nuclear non-proliferation goals.

The White House failed to think beyond its Anglo-Saxon allies in London and Canberra when agreeing to sell Australia eight nuclear submarines.

The US’s north Asian allies Korea and Japan are much closer to China and more at risk, however slight. The Japan Times responded with a cool headed article spelling out the folly of the decision. It said the US, “has put at risk long-standing but fragile global pacts to prevent the proliferation of dangerous nuclear technologies”.

It also reported that US Navy ships “use about 100 nuclear bombs worth of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) each year”.

Although the US or the UK is supposed to build Australia eight nuclear-powered attack submarines under as new agreement called AUKUS, there is no realistic way this can occur without trashing Australia’s long-standing support for the world’s nuclear non-proliferation goals.

One of the key problems is the US Navy insists it is essential to use uranium enriched to 93 per cent to obtain the main fissile isotope of U-235, the same level as in nuclear weapons. It also insists it couldn’t switch to low levels of enrichment without greatly increasing the costs and size of the submarines as well as the construction time.

This means the US Navy will reject Malcolm Turnbull’s suggestion to get the French to supply non-weapons grade fuel. The British can’t help as they get their HEU fuel from the US. The enrichment to 93 per cent compares to around 40 per cent for Russian and Indian submarines. The French only enrich to 7.5 per cent, China to about 5 per cent and civilian power reactors to around 3.5 per cent. Anything less that 20 per cent is defined as low level enrichment.

The White House’s attitude has changed since the 1980s when the US blocked Canada’s attempts to buy nuclear submarines from the UK or France.

Nevertheless, some members of the US Congress and senior officials want the navy to shift to low enrichment to eliminate proliferation problems.

A nuclear problem

In a letter to The New York Times, former US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security Rose Gottemoeller said the proposal to share HEU-fuelled submarines with Australia “has blown apart 60 years of US policy” designed to minimise the use of HEU uranium.

“Such uranium makes nuclear bombs, and we never wanted it in the hands of non-nuclear-weapon states, no matter how squeaky clean,” she said.

Of the seven nuclear weapons states, five have nuclear submarines. Australia will be the first non-nuclear weapons state to get nuclear submarines. The understandable concern is that other allies will want similar treatment, expanding the risk that weapons grade uranium will be stolen or diverted.

In some interpretations, a loophole exempts naval nuclear reactors from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s anti-proliferation requirements.

But there are numerous other agreements that Australia might have to comply with if it stores HEU in its submarines.

The AUKUS defence deal is almost wholly symbolic

In addition, the AUKUS agreement includes Australian access to other technologies, including Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles for the navy’s Hobart-class destroyers. Because the Tomahawk can be armed with nuclear or conventional explosives, this could make it difficult to comply with the Missile Technology and Control Regime which Australia has strongly backed.

Another hurdle stems from the Howard government’s passage of a parliamentary act in 1999 outlawing just about all nuclear activities, apart from mining and exporting uranium. If circumstances prevent the US from maintaining all the nuclear aspects of Australia’s future submarines, this might spark calls for the rapid construction of nuclear facilities here. But the necessary amendments to the 1999 act could be blocked in the Senate.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison can’t credibly commit Australia to never engaging in nuclear proliferation. In the 1960s, Liberal prime minister John Gorton took preliminary steps to develop Australia’s own nuclear weapons, explaining to the US secretary of state Dean Rusk that he did not trust the US to defend Australia if it had to use nuclear weapons. A prime minister sharing Gorton’s assessment could emerge at any time.

Perhaps the White House will overrule the navy after a protracted battle to ensure the new submarines use low enrichment uranium posing no proliferation problem.

Nuclear submarines are not essential

However, the deal would still make no sense for Australia.

Government sources are widely quoted as saying the cost of the new submarines will be well over $100 billion, yet the first one won’t be operational until after 2040 and the last until after 2060. By then, the submarines would be obsolete death traps, susceptible to detection and destruction by several existing and new technologies.

The time scale reinforces the entire air of unreality about acquiring these submarines, only a couple of which may be operationally available at any one time.

Some commentators suggest Australia must buy the submarines to help the US counter a Chinese threat to Taiwan.

But no one knows what will happen to China or the US in a radically uncertain future. By 2060, China may be the dominant country in Asia, it may have returned to its earlier policy of living in Confucian harmony with its neighbours………………..

October 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

All nuclear reactors are very expensive, but small nuclear reactors are even more expensive

Australian Submarines May Go Nuclear But Our Power Stations Never Will,   SOLARQUOTES, October 11, 2021 by Ronald Brakels

  • ”…………………….Small Modular Reactors Are More Expensive An SMR is a Small Modular Reactor.  There have been claims these will provide cheap energy in the future, but this seems unlikely given their designers have stated that…
    • Before cost overruns are considered, SMRs will produce electricity at a higher cost than current nuclear reactor designs.Being more expensive than conventional nuclear power is a major obstacle for any plan to supply energy at a lower cost. 
  • The advantage of SMRs is they are supposed to be less likely to suffer from disastrous cost overruns.  This means they are a more expensive version of a type of generation that is already too expensive for Australia before cost overruns. While any cost overruns that do occur may not be as bad as conventional nuclear, that’s not what I call a good deal.  

