|Webdiary - Independent, Ethical, Accountable and Transparent|
Another Alexander Downer fraud
Richard Tonkin is an investigative citizen journalist from Adelaide, fast developing a specialisation in international corporate corruption. His last piece on Webdiary was Agonies of a 'conspiracy theorist'.
by Richard Tonkin
When Australia announces that it will lease uranium to India, the deceptiveness and misleading nature of our Foreign Minister will again be revealed
Before thinking about the charade that is about to be played out before us, it's worth beginning with an overview of the nuclear situation between India and and the US. We'll begin when President Bush visited India in March. He and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agreement that seeks to provide India access to American and other international assistance in developing its civil nuclear power program.
US Under Secretary for Foregn Affairs R Nicholas Burns, who accompanied Bush on the vist said at that time that India had "committed to refrain from transferring any of its nuclear technologies", adding that "It has reassserted its commitment to maintain a unilateral moratorium of nuclear testing, and it has agreed to work with the United States towards a fissile material cutoff treaty."
Nuclear Engineering International adds that "Following a difficult and sometimes testy process of negotiation, the Indian side finally produced a separation plan which fit the US criterion of being 'credible and defensible from a non-proliferation perspective'."
Counterpunch writer Ingmar Lee explains his perceived undertones to the deal this way:
India's goal for its civilian nuclear program is to boost its contribution to its electrical grid from 3% to 12% by 2020, -an increase of 20,000 MWs. Iran however, could easily supply that 20,000 megawatts through the Peace Pipeline delivery of comparatively environmentally ethical natural gas from its South Pars gas-field near the Balochistan border, with an estimated 286.6 trillion cubic meter in proven natural gas reserves.
Condoleeza Rice however, has not minced her words about the US opposition the gas pipeline project. "We've voiced our concerns to the Indian Government about the gas pipeline with Iran." said Rice. Under a US law or the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, George Bush can penalise any foreign firm that invests more than 20 million dollars in the energy sectors of either country. In other words, India was required to sacrifice the pipeline to the nuclearagreement.
Mr Downer appeared to be sticking to his principles last week when he issued a statement reiterating that Australia would not be selling uranium to India.
In attempting to repudiate a story in the Australian claiming that a nuclear transaction would take place regardless of whether India signed the nuclear treaty, Mr Downer told the media "Our position hasn't changed. And I saw an article in the newspaper today suggesting that our officials had been suggesting to the Indians that we were planning to change policy and I've checked that out with the officials cause the newspaper reports surprised me. The officials have assured me that that's not correct."
His leader played along, saying on Friday that "Our policy is that we don't sell to anybody who's not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."
In a way Downer and Howard were correct. The supply of nuclear fuel to India will not be a sale. It will be a lease, and when the Indians have finished using the ore for peaceful purposes, the leftovers will be shipped back to Australia.
Days after Mr Downer made the denial of a sale our Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile appeared on national television to introduce the concept of nuclear waste returning to Australia. Mr Vaille told Sunday's Laurie Oakes that he was "aware of some of the discussions that are taking place, and obviously we need to be engaged in those discussions."
Such abstract concepts would seem relatively meaningless were it not for the fact that they were made at a time when our Prime Minister was walking the halls of the White House. On Saturday Mr Howard met with Dick Cheney, the US Vice President who was still receiving, until this year, two hundred thousand dollars a year from the company to which he gave a signifigant amount of privatised government jobs, including caring for the US miltary wherever in the world they go. Mr Cheney's former company, Halliburton, also constructed the trans-Australian railway line that might transport the waste to an inland nuclear repository. Halliburton have previously calculated missile breach probability statistics for the proposed (now abandoned) national facility at Woomera.
I'm going to risk the speculation that, by the end of this week, President Bush will make the request of Prime Minister Howard that Australia assists India in meeting its energy needs by allowing her to access our forty per cent of known global uranium reserves. Mr Bush will also ask Mr Howard, in the name of peace, to safeguard the nuclear waste from possible use in warfare by bringing it home to Australia. A handshake in the Oval Office would be an easy way to solve the fuel trade dilemma. Say Cheese, Mr President!
The Australian Greens have been the first to notice what's about to happen. Senator Christine Milne has suggested today that the Government should tell the truth.
[from The Age]
Greens senator Christine Milne said turning Australia into a dumping ground for spent nuclear fuel from India was unacceptable.
"If there is no safe disposal, there is no justification for mining in the first place," Senator Milne said in a statement.
