Saturday, 03 February 2018 17:40 John Hallam
 SUN FEB 4 2018





The Australian Government must reject the new US Nuclear Posture review, and should urge the US government to think again. The new nuclear posture further increases the already much too high risk of nuclear weapons use. Its search for 'usable' nuclear weapons, whether smaller than existing designs, or merely 'more flexible' (the US already has smaller yield, and 'dial-a yield' nuclear weapons designs), suggests that the Trump administration is looking for excuses to use, and context in which to use, nuclear weapons.

But whether a nuclear weapon is a .1Kt mini-nuke designed to demolish a city block or a tank formation, or a multi-megaton monster designed to take out a large city or destroy continent-wide electronic, electrical and communications infrastructure, as former US Defense Secretary Bill Perry points out, a nuke is a nuke is a nuke.

And even the use of the very smallest of nukes is likely to lead down a slippery slope to the use of larger and larger weapons until a large-scale, civilization-ending, potentially species-ending, nuclear exchange is taking place. Advocates of 'limited' nuclear war are optimistic that such a slide can and will be avoided. Such optimism is entirely without foundation since whoever seems to be losing will escalate. The slide is at best risky, and at worst, fatal.

With the US locked into a highly dangerous standoff with the DPRK, the use of 'tactical' mini nukes against that country becomes possible. While a miracle MIGHT possibly allow the US a 'splendid first strike' that would disable the DPRKs retaliatory capacity, or while the DPRK might just possibly be unable to hit back, it seems far more likely from what we understand of their capabilities that if cornered they would manage to hit back in some way. The likelihood of nuclear strikes against Tokyo, Seoul, Guam, or a US city cannot be discounted, and may be impossible to prevent. It is also possible that targets in Australia might be hit (Pine Gap, Northwest Cape), or even Australian cities.

The Nuclear Posture Review envisages an expanded series of scenarios in which the US might retaliate with nuclear weapons even to a non-nuclear strike such as a cyberspace attack – never mind that it may not be possible to tell with any certainty where that attack came from, or that the US might get it wrong.

The nuclear posture review does point correctly to a more disordered and unstable world. It points to incremental improvements in Russian, and Chinese nuclear capabilities as reasons to 'improve' US nuclear capabilities. The remedies it proposes are going to make the disease worse not better.

With the Doomsday Clock already showing 2 minutes to nuclear 'midnight', the nuclear posture review inches us another increment closer to that fateful hour.

Australia should:

--Make known its alarm at the direction of US nuclear posture.

--Announce its intention to sign and ratify the Ban Treaty (TPNW) and to lobby others including the US itself and all other nuclear-armed states, to do so.

--Support measures to reduce nuclear risk, urging the nuclear – armed states to adopt no-first-use policies, to take nuclear weapons off high alert, to improve mutual transparency and military to military emergency and crisis communication

--Give high level support and high level representation to the High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament to be held in New York between 14th and 16th May.

Australia should give no comfort to policies that risk either the triggering of nuclear war ('limited' or otherwise), or that risk initiating an arms race that culminates or risks culminating in nuclear war.

The new nuclear posture review puts a second cold-war back on the global agenda and risks everything that humans value. Australia should reject it.

John Hallam

UN Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner

People for Nuclear Disarmament

Human Survival Project

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