  • There is nothing new about small nuclear reactors.  India has over a dozen reactors of 220 megawatts or less in operation.  But all Indian reactors now under construction are larger because they want to reduce costs.  Technically their small reactors aren’t modular because major components weren’t constructed at one site and then moved to where they were used.  This leads to another major problem with SMRs…
    • They don’t exist. Before Australia can deploy an SMR, a suitable prototype reactor will have to be successfully built and operated. Then a commercial version will need to be developed and multiple units constructed overseas without serious cost overruns and used long enough to show they can be operated safely and cheaply. Given nuclear’s prolonged development cycle, this could easily take over 20 years.  The very best estimate for the cost of electricity from an SMR I have seen is around 6.2 cents per kilowatt-hour and it relies on everything going perfectly — a rare thing for nuclear power.  It also leaves out several costs that have to be paid in the real world.  :……….

October 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Nuclear power is too expensive for Australia.

Australian Submarines May Go Nuclear But Our Power Stations Never Will,   SOLARQUOTES, October 11, 2021 by Ronald Brakels

Australia recently decided to buy nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS pact with the UK and United States. 

Assuming it goes ahead, the first sub may be ready around 2040.  But while our submarines may have nuclear reactors, our power stations never will.

There is a simple reason Australia will never have nuclear power despite deciding to get reactors that wander around under the ocean.  The reason is…

  • Nuclear power is too expensive for Australia.
  • Every other concern — whether it’s safety, waste disposal, decommissioning, insurance, or location — is irrelevant because nuclear energy can’t clear the first and vital hurdle of making economic sense. Some suggest building nuclear power in addition to renewables because the threat from global roasting is so great we should fight emissions using every means at our disposal.  But this would be counterproductive because:
  • Nuclear power consumes resources that would result in greater emission cuts if used for solar and wind generation plus energy storage.
  • In other words, $1 spent on solar power will cut greenhouse gas emissions far more than $1 spent on nuclear energy.Finally, some people say we need nuclear power to provide a steady source of low emission baseload generation, but this suggestion is completely nuts.  Even if we built nuclear power stations, they would soon be driven out of the market in the same way coal power is because:
    • Nuclear power has exactly the wrong characteristics to be useful in a grid with a high penetration of solar and wind.Australia currently doesn’t have a nuclear power industry, and building submarines with American made sealed reactors that are never refuelled will do next to nothing to make nuclear power more cost-effective.  In this article, I’ll explain why nuclear power makes no economic sense in Australia, and at the end, I’ll also whinge a bit about nuclear submarines.  ………..
  • Nuclear Power Is Ridiculously Expensive The cost of energy from new nuclear isn’t just expensive; it’s ridiculously expensive.  Here are examples of reactors under construction in developed countries, using Australian dollars at today’s exchange rate:

  • Finland’s Olkiluoto #3 reactor:
      So far, this 1.6 Gigawatt reactor has cost about $14 billion, which is around $8,750 per kilowatt of power output.  Construction started in 2005 and was scheduled to be completed in 2009.  Due to delays, it’s now scheduled to commence normal operation in February 2022 for a total construction time of 17 years. 
  • France’s Flammanville #3 reactor:  The cost of this 1.6 gigawatt reactor is approximately $31 billion.  That’s $19,400 per kilowatt.  Normal operation is scheduled for 2023 — 16 years after construction began. 
  • UK’s Hinkley Point C:  These two reactors will provide 3.2 gigawatts of power and cost around $42 billion.  That’s $13,100 per kilowatt.  Construction began in 2018, and they’re currently scheduled to come online in 2026.
  • US Vogtle 3 & 4:  These two reactors in Georgia (the US state, not where Stalin was born) will total 3.2 gigawatts and, by the time they are complete, may cost over $38 billion.  That’s around $12,000 per kilowatt.  Construction started in 2013, and they’re expected to come online next year.  These are the only commercial reactors being built in the United States. 
  • As you can see, new nuclear isn’t cheap.  Note these aren’t the most expensive reactors under construction in Western Europe and North America, they’re the only ones under construction.     If you think these reactors are expensive to build but provide cheap electricity, that’s not the case.  The Hinkley Point C reactors under construction will receive a minimum of 21 cents per kilowatt-hour they supply for 35 years after they come online.  If the wholesale electricity price goes above 21 cents, they’ll receive that instead.  The 21 cents is indexed to inflation, so it will remain ridiculously expensive for the full 35 years. In the US, households in Georgia will have paid around $1,200 each towards the new Vogtle reactors by the time they come online. After that, their electricity bills will increase by around 10% to pay for the new nuclear electricity.  For another nuclear power station to be constructed in the US would require a payment per kilowatt-hour similar to or higher than Hinkley Point C. ………………..

………….. Poor Choice For Emission Reductions. Some people ask…“Why not build both nuclear and renewable capacity to reduce CO2 emissions as rapidly as possible?”

The answer is…“Because every dollar invested in nuclear will cut emissions by much less than a dollar spent on renewables.”