She challenged the government to name where in Australia it intended to store any spent nuclear fuel from India, China, or elsewhere.
"(Mr) Howard and (Mr) Vaile should stop talking in code and admit that the motivation behind discussions with the US on the lease proposal is pure and simply to circumvent the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which prevents the export of uranium and nuclear technology to India," Senator Milne said.
Senator Milne went on to say that the Greens had campaigned for a "cradle-to-grave" Australian responsibility for its uranium, adding that, "That is why, when there is no safe disposal for nuclear waste, it is irresponsible to generate the product in the first place," and concluded that "The world is already beset by terrorism. Nuclear waste on the high seas is a frightening prospect."
Her sentiments were echoed by ALP energy spokesman Martin Ferguson, who told The Age that "the Labor Party rejects any suggestion by the Prime Minister that Australia becomes a repository for high level radioactive waste from India. We have one message on these issues in India and the US and another message back home. It's time for John Howard to tell the truth,"
Facing awkward questions during his campaign to promote the Federal Budget, the PM's heir apparent has all but confessed to the nature of the Indian plans, saying yesterday that uranium leasing was "something that we shouldn't rule out, but it's a long way off. You're talking decades and decades." If Ingmar Lee's figures on the level of nuclear-generated electricity that India wants to achieve by 2020 are correct, surely the maximum availabe timespan is a decade and a half?
Coming back to Minister Downer's comments last week, would it be fair to suggest that, in his position as representative of foreign affairs, Alex might have had more than an inkling of the topics that his leader was intending to discuss in Washington? In "telegraphing" the possibility of uranium leasing, Mr Vaille's words indicate that he at least knew what was going on.
Two possibilities exist. The first is that Mr Downer, reportedly the Bush Administration's proposed former front-man for the International Atomic Energy Agency, has no idea of how his boss will be sorting out this important foreign policy issue. The second is that Downer knows exactly what is going on and is yet again attempting to mislead the Australian public.
Note the carefullness of Downer's words of "officials have told me..." If this isn't the pre-creation of an escape clause I'll eat my (tin) hat. If Mr D is called a liar all he has to do is, in the same manner as his treatment of the AWB fiasco, claim that he was incorrectly advised. It astounds me that any Australian can still possess any shred of trust for the words of this man.
How would Mr Downer fare if interviewed duing a lie detector test? In March of this year the head of Australian Polygraph Services and the boss of Australian company The Podcast Service issued a public invitation to Alex for a free lie detector test.
"Poly the Pollie" was launched with the aim of inviting Australian MPs to sit a policy-based lie detector test, conducted by Steve Van Aperen, Van Aperen says he's known throughout Australia as an expert in the field of interviewing and detecting deception. He claims he has received extensive training from the world’s leading international investigative authorities in how and why people deceive and has been, according to the website, affectionately named the “Human Lie Detector”.
[from Poly The Pollie]
Reilly said polythepollie.com on The Podcast Network would track responses from MPs and publish results.
“From time to time, we all suspect that politicians may not be telling us the complete truth. In the past, we shrugged our shoulders and accepted that lying was part of politics and that there was little we could do about it. Well now we can,” he said.
“If I have a choice to vote for a politician who is prepared to submit him or herself to a polygraph and one who is not, then I know which one I will be voting for, and I think a lot of people will feel the same way.
”Downer’s admission of knowledge about the Australian Wheat Board’s dealings in Iraq is just one example. It’s time politicians were held accountable for their actions.”
Mr Downer has recently been propagating fear of Islamic terrorism. Here's what he had to say last week:
Obviously it's something we're very wary of. I mean, Australians were killed twice in Bali by Islamic fundamentalists, we had our Embassy in Jakarta attacked on September 9 2004 by Islamic fundamentalists - although Australians weren't killed in that attack, Indonesians were. So, a lot of Australians have been killed by Islamic fundamentalists, so we're very wary of them. In relation to an attack on Australian soil, well, as we say, you should be alert but not alarmed.
Long before the AWB inquiry there was a scare in the Australian media. Korean missiles might strike Sydney. A very quick response by those in the know showed the allegations to be baseless. However, this hasn't seemed to phase their author, Mr Guess Who.
We've been grumbling for years now about lack of ministerial accountablility, to no avail. How do we enforce our elected leaders to tell us the truth? Do we strap them down and interrogate them with electrodes attached, or do we simply ensure that they depart political life when they're proven to be liars?