Women for a Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific
International Peace Bureau, Oceania Representative

United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Defence Secretary William Cohen recently visited Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand to do some very heavy threatening about military alliances. They made it clear that Aotearoa would not be allowed to rejoin the ANZUS (Aust/NZ/US) Alliance unless it rejects its nuclear free legislation. In Australia they made it clear what that alliance actually means.

Meeting with Australia’s Defence Minister Ian McLachlan and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, they threatened that if Australia doesn’t substantially upgrade its military hardware. Unless Australia engages in the same technology, doctrines and training opportunities it will not be able to keep up with US developments, undermining its ability to participate in joint operations. This would result in Australia losing its status as a “valuable” US ally and be unable to participate in wars, training, etc., with the US.

They insisted that Australia increase its military budget accordingly, and establish a “joint defence acquisition committee” with the US. This committee would enable US and Australian experts to consult, cooperate and collaborate so that technology and information gaps are eliminated and Australia had the ability to function under a US controlled alliance.

The US is developing a combination of satellite and laser technology that goes far beyond that witnessed during the Operation Desert Storm attack on Iraq in 1991. Their plans to militarise and control space, outlined in a document called “Vision for 2020”, require the development of ground-based anti-satellite weapons (ASATs), space-based ASATs and space-based earth strike weapons. This systems, as with all weapons systems, are controlled and coordinated by ground bases such as those in Australia, Ka Pae’aina, Marshall Islands and other nations. This is requires an incredible military budget which is greater than the economy of all South-East Asia countries combined.

In exchange Australia will be allowed to upgrade its involvement in the US new space-based missile early-warning and monitoring system. This includes stationing Australian defence personnel at Colorado Springs, HQ of the US early-warning system.

Increased weaponry and other facilities would strengthen Australia’s readiness for future cooperation in the Middle East, specifically against Iraq. It would also enhance Australia’s ties with the Central and Atlantic commands, and therefore with the US army command, and increase its involvement with the US Pacific Command, based in Ka Pae’aina/Hawai’i, which provides training with naval and air components. Part of the package is that the USAF facility at Nurrungar in South Australia will close after 30 years, but that it will be replaced by two new antennas to be built at Pine Gap, the CIA intelligence stations near Alice Springs. The antenna will link into the new geostationary satellites targeted to pick up on tactical and intermediate range missiles (like those of Iraq, India and Pakistan), as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles. The data collected by these antenna will be sent directly to Colorado, rather than to Nurrungar as before.

“US warns of defence risk”, The Australian, Greg Sheridan, 31 July 1998.

“Star Wars Returns to Dominate Space”, Bombs Away. Newsletter of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, Vol 12, No 1, Spring 1998. p3.