If the goal is to cut emissions rapidly, it’s counterproductive to invest in nuclear.  Australia doesn’t have existing nuclear capacity or a half-built reactor, so whether it makes sense to keep old reactors operating or complete construction doesn’t come into it.Nuclear capacity isn’t quick to build.  Some notable examples:

  • Olkiluoto 3
     — 17 years
  • Flammanville 3 — 16 years
  • Watts Bar 2 — 43 years
  • Because Australia has no nuclear power industry, it would take more than five years to build a nuclear power station even if we could start construction today1. But Australia can increase its solar energy generation almost immediately.  Extra wind power will take months to arrange, as wind turbine purchases are more complex than just ordering extra solar panels and inverters.  Firming the grid with energy storage is also fast.  The world’s largest battery, the Hornsdale Power Reserve or “Tesla Big Battery”, was built in 100 days.Whether cost or time are considered, nuclear energy is a poor choice for reducing emissions.
  • Nuclear Energy Not Needed For Baseload GenerationOne of the craziest reasons given for building nuclear power in Australia is we need low emission baseload generators.  This idea is nuttier than a lumpy chocolate bar because:
    • No baseload generators are required.
    • Like coal, nuclear power has the wrong characteristics to support a grid with high solar and wind generation.It’s impossible to argue that we need baseload generators that run continuously (except for maintenance).  This is because South Australia has none.  The state doesn’t continuously import electricity either. 
  • Despite having no baseload generators, SA still manages to meet demand as well as other states. South Australia had coal baseload generators in the past, but as wind and solar power capacity expanded, there were increasing periods of low or zero wholesale electricity prices2 resulting from solar and wind having zero fuel costs.  Because their fuel is free, they have little or no incentive not to provide electricity even if they receive next to nothing for it. 
  • Because coal power is expensive to start and stop and saves very little money by shutting down because its fuel cost is low — but not zero — it often had no choice other than to keep operating during periods when it was losing money on every kilowatt-hour generated. In 2016 South Australia shut down its last remaining coal power station because it was no longer profitable.  This same process is happening throughout Australia as solar, wind, and energy storage capacity increases.  In a (hopefully) short period of time, renewables will drive coal power out of the market. 
  • If it doesn’t make economic sense to keep existing coal power stations around to supply baseload power, it definitely makes no sense to replace them with more expensive nuclear reactors with the same problem – that shutting down saves little money because their fuel cost is low.  Building a nuclear power station and then only using it half its potential capacity almost doubles the cost of energy it produces. 

………………. Other Nuclear Energy IssuesThere are many issues associated with nuclear power that are often discussed but are irrelevant.  I’ll quickly mention and dismiss half a dozen or so:……….

October 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs | Leave a comment

The facts contradict the pro nuclear spin of the Minerals Council of Australia’s report, written by Ben Heard.

“a smaller reactor, at least the water-cooled reactors that are most likely to be built earliest, will produce more, not less, nuclear waste per unit of electricity they generate because of lower efficiencies.”

Due to the loss of economies of scale, the decommissioning and waste management unit costs of SMR will probably be higher than those of a large reactor (some analyses state that between two and three times higher).”

Small nuclear reactors, huge costs   Dr. Jim Green 11 October 2021  Even by the standards of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), the new report published by the country’s most influential coal lobby on the subject of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) is jiggery-pokery of the highest order.

Why would a mining industry body promote SMRs? After mining for some years — or at most decades — no company would want to take on the responsibility of decommissioning a nuclear reactor and managing high-level nuclear waste for millennia. No companies are cited in the report expressing interest in SMRs to power their mining operations.

Perhaps the MCA – which infamously provided the lump of coal for Scott Morrison to wave around in parliament – thinks that promoting nuclear power will slow the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, and believes that it is in the interests of some of its member companies to slow the transition.

If so, the timing of the report isn’t great, coming in the same week as the Business Council of Australia’s report which argues for a rapid, renewables-led decarbonisation, and Fortescue’s announcement that it plans to build the world’s largest green energy hydrogen manufacturing facility in Queensland.

Perhaps the MCA is doing the bidding of the (mostly foreign-owned) uranium mining companies operating in Australia? The MCA’s CEO Tania Constable said: “Australia should take advantage of growing international interest in nuclear energy and look to expand its already significant uranium sector.”

Perhaps … but there’s no evidence that the two companies mining uranium in Australia — BHP (Olympic Dam) and Heathgate Resources (Beverley Four Mile) — are lobbying for nuclear power. And Australia’s “already significant” uranium industry could hardly be more insignificant — it accounts for about 0.2 percent of Australia’s export revenue and about 0.01 percent of all jobs in Australia.

Bob Carr’s atomic bombshell

The MCA report also came in the same week as Bob Carr’s striking about-face on nuclear power. Having previously supported nuclear power, Carr wrote in The Australian: “In 2010 one enthusiast predicted within 10 years fourth-generation reactors and small modular reactors would be commonplace, including in Australia. None exists, here or abroad.”

The MCA report says SMRs are an “ideal fit” for Australia, citing their enhanced safety, lower cost than large-scale nuclear reactors or equivalent energy production methods, and lower waste production than current reactors.

It’s all nonsense. The safety claims don’t stack up. Nor do the claims about waste. Academic M.V. Ramana notes that “a smaller reactor, at least the water-cooled reactors that are most likely to be built earliest, will produce more, not less, nuclear waste per unit of electricity they generate because of lower efficiencies.”

And a 2016 European Commission document states: “Due to the loss of economies of scale, the decommissioning and waste management unit costs of SMR will probably be higher than those of a large reactor (some analyses state that between two and three times higher).”

SMRs have a similar capacity to many existing coal and gas-fired power plants in Australia, the MCA report states, so would make an ideal replacement. Back to Bob Carr:

“Where is the shire council putting up its hand to host a nuclear power plant? Harder to find than a sponsor for a high-temperature toxic waste incinerator.

“Nobody in the Hunter Valley has urged nuclear for the Liddell site, even on the footprint of this coal-fired power plant scheduled to close. And not even invoking the prospect of a small modular reactor that 10 years back was the vanguard of the nuclear renaissance. About to be planted across the Indonesian archipelago and the rest of Asia, we were promised.  Today they exist only on the Rolls-Royce drawing boards they have adorned since the 1970s.”


The MCA said in June 2020 that SMRs won’t find a market unless they can produce power at a cost of A$60-$80 per megawatt hour (MWh). That’s a big problem for enthusiasts because there’s no chance whatsoever that SMRs will produce power in that cost range.

An analysis by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, prepared for the 2015/16 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, estimated a cost of A$225 / MWh for a reactor based on the NuScale design, about three times higher than the MCA’s target range.

CSIRO estimates SMR power costs at A$258-338 / MWh in 2020 and A$129-336 / MWh in 2030.

Russia’s floating nuclear plant is said to be the only operational SMR in the world, although it doesn’t fit the ‘modular’ definition of serial factory production.

A 2016 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report said that electricity produced by the Russian floating plant is expected to cost about US$200 (A$273) / MWh, about four times higher than the target range cited by the MCA and more expensive than power from large reactors (US$129-198 / MWh).

Completion of Russia’s floating plant was nine years behind schedule and construction costs increased six-fold.

Yet, despite a mountain of evidence that SMRs won’t come close to producing power in the A$60-80 / MWh range, the new MCA report asserts that “robust estimates” using “conservative assumptions” suggest that SMRs will produce power at a cost of A$64-77 MWh by 2030.

One wonders who the MCA think they’re kidding.

The MCA report was written by Ben Heard, who recently closed his ‘Bright New World’ nuclear lobby website, just before taking up a full time role with consultancy Frazer-Nash. Heard promotes Canadian SMR-wannabe Terrestrial Energy in the MCA report but does not disclose his role on the company’s advisory board.

Heard also contributed two chapters on nuclear power to a 2020 book titled ‘An Australian nuclear industry: Starting with submarines’.

Dr Jim Green is lead author of a 2019 Nuclear Monitor report on SMRs and national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia.

October 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

US and UK begin jostling to supply Australia with nuclear submarine fleet

US and UK begin jostling to supply Australia with nuclear submarine fleetABC By defence correspondent Andrew Greene10 Oct 21, ‘……….In 2021, the Australian Defence Force is again considering what role the Royal Navy could play in developing its next submarines, or whether like many modern acquisitions, it will focus on interoperability with American technology.

Under the AUKUS partnership struck in September, the leaders of the United Kingdom and the United States have agreed to work with Australia on how to build a new class of nuclear-powered submarines.

Over the next 18 months, the Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force inside the Department of Defence will lead a study into the numerous regulatory issues involved in the ownership and operation of nuclear-powered boats.

While the design is not yet known, or what the criteria will be, for many commentators the existing British Astute-class is emerging as an early favourite for Australia to replace the Collins-class fleet

Others inside the defence industry believe any nuclear-powered Australian submarine will need to be an American boat, based on the Virginia-class so that it can be serviced at nearby US bases in Guam or Japan.

Both the British and US options have various advantages and disadvantages, which highlight the extraordinarily complex process the ADF faces to select a nuclear-powered submarine — which may never actually eventuate.

Already the regulatory challenges appear significant, as nothing is more complex and costly in the military world than nuclear-powered submarines, particularly for a country with no domestic nuclear industry.

In the United States, an eminent group of former officials and experts has written to President Joe Biden warning the AUKUS deal could threaten national security by encouraging hostile nations to obtain highly enriched uranium (HEU).

Australia insists it will uphold its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but the engineering sector warns it will be a steep learning curve for the Defence Department.

The now dumped Attack class submarine being designed by France’s Naval Group was based on the Barracuda class, which lost three years in development because of less complex regulatory issues associated with low enriched uranium (LEU).

“This is a very long-term effort that’ll be decades, I think, before a submarine goes in the water,” US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday predicted last month…………   

October 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, marketing | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarine deal needlessly raises tensions — Highly Enriched Fuel a particular danger

World needs to work together, not provoke further conflict

Nuclear submarine deal needlessly raises tensions — Beyond Nuclear International 10 Oct 21, s

Proposed US/UK nuclear-powered submarines for Australia jeopardise health while escalating an arms race no one can win
Joint statement by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and its affiliates in Australia, UK and USA: Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia); Medact (UK); Physicians for Social Responsibility (USA)
Physicians in the countries involved in the proposal announced on 16 September for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines with UK and US assistance are concerned this plan will jeopardise global health and security. Under this proposal, Australia would become the seventh country to use nuclear propulsion for its military vessels, and the first state to do so which does not possess nuclear weapons, or nuclear power reactors. These submarines are to be armed with sophisticated long-range missiles including US Tomahawk cruise missiles. These submarines would increase tensions and militarisation across Asia and the Pacific region, fuel an arms race and risk deepening a new cold war involving China.

The wrong decision at the wrong time

Humanity is in the midst of a major pandemic, and facing twin existential threats of dire urgency — global heating and the growing danger of nuclear war. People everywhere desperately require our leaders to work together to address these major challenges, which can only be solved cooperatively.

Beginning on November 1, the UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Glasgow, when leaders have a choice to condemn humanity to cascading climate catastrophe, or step up and take the decisive and ambitious actions needed to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep warming within 1.5 degrees. COVID vaccines are still out of reach for most of the world’s poor people. If ever there was a time to build goodwill and focus on cooperation to complex global problems rather than escalate military confrontation, that time is now.

Our leaders should be focussing their energies not on escalating a new cold war arms race with China, but on building peaceful cooperation to address urgent shared threats with the government of the world’s most populous and largest greenhouse gas emitting nation.

Instead, this plan will raise tensions, make cooperation more difficult, drive proliferation of ever more destructive weapons, divert vast resources needed to improve health and well-being and stabilise our climate, and increase the risks of a slide to armed conflict between the world’s most heavily armed states, risking nuclear escalation in which there can be no winners.

Spreading nuclear bomb fuel

Commendable international efforts over decades to reduce production, use and stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) worldwide have been supported by Australia, UK and US, including through the Nuclear Security Summits led by President Obama. In its role as G7 president, the UK has committed to ‘reinvigorate the aim of minimising production and use of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)’.

UK and US nuclear-powered submarines use HEU as fuel, which is directly usable in nuclear weapons, including those of the simplest design easiest for terrorists to build. Indeed their current naval reactor fuel is enriched to 93% and was originally produced for use in nuclear warheads. They have resisted and delayed efforts to convert their naval reactors to much less proliferation-prone low-enriched uranium fuel, as France and China have done, and any conversion to LEU is not likely before the late 2030s at the earliest.

So it seems very likely that any Australian nuclear submarines built with US or UK naval reactors over the next 20 years will also use HEU. Precisely because of the proliferation dangers of naval reactor fuel, the US has previously gone to considerable lengths to thwart the spread of naval reactors, such as in the 1980s blocking Canada from buying nuclear attack submarines from France and the UK.

A loophole exists in the international safeguards required under the nuclear Non- proliferation Treaty (NPT): states without nuclear weapons can remove fissile materials (which can be used to build nuclear weapons) from safeguards for a temporary period for use in military applications short of nuclear weapons. No nation has yet done this in relation to naval nuclear reactors.

The quantities of HEU involved are large. As Sebastien Philippe from Princeton University has estimated, a fleet of between 6 and 12 nuclear submarines as proposed, operated for about 30 years, will require between 3 and 6 tons of HEU. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stipulates that 25 kg of HEU would enable a nuclear weapon, even though US nuclear weapons are known to contain an average of only 12 kg of HEU.

So HEU fuel for the proposed Australian submarines would involve 120 to 240 times the amount of HEU as the IAEA stipulates is sufficient to build a nuclear weapon, and it could be out of international safeguards for decades. Philippe has aptly characterised this as “a terrible decision for the non-proliferation regime”. It discredits all three nations’ claims to support a treaty curbing fissile materials, and would make such a treaty harder to verify.

The Australian government proclaims its support for strong nuclear safeguards, while falsely claiming that the safeguards obligations in the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) are weaker than those under the NPT 3 (they are, in fact, stronger). Its plan to drive large amounts of HEU in reactors roaming the oceans for decades through a loophole in its safeguards does not indicate good faith on safeguards and non-proliferation.

This proposal needs careful independent scrutiny and strong new safeguards provisions to ensure Australia fulfills its obligations under both the NPT and the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. The latter goes further than the NPT in prohibiting the stationing of any nuclear explosive device in the territory of a state party.

The UK announcement in March of a planned 40% increase in its nuclear arsenal is in breach of its NPT obligations, as the UN Secretary-General has stated. The UK and US are modernising their nuclear arsenals, both in breach of their now 51-year-old legally binding NPT commitment to disarm.

Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines could well encourage other states, such as South Korea, Japan and Iran to pursue a similar path. Proliferation of submarines or other vessels with lifespans of several decades that are fuelled by weapons-grade HEU will encourage uranium enrichment, wider use and storage of HEU, and will set back and make more difficult control and elimination of fissile materials……..

October 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

It’s unfortunate that the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal looks like weakening global nuclear non proliferation.

Limiting the nuclear-proliferation blowback from the AUKUS submarine deal, The Strategist, 21 Sep 2021|Anastasia Kapetas  If the  If the architects of the AUKUS pact and its headline initiative to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines imagined it would be seen as proliferation neutral, the reality might not be so straightforward. The announcement was extremely sketchy on many critical details, particularly from a non-proliferation perspective.

Of course, how nuclear non-proliferation issues are addressed isn’t the sole test of this deal, but it will be part of managing its future trajectory. It’s notable that the State Department doesn’t seem to have been in the loop on negotiations. It has carriage of US non-proliferation commitments, so some of the proliferation consequences may not have been front of mind.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the deal will comply with Australia’s international non-proliferation commitments. That’s true, as there’s a massive loophole in Article III of the United Nations Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons that exempts naval reactors from nuclear safeguards. However, the non-proliferation community has long seen the loophole as a major threat to one of the treaty’s key aims—to limit the production and use of highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can be used to make nuclear weapons………

There could also be implications for negotiations on the proposed fissile material cut-off treaty, historically supported by Australia, which aims to strictly limit the amount of fissile material that nucelar-weapon states can manufacture. Negotiations are locked in a stalemate, largely thanks to Pakistan. Nonetheless, the treaty’s goals have broad international support and the manufacture of more weapons-grade uranium to power Australia’s submarines will likely also set those goals back.

There seems to be an emerging consensus in the global arms-control community that the AUKUS submarine deal could have a hugely negative effect on non-proliferation norms and practices. Depending on how Washington responds, this could have an impact on how the program unfolds.

Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, says that the deal ‘will further intensify the arms race in the region and dynamics that fuel military competition’. Pointing to the sparse strategic rationale offered so far, he adds, ‘Other than fielding more and better weapons, does anyone have a plan?’

Similar views have rippled across non-proliferation and arms-control circles, driven by fears that the deal will set a precedent ushering in a dangerous era of loosened nuclear restraints.

Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association, points out that if Australia gets a HEU submarine like the US Virginia class, it will be the first non-nuclear-weapon state to have such a capability.

What will Washington say to other allies, such as Israel, that might want the same technology? ………..

The US and Australia both recognise the importance of strengthening global rules and the institutions that allow existential nuclear-proliferation issues to be mediated. Conventional nuclear and military deterrence might make state adversaries think twice before using nuclear weapons, but it’s of little use in stopping acquisition and the attendant risks of catastrophic miscalculation.

October 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australians for Assange call for help – save our failing democracy, as USA continues, by despicable means, their case against him.

Australians for Assange 11 Oct 21

Dear Friends, John [Julian’s father] is headed back to London for Julian’s appeal trial to be held on the 27th & 28th of October.

Despite the incredible admission of lying by the US key witness, AND also revelations of a CIA plan to kidnap and assassinate Julian in London…the US is continuing with the case…this beggars belief.

We now know the US has been spying, plotting to kill and colluding with a known criminal to manufacture evidence.In John’s own words, “there is a Mount Everest of criminality surrounding Julian…and right at the very peak they even plotted to put poison in his cup…it makes you feel sick.”Everyone’s rights are being crushed and so to our “Justice” systems.

We must act to save what little is left of our democracy.Please help support John through this dark time in our history. Many thanks to those who have contributed already and even several times. The cost to Julian’s family is both emotional and financial…everyone’s help is critical to continue the campaign. WE MUST WIN!

October 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Growing pressure for Australia to scrap the plan for nuclear submarines fuelled by Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

Experts warn Joe Biden supplying nuclear submarines to Australia threatens US security

Malcolm Turnbull says reactor not a ‘plug and play’ power pack as former US officials raise national security concerns, Guardian   Tory Shepherd, Fri 8 Oct 2021  Malcolm Turnbull says reactor not a ‘plug and play’ power pack as former US officials raise national security concerns.

There is growing pressure on the new Aukus partners to scrap plans to use weapons-grade uranium on submarines.

A group of former US officials and experts has written to the US president, Joe Biden, warning the deal could threaten US national security by encouraging hostile nations to obtain highly enriched uranium (HEU).

At the same time, the former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says if Australia does buy the submarine reactors without a domestic nuclear industry – and therefore the nuclear expertise – it will be “more plug and pray” than “plug and play”.

The former Nato deputy secretary general Rose Gottemoeller has called on Australia to make a new deal with France to use their uranium, which is not weapons grade. That would heal the rift with France and ease nuclear proliferation fears, she said.

In the letter to Biden, the seven signatories called on him to commit to using low-enriched uranium (LEU), which is what the French use in their submarine program.

“The Aukus deal to supply Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines fuelled with weapons-grade uranium could have serious negative impacts on the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and thereby on US national security,” wrote the group, which includes former White House officials.

At the heart of their concern is that if Australia, as a non-nuclear country, gets HEU then other countries would use that example to justify their own acquisition of the material.

Iranian officials intimated to the UN that, like Australia, they might want HEU for naval purposes.

France described Australia’s decision to ditch the $90bn submarine project in favour of the Aukus deal as a “stab in the back”, while Australia has argued that switching to nuclear-propelled submarines is strategically necessary.

There will now be an 18-month process to work out the details of the deal, which has come under heavy criticism.

Turnbull told Guardian Australia that the government should have stuck with the French deal, bought an initial three diesel-electric boats, then switched to their LEU technology.

That would be the “honest and straightforward” course, and would speed up the process because crews would already train in a very similar boat.

“(And) we wouldn’t have double-crossed France and destroyed people’s trust in Australia,” he added.

He said one of the reasons Australia had chosen France over Germany and Japan was the possibility of transitioning to nuclear……………

 Morrison has said Australia won’t need a nuclear industry because the reactor will be made overseas then put into the Australian-built boat.

October 9, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

Morrison’s decision on AUKUS and nuclear submarines was made with no debate in the Australian Parliament

Our PM, Scott Morrison, struts the world stage, vilifies China (some of it deserved), but in the process is locking in Australia’s subservience to US foreign policy while guaranteeing increased US troop access and US spy stations on Australian territory for the future. Add to this the crippling cost of procurement of nuclear powered subs and the possible return of Donald Trump to ‘guide’ our nation into the future.

This sabre rattling at an external enemy will allow Morrison some catch up in the polls while the ALP is wedged. The huge crime here is to make a decision without debate in the Federal Parliament.

Times change, but some things regarding the nuclear industry and international political posturing remain the same.

Local anti-nuclear activists who chose to make a difference… By Ian Cohen October 7, 2021    Following the Nuclear Disarmament Party’s close loss with front man Peter Garrett in 1984, nuclear issues were at the forefront of people’s minds. We extended our influence far beyond our Shire. The pending arrival of nuclear armed warships sent the local region into overdrive. Benny Zable from Nimbin rolled out his ‘radioactive’ barrels for street theatre. Dean Jefferys based in Brunswick Heads came with his ultralight, Hoss (Ian Hoskens) of Main Arm with his megaphone voice and me with my surfboard.

September 1986 heralded the arrival of the largest assembly of international ships in Sydney Harbour’s history. Many were nuclear armed.

Our north coast contingent was vital to the success of the protest actions. Driven by a reckless, but heartfelt, desire to impact on the nuclear arms race and send a direct message to US President Ronald Reagan and USSR’s Yuri Andropov.

The mad concept of surfing the nose of a nuclear armed warship was mine, but Sydney Morning Herald photographer, Robert Pearce, from a media barge directly in front of myself and the warship, captured the image of a vulnerable surfer hanging onto the nose of a nuclear armed destroyer that went global.

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October 9, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, opposition to nuclear, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear power for Australia? It’s not going to happen!

Nuclear enthusiasts and fellow travellers like me once said of solar it’s the greatest future source of power and always will be. Solar investors may aim that rhetorical dart at small modular reactors and, indeed, the nuclear sector as its energy share, for years stagnant, proceeds to go backwards.

In Australia nuclear attracts not the remotest investor interest. If nuclear were an option a merchant bank or superannuation fund might be manoeuvring to own the space. They might have formed a consortium with a miner and a construction company or two, with a brace of lobbyists at work. It’s not happening.

The contrast with the surge to renewables is stark………..

[ED. An interesting and important piece here re the failure of nuclear power in today’s Australian.
Important because Bob Carr used to be pro-nuke and has changed in response to evidence.
This is timely and a good reinforcement to federal Labor re their strong opposition to any domestic nuclear industry.

Nobody’s really interested in the nuclear option


Australians may be open to nuclear power, as evidenced by Tuesday’s Newspoll. But nuclear is not open for them.

Globally the industry is moribund. “The dream that failed,” says The Economist magazine, concluding it needs government money for life support.

In 2010 one enthusiast predicted within 10 years fourth-generation reactors and small modular reactors would be commonplace, including in Australia. None exists, here or abroad.

More damning, the industry lacks a single example in a Western country of a new power plant being built remotely on time and budget. According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, 94 plants were to come on line across the last decade but 98 get decommissioned. Yet 48 of those to be built are to be in China. Remove them and that leaves 46 coming online and – stubborn fact – 98 being decommissioned in the rest of the world.

In 2019, for the first time, renewable sources, excluding hydro, generated more power than nuclear.

In Australia nuclear attracts not the remotest investor interest. If nuclear were an option a merchant bank or superannuation fund might be manoeuvring to own the space. They might have formed a consortium with a miner and a construction company or two, with a brace of lobbyists at work. It’s not happening.

The contrast with the surge to renewables is stark. Andrew Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes are prepared to put their own funds into a vast solar farm in the Northern Territory and Forrest to make a huge commitment to hydrogen. There is no single investor with a comparable zest for nuclear power, either high net worth individual or institution.

Ziggy Switkowski produced a report on nuclear power for John Howard in 2007. It was to be the foundation of Australian nuclear power, a decades-long dream. Even with a partiality for the industry Switkowski could only conclude nuclear power, at double the price of coal and gas, would require a price on carbon – and even additional government subsidy.

Three prime ministers – Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison – have not reopened the debate. For his part, by becoming chair of Crown in August, Switkowski seems to demonstrate more confidence in gaming-based tourism than the commercial potential of the nuclear fuel cycle.

I argued a pro-nuclear case within the Labor Party and scorned what I saw as the left phobia against the nuclear option. Like British scientist James Lovelock I thought coal more destructive and nuclear the bridge to the era of renewables.

But it’s now clear nuclear is lumbering, subject to breakdowns and cripplingly expensive. New renewable sources such as wind and solar increased by 184 gigawatts last year while nuclear grew by only 2.4GW. The number of active reactors has barely changed since the 1980s.

France was the poster child. But no new reactor has been connected to its grid since 1999. It closed its pressurised water reactor in 1991 and followed by terminating two fast breeder reactors and a small heavy-water reactor.

Poor reliability plagues the fleet. On any day at least four plants are at zero output because of technical failures. The average per plant is a month per year at zero production. But investment in upgrades faces competition from renewables and tough new EU energy efficiency standards.

Not even Scandinavian efficiency can provide a happy pro-nuclear narrative. Finland became the first country in western Europe to order a new nuclear reactor since 1988 but it’s running 13 years late, plagued with management and quality control issues, bankruptcies and investor withdrawals.

Who could have the faintest confidence that Australia could throw up a nuclear reactor with more panache – exceeding with efficiency not only the Finns but the British with their delays and cost blowouts and the Americans with their construction disasters in Georgia and South Carolina?

Doing big complex projects is hardly an Australian competitive edge. Think of the 50 years opining about a second Sydney airport, or – killer fact – the fumbling with submarines.

Where is the shire council putting up its hand to host a nuclear power plant? Harder to find than a sponsor for a high-temperature toxic waste incinerator.

Nobody in the Hunter Valley has urged nuclear for the Liddell site, even on the footprint of this coal-fired power plant scheduled to close. And not even invoking the prospect of a small modular reactor that 10 years back was the vanguard of the nuclear renaissance. About to be planted across the Indonesian archipelago and the rest of Asia, we were promised. Today they exist only on the Rolls-Royce drawing boards they have adorned since the 1970s.

Nuclear enthusiasts and fellow travellers like me once said of solar it’s the greatest future source of power and always will be. Solar investors may aim that rhetorical dart at small modular reactors and, indeed, the nuclear sector as its energy share, for years stagnant, proceeds to go backwards.

Bob Carr is the longest-serving premier of NSW and a former Australian foreign minister.

October 8, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics | 1 Comment

A powerful contradiction to Australia’s planned AUKUS and nuclear submarine developments

Ed. note. Here I summarise the points in this well-researched letter: Diplomatic Repercussions –  Geopolitical Tensions and Australian National Security(Why the decision makes Australias national security worse not better)  – We now have No Submarine Program at All.  – But Is Nuclear the Best Stealth? – Can we Build them at Osborne?  -Time to re-evaluate our Submarine Program? –The worst option is to do as we have now done. – Conclusion – This decision  should be re-visited


The submarine decision, especially within the context of the new ‘AUKUS’ grouping, but even taken on its own:

Worsens rather than improves Australias own national security, making us (more of) a nuclear target than we have ever been, and extending the targeting potentially from joint facilities to Australian cities and naval bases.

Worsens rather than improves regional security, adding impetus to regional arms racing, and increasing the likelihood that other Governments may decide they would like to have submarines fueled by HEU 

Leaves Australia currently with no replacement program for the Collins Class submarines

Makes no sense even within its own restricted terms of reference because it does not offer a submarine with the best stealth

—Requires a submarine  that may not be possible to construct even in part at Osborne. 

Letter Sent 5 October to Cabinet Security Cttee, Senate, Reps, DFAT, re Nuclear Subs, AUKUS,



Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison, other decision-makers on the Australian nuclear submarines project, Cabinet National Security Committee, AUKUS:


The decision to establish a new diplomatic/military grouping, AUKUS, deepens confrontational tendencies in the Indo-Pacific region and is hence destabilizing, and worsens rather than improves Australia’s national security. It helps to ‘paint nuclear targets on Australia’s backside’.

The decision to equip Australia with nuclear submarines fueled with highly enriched uranium is both destabilizing and proliferative even if technically within the letters of the NPT.  The decision to go with HEU fueled subs in particular opens a proliferation ‘pandoras box’.

The decision to ‘go nuclear’ with submarines has been justified on the supposed technical superiority of nuclear over conventional subs. However a look in detail at the real – world technical and operational characteristics of advanced conventional and nuclear subs shows clear technical superiorities on the part of advanced conventional submarines exactly where we are being told nuclear subs are superior – in the area of quietness and non-detectability. The technical case for nuclear over conventional submarines is not established.

No analysis, and no thought, has been given as to what are Australia’s real security needs, and into whether submarines of any description fit into it.

The decision leaves Australia with currently NO replacement program for the Collins Class subs.        

The Submarine Decision and AUKUS

The decision to cancel an existing, well – established, contract with the French Naval Group for a diesel version of the Suffren class attack submarine has not met with universal acclaim, particularly from the French.

At the same time, the  closely related decision to establish a new military/diplomatic grouping to be known as ‘AUKUS’ (Australia-UK-US) has also raised questions as to its  geo-strategic impact, and contributed further to the deterioration of our relations with China, and possibly with Russia, with potentially catastrophic implications for Australias national security and the safety of all Australians.

It has quite reasonably been suggested that the establishment of ‘AUKUS” cements Australia into an ‘Anglo-sphere’ that is intrinsically limited in scope (how for example, does it relate to the ‘quad’ of India, Australia, Japan, US?), that excludes other nations that have strong Indo-Pacific interests and are allies (including France itself, now snubbed and smarting), and above all, that deepens confrontational attitudes in the region, especially with China.

It is by no means clear that the decision to substitute nuclear powered submarines is even the best decision on technical grounds, or that nuclear powered submarines are necessarily superior in the respects that might be important to Australia and particularly in extreme stealth – to conventionally powered submarines, either the existing Collins class, the erstwhile projected French submarine, or to an evolutionary successor to Collins.

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October 5, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment