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Another Alexander Downer fraud

Richard TonkinRichard 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.

On Sunday our PM planted trees with President Bush in a public demonstration of mutuality in what Bush described as "The Liberty Agenda"

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?


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Richard, I dug up my first faltering e-mails sent to the front benchers before the invasion.  JH was strutting the world stage, and the Internet fraternity had succeeded in giving the lie to all of Powell's (since discredited) dot-point UN presentation.

I asked of them, "Why has my Prime Minister joined this bikie gang?"

At the time, I thought I was being rather daring and sarcastic.  With the unfolding of events however, I am wondering if I wasn't actually prescient.

Footnote 1:  The only politician to reply was Mr Abbott, who sent me a copy of Archbishop Pell's "Sermon for a Just War".  Tony, if you're reading this, I am still mystified.

Footnote 2:  If the Sly Boys are reading this, you'll find those e-mails on an old hard-drive in a Safeways bag in our shed.  Don't worry, Spot doesn't bite.

David R: our Tony sent us that one, too - he didn't appear to have read it, or if he had, hadn't appeared to have realised that it essentially argues against Iraq being a just war ...

Australia In COW For Wheat- Downer according to The Age

 If this information holds water, then any pretence by Mr Downer of detachment from the AWB's bribery begins to look, like the man himself, a little dodgy

[extract from today's Age]

At a meeting in August 2002 in Mr Downer's Canberra office, Prime Minister John Howard, senior Government officials and executives from wheat exporter AWB discussed the outlook for Australia's sales after Saddam. These sales had been envied by the influential US wheat lobby for years.

Documents seen by The Age reveal that an idea was floated at the meeting whereby Australia would provide military support for the US on the condition its wheat trade with Iraq was protected. A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade record of conversation shows Mr Downer suggested Australian support for the US would benefit "Australia's commercial position in Iraq" in the event of regime change.

In the lead-up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Australian Government tried desperately to strike a deal with the US. Documents show Mr Downer raised Australia's wheat trade with then US secretary of state Colin Powell at least three times. He also discussed it with his deputy, Richard Armitage.

In one dispatch a Foreign Affairs official reported Mr Downer telling Mr Powell words to the effect that the US could "forget Aussie support in future" if America flooded Iraq with wheat after the war.

Mr Downer stipulated that his request for Australia's Iraq sales to be protected be formally recorded in the minutes of his meetings with Mr Powell. Senior Australian embassy officials in Washington were instructed to press the wheat issue at every opportunity.

Once war began, wheat was never far from the Government's mind. On March 24, 2003, Mr Downer and senior AusAID officials met then AWB chief Andrew Lindberg at Parliament House to discuss the impact of war on wheat sales to Iraq.

A record of conversation shows Mr Downer's "prime concern" was the US concluding that "its sacrifices on the battlefield entitled its farmers to the Iraqi wheat market".

Cashing in on Kidman and Urban

Australia's Foreign Minister believes he's responsible for the marriage of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban?  This is the man that George W. Bush wanted to lead the world into Iran?

Ninemsn has reported that Downer was "in the vicinity" when Kidman and Urban met.  Apparently he's just told BBC Radio that he has a photograph to prove it.  Until this photo is released the mental pictures in my head will keep me giggling for days.

Alex, you're always going to be an "extra", even in attempted publicity stunts like this one.  What the Brits think of this announcement is a point of conjecture, but the word "tosser" springs to mind.

Sales pitch

Oh, c'mon! Teleology, messianic views, ethnicity, etc? I say - Bunkum! Without offence to C.Parsons or anyone else.

The frenetic cobblers and gnomes of DPRK have a straight-forward job of proving their latest rocket does fly the advertised 7000km or so. All the promises to the Iranians, the Nigerians, or the newly rich inhabitants of St.Kitts won't cash up a single sale, without a convincing test flight. And having Condi talk up the event on the front page of the Advertiser is far cheaper than paying a PR firm to do a glossy brochure.

The opposition has been muttering about a simultaneous demo of its death-ray from outer space, to intercept the Taepodong. There's a real risk in that idea, though. If it works, one of DPRK's main revenue streams will tank and they will have to churn out a few more billions of fake greenbacks. If the anti-missile tool doesn't work, well, there's only so much Stuffed Squab or Steak Tartar a Prez should have to wear on his face, at the Stephansplatz. I tip the threat of interception will have a half-life of less than 12 hours, and Alex will not even mention it for fear of causing angst to his masters.

A convincing test flight will be a great fillip to all missile makers, in fact, the military industries of France, Italy, Sweden, Austria, etc etc etc will move ahead nicely as a result. The perfect stimulus to trade. In other words, "a provocative act".

All of the above

Jenny Hume: "The US? Why would the US support such a regime. No oil. Fear?  Charity? Trying to buy peace with bribes."

As Lyndon Baines Johnson once said, it's better to have some folks inside your tent pissing out than have them outside your tent pissing in.

Also, as the North Korean experiment in socialism staggers ever closer toward imploding, it will get increasingly erratic and dangerous, perhaps involving China, Japan and South Korea in some catastrophe.

China is the USA's most important developing trading partner, Japan is a major US interest, and the USA has troops based in South Korea.

It's a case of where the usual order of business is set aside between folks sitting around a poker game when a crazed, desparate lunatic wielding wepaons enters the room.

Suddenly every thing else seems less important.

But North Korea will start a war.

And they're Iran's main supplier of missiles.

Other sources of income include sending ship loads of heroin to the developed world and laundering vast amounts of money.

World views

Will Howard: "I challenge anyone. Tell me - in what "context" would this be a message implying anything other than a virtual declaration of war?"

If you had a pathological fear of modern Western society, in particular the tendency for it to be indifferent to the claims of metaphysics (whether theological, historicist, natural or other), and a fear that open, pluralist societies like those of Western Europe and the Anglophone New World, were corrosive of theological or political philosophical absolutes, then that might provide a suitable context justifying the "wiping out" of some unsettling regional influence.

Particularly if the formal doctrines of that regional influence were Jewish, emancipated Jews being a typical symbol of modern society.

Indeed, depending on your world view, it might be possible to make common cause with other fear-filled, ideologically dogmatic movements even if, ostensibly, they were theological and your own view was atheistic.

Or vice versa.

Say you were a died-in-the-wool Marxist totally convinced that you had the key to history, and that history itself was moving in some particular direction in which your own triumphalist opinions would be vindicated by the course of events?

And there was some other group of people who, while not being Marxist, nonetheless imagined they too had a special destiny perhaps involving the conversion of the World's peoples to a messianic, teleological doctrine under the guidance of God?

Well, it wouldn't take long for either movement to realise that while they didn't share certain key assumptions, they still had more than enough in common  to fear, I dunno, pluralist societies and empiricist scientific ways of thinking, say?

Well, golly.

In a context like that, wiping whole countries of the map might seem just the most logical thing to do.

Thanks CP

C Parsons: Thanks for the links. The US? Why would the US support such a regime. No oil. Fear?  Charity? Trying to buy peace with bribes? Hope for future contracts to develop the place? Maybe when I read your links, all will be revealed. So thanks. 

The USA backs North Korea

Jenny Hume: "Just who is paying all the bills over there do you know?"

".....North Korea became the largest recipient of US aid in Asia."

"North Korea had, of course, received massive aid from China and the Soviet Union for decades."

Having a deliberate policy of economic autarky cannot help matters, though.

It'd just about reach New Guinea

Jenny Hume: "It can't reach Sydney? Maybe Downer thinks the thing could make an overnight stopover in Singapore."

The Taep’o-dong 1 is a medium-range, liquid and solid propellant, single warhead ballistic missile. It is a recent development in North Korea and represents a desperate attempt on the part of the Pyongyang to increase the range of their nuclear force. The missile can carry a nuclear warhead to a maximum range of 2,000 km (1,243 miles).

"North Korea did not have the capacity to attack Australia despite a claim it has hundreds of nuclear warheads, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said today."

Who is footing the bills?

Richard: It can't reach Sydney? Maybe Downer thinks the thing could make an overnight stopover in Singapore.

I must say though I would not like to be the Japanese, seeing these things flying overhead, or to actually be in range of them. It is hard for us to appreciate what that might be like when we are so far away, and yes, secure in that knowledge that we are so far away. Imagine if New Zealand was N Korea and it lobbed one of them into the sea off the heads. We'd not be feeling too comfortable I suspect.

It never ceases to amaze me just how N Korea manages all those healthy looking well fed young folk at the mass spectaculars, all those heavily armed goose stepping soldiers, all that armoury, nuclear weapons, and now ballistic missiles, when kids in N Korea are said to be starving to death due to international isolation. Just who is paying all the bills over there do you know? You don't run a show like that for nothing. I'll have to chase up some links and find out.

Downer: Korean nuclear missiles could reach Australia..again

Here we go with another Korean missile scare.  After warnings from the U.S. for Korea not to test a missile that could potentially drop a nuke on American soil, Mr Downer has revealed that Australia is also within range.

 [extract from ninemsn]


A missile North Korea plans to test fire has the range to reach Australia but the country is an unlikely target, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says.

Australia has added its voice to a growing international chorus demanding North Korea give up plans for the test launch of a long range ballistic missile.

The United States has threatened to respond if North Korea launches a weapon, while Japan has promised to take "severe action".

Mr Downer, who is on a trip to Europe, said North Korea would face serious international consequences if it went ahead with the test launch.

The long range missile could reach Australia, he said, but that was unlikely.

"I am sure they would not be targeting Australia with these missiles," Mr Downer said.

"(But) they would have the range to meet Australia, yes."

He warned that any test firing was completely unacceptable.

 The only trouble with Nuclear Alex (as Kevin Rudd has dubbed him) making such an ominious announcement is that he's tried that one already, and gotten it completely wrong.  Last time Downer's spinners "forgot" to allow for the fact that the missiles would fall drastically short of their targets if they were carrying a  payload.

This time Downer seems to have failed to take into account that some people remember these things, and are wondering if history is repeating itself.



Downer Stops Indonesians From Watching Hicks Film

As this piece slides from the Webdiary homepage I'd like to show you the levels that My Fine DFAT Friend will go to protect his reputation.  Given the opportunity to effectively ban a movie that made his point of view look wrong, Downer leapt at the chance.

This entry was originally posted  on my private blog in early May 


[From News.com.au]

FOREIGN Minister Alexander Downer has admitted he was a behind a decision to withdraw funds from an Indonesia film festival, leaving organisers in the lurch on the eve of its opening night.

Last December, the government pulled funding from the Jakarta International Film Festival because it objected to the screening of some movies.

On the eve of the festival, organisers were told they would not be receiving the $16,000 promised by the Australia-Indonesia Institute (AII).

The AII, a government-funded body set up to promote friendship between the two countries, had sponsored the festival in previous years.

In response to a question on notice asking who made the decision to withdraw funding at the last minute, Mr Downer said: "I did."

Mr Downer demonstrates his new karaoke technique

The World Socialist Web Site reported last December that:

The Australian films in question are: The President versus David Hicks, which exposes the illegal detention of Australian citizen David Hicks in Guantánamo Bay; Garuda’s Deadly Upgrade, about the murder of Indonesian human rights campaigner Munir Said Thalib; Dhakiyarr versus the King, a documentary on the murder trial and subsequent disappearance of Aboriginal leader Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda over 70 years ago; and We Have Decided Not To Die, an 11-minute short about three individuals who escape death in a number of different and unusual ways. Indonesian censors had cleared all four films for the festival.


 All worth considering while Downer says that the only thing wrong with Hicks is a bad back  while experts and lawyers say he's being subjected to CIA psychological torture.. yet another Alexander Downer Fraud

[extract from ABCTV Lateline Transcript]

TONY JONES: Do you have any direct evidence that David Hicks was subject over a prolonged period to the sort of things you're talking about, sensory deprivation on that scale with hoods and masks and so on because from what I've read he was subjected to that in the very early days for a short period of time.


TONY JONES: And then he was put in solitary confinement.

PROFESSOR ALFRED MCCOY, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN: Yes, he was put in an extreme form of solitary confinement for 244 days. OK? A dark cell denied any sunlight, denied any emotional support. His contact limited to once a week visits with his military chaplain, OK? So imagine that? 244 days locked up inside a cell with no human contact, no sunlight. That's an extreme form of sensory disorientation. That leads to tremendous psychological damage and when Hicks' civilian attorney Joshua Dratel first met him for the first time he found Hicks was in a severely damaged and stressed psychological state, obsessed with himself, unable to grasp reality and unable to focus on the real issues in this case. Showing all the signs, the same kind of signs that the FBI noted in their emails about the treatment of other Guantanamo detainees. Treatment by the way that the International Red Cross has called torture.

TONY JONES: Alfred McCoy, one of the strange things about the Hicks case is he appears to have virtually incriminated himself in a freely given interview with the Australian Federal Police where over a very long period of time he spells out - and evidently under no duress - he spells out how he had training in three phases in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Given that he openly gave that information to Australian interrogators, why would there be any need to torture him?

PROFESSOR ALFRED MCCOY, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN: Guantanamo itself is a system of torture, OK? The complete isolation, the harsh conditions, the daily harsh treatment, that is a carefully constructed system, designed to break down the detainees. Now, why was David Hicks being singled out to be broken down? Very simply he was picked to be the first detainee among 700 placed before the military commissions. I think the Guantanamo Administration was trying to break him down in order to have him capitulate, co-operate and legitimate what is in fact an illegal, an uncivilised form of military justice that's been repudiated by the United Nations Commission on torture and indeed 76 eminent Australian journalists and the Attorney-General of the United Kingdom. So this was designed to break Hicks down and make him capitulate and co-operate with the military commission, something he's not done. Something that he's resisted in a way that very few of the other detainees have been able to do.

Now that the US has caved in and will allow a US representative to  take Hick's Oath of Allegiance as a citizen of Great Britain, hiding the movie from a few Indonesians doesn't look that great on our Foreign Minister's Curriculum Vitae

Watchdogs, lapdogs and railways

Don't forget that as far back as January last year US VP (and former Halliburton CEO) Cheney was advocating a pre-emptive strike on Iran by Israel.  At that time his former company was beginning to feel pressure from US pension funds for its unethical circumvention of American rogue state trading sanctions by working in Iran via a Cayman Islands office,

It was also around this time that the Bush Administration was exposed as having bugged the office of IAEA Director Mahomed ElBaradei and having transcribed conversations between him and Iranian delegates.  The resultant embarrassment seems to have reduced  the Bush Team's clout to the point where its candidate for atomic watchdog wasn't acceptable.  ElBaradei remained a watchdog, and Alexander Downer remained a lap-dog.  Had the lap-dog become a watchdog Iran might look a little different by now.

Both of these men are still pushing their own barrows.  Who knows, it might well be the same one. 

Speaking of pushing barrows, a parting thought for the evening.


South Australia - the Transport Hub of Australia

Adelaide Darwin Rail-Link map

The red line down the middle is the railway that Dick Cheny built... the one that will be pretty busy if Central Australia is exporting enriched uranium and importing nuclear waste.

Keep your eye on the ball.

More predictions please CP

CP, if you are correct and Iran does start a nuclear war with Israel then what is your prediction regarding the behaviour of Israel and the US re same?

Iran rhetoric etc.

Much has been made of the ambiguities in the Iranian President's one speech, specifically remarks about Israel. The key contention is that, in one speech, he did not literally call for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

One might dismiss one such example of this type of bellicose rhetoric, or claim it's been "taken out of context." (one of my favorite "waffles"). But unfortunately it's quite common in Iran, and long predates Ahmedinijad's rise to power. Israelis have long been used to this kind of talk from Iran, as it's been going on since the 1979 revolution. When Iran paraded their new medium-range missiles down the streets of Tehran in 2004, "Death to Israel" was emblazoned on the sides. Contextualise that, and then reconcile it with the UN Charter.

I challenge anyone. Tell me - in what "context" would this be a message implying anything other than a virtual declaration of war?

How would Australians feel if, say, Malaysia, started talking and acting towards us the way Iran is towards Israel? Think about it. I don't think anyone would be so quick to dismiss or contextualise.

Israeli defense and intel analysts, by the way, are more wary of military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, than many "hawks" in the West. Especially, their assessment is that the political and military costs of unilateral actions (by Israel or even by the US) would outweigh the possible benefits of eliminating or delaying a potential nuclear threat from Iran.

Unfortunately, if Iran does gain nuclear weapon capability, the only deterrent for them would be the threat of mutually-assured destruction, and it's not clear to me how much a deterrent this would be in the case of Iran. I hope I'm wrong.

I'm sceptical that Iran is specfically planning a nuclear strike against Israel. If they were, why would they announce it? And announce it well ahead of their ability to make good on the threat?

Oh, a war is coming alright.

Richard Tonkin: "Your good self and many others who have "been around the traps" don't feel concerned that another war might be drummed up by manipulating truth or disguising fiction."

a) Nobody has proposed going to war with Iran

b) The current regime in Iran doesn't even disguise its intention to repudiate the Non-proliferation Treaty and to illegally develop the capacity to produce weapons-grade fissionable products.

c) Opposition to this policy is multi-national and includes nations that were not part of the Coalition of the Willing

d) The Iranian regime's declared intention, made public as early 2000 (even before the current President too office), is to destroy Israel. Destroy it.

So, yup, a war is coming.

It will involve a nuclear strike on Israel by Iran.

David R: given this firm prediction, CP, care to give a date? (presumably has to be somewhere around 2020, given the lead time for Iran to get the capability  to do that)


The clincher in that Telegraph article - "scientists working at Zirzamin are required to wear standard military uniforms when entering and leaving the complex to give the impression they are involved in normal military activity. They are only allowed to change into protective clothing once inside the site."

Yep, the fact they are not out shopping in protective kit proves they are up to no good. Another one for Rumsfeld of Elbonia.

Those Uranians are darn dangerous. At least, the good folk of the People's Republic appreciate the need for bending human rights principles, for the sake of national security. But, the way things are, it is likely that John Bolton will propose someone from Iran, or Elbonia, to be next Secretary-General of the UN.

Reality dawns

C Parsons, this is the exact problem I'm having at the moment.  When you're new to all of this you're shocked by it, until the anaethetisation of the endless flood of "more of the same" blocks your mind from reacting. 

Your good self and many others who have "been around the traps" don't feel concerned that another war might be drummed up by manipulating truth or disguising fiction.  I'm  assuming that this is because you've seen it too many times before.  I haven't and it still horrifies me.

Admittedly it was no surprise that, after all the rhetoric from Bush, Rumsfeld, Howard and Downer (the name cluster rolls from the keyboard so easily now) all of the might and technology of the Coalition of the Willing was unable to uncover a single Weapon of Mass Destruction in Iraq.  What was a shock was that nobody cares.

We all know that WMD\s were only the excuse for the invasion, so we can complacently tell ourselves "told you so" as we survey the aftermath.   If the Evil Iranian Bunker is used by Israel as the excuse for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran a la Dick Cheney's hopes and dreams, then we can give ourselves another pat on the back for being alert enough to perceive the truth.

As each shred of my naivety left me I have been enraged both at what I perceived and how the information was affecting me.  Now that I know more and am much calmer about it, I miss the rage. I should be upset that another war theatre is about to start, and that hundreds of thousands more will probably die as a result.  Instead I find myself dispassionately muttering about "those bastards."

I used to think that when the general public knew what was going on the streets would be filled with protesters.  Silly me. 

Mr Parsons, isn't a sad indictment of what's been going on that none of us are suprised at anything any more?  Oh well, at least we bothered to try and find out.

Sorry if I sound bitter.  I can see now that these bastards are going to get away with anything they feel like, while the dispassionately wise and deliberately ignorant, through their inaction, give their permission via their lack of response.

Yep, reality has dawned, and I miss the sunrise.  In a way I'd rather I was still being kept in the dark.

One thing I'm proud to have gained is a sense of admiration for John Schumann and Brian Deegan, who have perceived Mr Downer as  a source of problems and attempted to eliminate him by standing against him at elections.  They, unlike us, had a go at righting the wrongs.

Reality dawns on Richard

Richard Tonkin: "If this story is indeed correct then it's awe-inspiring that none of the usual cast has commented ?"

Richard, none of us are surprised. That's why.


Brand-New Iranian Nuclear Threat

Just when it was looking like the U.S. wouldn't be able to blow up Iraq, surprising new information has unsuprisingly arisen.

Apparently there's a secret military enrichment program called Basement 27  not far from Tehran, into which scientists enter disguised in standard military uniforms before donning protective gear to continue transforming Iran into a hostile nuclear force.

Diplomats close to the IAEA are apparently perturbed .

It must be true- I read it in the UK Telegraph 

If this story is indeed correct then it's awe-inspiring that none of the usual cast has commented .  Saving it for a rainy day, perhaps?  Or could it be that the scenario is too incredible for even the likes of Our Alex to make a meal of?

The whole story reeks of WMD- Whitehouse Manipulated Disinformation. 


 ABC-AM 3/3/2006:

ALEXANDER DOWNER: If we were to export uranium to India, that would constitute a significant shift in our policy. I mean, it would open up questions of whether we'd export uranium to countries like Israel and Pakistan as well, and I think it's probably easier for us to support the current policy. It's probably better for us to give all the support we can to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And our view is we'd like India one day to sign that treaty, and we haven't withdrawn from that position.

TONY EASTLEY: Well, but is this the end of the Non-Proliferation Treaty? Because you've got the United States signing up with India, Britain and France have also hailed the deal, saying that it's a good thing. Is this the end of the NPT?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well they're right. I mean, Britain and France are right, it is a good thing. It's not the end of the NPT. Countries that have signed the NPT obviously, by definition, accede to the architecture of the NPT.

Now, one of the points about the NPT is that it acknowledges five nuclear weapon states, and all the countries other than India we've been talking about are nuclear weapon states. But over and above that, it doesn't provide for an expansion in the number of nuclear weapon states. India, Pakistan and Israel are not signatories to the NPT, so that doesn't apply.

TONY EASTLEY: So, just very quickly, no change of policy in Australia's uranium sales at this stage?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Not at this stage, no.

Condoleeza Rice (at a media conference with Downer) 16/3/06:

I really do appreciate the fact that Australia has been stalwart in also calling on Iran to find an arrangement that would be acceptable to the international community in terms of its proliferation risk and I'm sure that Australia will continue to play that very active role.

As to the India agreement, it is obvious that the agreement strengthens security by expanding the reach of the IAEA to be able now, when there is a safeguards agreement with the Indians, to have access to Indian civil nuclear facilities which it currently does not have. And I would just note that Mohamed El Baradei himself has noted that this is an important - would be an important achievement for the nonproliferation regime.

Secondly, everyone understands that a growing economy like India, this great democracy - India - that's growing rapidly, needs energy supply. And civil nuclear energy is clean. It protects the environment. It can be plentiful. And currently India is not capable of pursuing civil nuclear power to the degree that it will need to.

And finally, the United States - and I know the Prime Minister was in India just a couple of days after the President. India is a rising power in Asia and a democratic power that is rising, and it is a multiethnic, vibrant place that is finding its place in the international economy and in international politics. And we need a broad and deep relationship with this rising democracy.

And so on all those grounds, we believe that this is an important deal. I appreciate that the Australian Government, and the Minister can speak for himself, has said that they think the deal itself is a good deal. I think the issue of whether or not one decides to participate in fuel supply is a quite separable issue and it's one for the Australians to determine but not one that is at issue with the United States by any means.

Alexander Downer 10/5/06:

The argument with Iran is that it hasn't fulfilled all of the obligations it should have fulfilled for the International Atomic Energy Agency - obligations of transparency and accountability. And bearing in mind it has received some negative reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The proposition that - despite the fact there hasn't been full disclosure by the Iranians - they're moving onto enrich uranium - enrich it to the point where that uranium could relatively easily be used for military purposes, including the building of nuclear weapons - is a very deep concern of ours. And our point to the Iranians and to anybody else who would seek our view about this is that a lot of people complain about lack of adherence to resolutions or lack of resolutions even from multi-lateral organisations, like the International Atomic Energy Agency, or the United National Security Council.

Frankly, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security Council have made their positions crystal clear in relation to Iran. Iran needs to fulfil its obligations to the international community and adhere to those resolutions and implement those resolutions. If it doesn't, then further resolutions will be passed through the Security Council and I can only see them being, if I could put it this way, unhelpful to the livelihoods of the ordinary people of Iran.

Natural gas still emits C02

Richard Tonkin, natural gas although much cleaner than Coal or Oil is still a fossil fuel, and as such contributes to C02 pollution. I am not saying that nuclear power is the only answer. My concern is that the threat of climate change is so great that we need to put all the options on the table and act now with courage. If we leave it much longer are grandchildren may not survive.

Fossil Fuel Emission Levels
- Pounds per Billion Btu of Energy Input





Natural Gas












Carbon Dioxide
















Carbon Monoxide
















Nitrogen Oxides
















Sulphur Dioxide
















































Source: EIA - Natural Gas Issues and Trends 1998


The number-crunching of the beast

Syd Drate, maybe yes maybe no- I heard an ABC report that while Julie Bishop says that the result of all of those shennanigans was the location of the Lucas Heights reactor, but that she refused to rule out the use of other locations mentioned.  I'd go and look it up, but quite frankly between one thing and another I could do with a good night's sleep.

The whole thing is on it's way now- perhaps someone like Justin Tutty could  put up a thread for the  "nuclear debate" which even as a sham could promote a  possible methodology for global peace.. you never know.

At any rate Mr Howard is about to call the inquiry, so an alternative enduring thread such as The Irises  could become an interesting drop-off point.

 John Pratt, why are you so insistant that  nuclear energy is "our only" fuel option? Didn't we just get new LNG pipes from PNG and the Timor Sea ?  Oops sorrry, that was only South Australia   ;)

Happy 6/6/6 all ! (and keep your heads donw for luck)

No time to redesign

Bill Parker, I am sure you’re right; power savings of up to 30% are possible by correct building design. We do need governments to take the greenhouse threat seriously and bring in legislation to encourage better design. How long do you think it would take to redesign all the inefficient buildings in Australia? Where will all the tradesmen coming from to do the work? I believe the design option will be too slow to really change our C02 output. The threat of climate change is with us now. We may need more electrical energy if we move to hybrid vehicles. We might also need more power for desalination plants to ease our water problems. I think demand for energy is going to increase even with better design. I still see no other option if we really are serious about reducing our use of fossil fuels. Nuclear is the only option.

No time to Redesign

It is not an option to re-design all existing high energy consuming buildings. But it is an option to mandate any renovation over say $15,000 to be energy rated to see what the effect on the re-furbished would be (and recommend the fix at shire level if needed). That can be done right now. We can build low energy NEW buildings for whatever purpose, domestic or commercial.

It can be done right now, certainly for domestic residences, a little more complex for commercial. The tradesmen already have the skills as bricklayers, carpenters and so on. They do not have to change anything. Neither in fact do HVAC people or mech. engineers involved with buildings. The methodologies are out there right now. You stop paying consulting engineers on equipment size rather energy usage minimization. Do-able right now. The biggest household energy consumer is water heating. Gas boosted solar hot water systems work wherever you live. You just get more sun in the north, spend slighly more on gas in the south. Like South Australia, all states should ban electric water heaters (even electric boosted solars). Allow the solat hot water industry some months to gear up and they will deal with increased demand. It requires governments to provide incentives (and its an infrastructure offset/saving of course). It can be done right now.

Water? We treat it with contempt. The pricing regimes are wrong. Provide equitable amounts at very low cost and really rack up the price for profligacy. It can be done right now.

Hybrid cars do need electricity. The example of Sacramento CA is the guide - carparks with photovoltaic (PV) cells - the car owner plugs in for the day and it charges whilst at work. Excess goes to grid. It can be done right now and the installations will last for decades if properly secured. Not rocket science, no R&D needed. Its another rght now. Every new home could have PV as part of its roof. Excess to the grid. It can be done right now.

None of the above can occur without government investment both state territority and federal. But the change will occur very rapidly indeed if they collectively saw fit.

Nuclear power is an option that will take decades to come on stream even if we decide to go that way. We will have then the waste legacy and almost certainly that will find its home a long way from the eastern seaboard in SA or WA. And its safety is not beyond doubt.

Corrosive groundwater will always be a challenge (you get that in the geostable regions) and a risk no matter how many layers we might place around waste silos. The stuff is there for thousands of years.

Its time for the nuclear debate.

Justin Tutty you wrote: “I believe that "science" is impartial, whereas the green movement stand as firmly as ever against the nuclear threat.”

How can you say science is impartial and the green movement is standing firmly against nuclear power?

Wake up Justin the times, they are a changing.

The following are statements of James Lovelock “The father of the green movement” and David King chief scientist for the UK.

“Sir David King, the Government's chief scientist, was far-sighted to say that global warming is a more serious threat than terrorism. He may even have underestimated, because, since he spoke, new evidence of climate change suggests it could be even more serious, and the greatest danger that civilisation has faced so far.”

“Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media. These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources. We must stop fretting over the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals or radiation. Nearly one third of us will die of cancer anyway, mainly because we breathe air laden with that all pervasive carcinogen, oxygen. If we fail to concentrate our minds on the real danger, which is global warming, we may die even sooner, as did more than 20,000 unfortunates from overheating in Europe last summer.

See here: http://www.ecolo.org/media/articles/articles.in.english/love-indep-24-05-04.htm

"By all means, let us use the small input from renewables sensibly, but only one immediately available source does not cause global warming and that is nuclear energy.”

Nuclear still the only choice.

Justin Tutty, you’re convinced that the best way for Australia to reduce our national carbon profile is through a combination of demand reduction and energy efficiency measures. I have not seen any evidence of demand reduction being successful anywhere, more likely demand for electrical energy will increase especially if we move into electric powered motor vehicles. Like you I agree that we should try and reduce our energy demands by being more efficient. I doubt very much if efficiency measures will reduce the amount of C02 emissions necessary. Science is split, as is the green movement on the issue of nuclear power. I believe we need the debate and we need to look at all solutions to climate change.

I have read the websites you have posted, none of which has been strong enough to convince me that nuclear power and  eventually fusion is not our only choice.

See here:  http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/content/fusion6.html

“Like conventional nuclear (fission) power, fusion power stations will produce no 'greenhouse' gases - and will not contribute to global warming. As fusion is a nuclear process the fusion power plant structure will become radioactive - by the action of the energetic fusion neutrons on material surfaces. However, this activation decays rapidly and the time span before it can be re-used and handled can be minimised (to around 50 years) by careful selection of low-activation materials. In addition, unlike fission, there is no radioactive 'waste' product from the fusion reaction itself. The fusion by product is Helium - an inert and harmless gas.”

Nuclear Still the Only Choice

John Pratt has "not seen any evidence of demand reduction being succesful anywhere". All buildings consume energy but not all buildings are deliberately designed to use less and not all have been audited to see what can be saved. I'll start with auditing. My experience in an energy auditing business was simple - 10% can nearly always be saved without capital expense. As options for bigger savings are examined, there is usually a capital expense, but that can be written off over time and in most cases the "payback" is relatively short. Savings of 20 - 30% are normal. Our record was 42%. Promote and support auditing as was done ten years ago. It works and it is successful.

The design aspects are less easy but most certainly do-able and very successful two examples in Melbourne of low energy renovations are 60L and 40 Albert Road. Excellent examples of what can be done in renovation. There are numerous numerous other examples right around the world of de novo structures that use the local climate rather than fight it. Demand Management for the consumer is just a marketing ploy for most energy retailers. A feel good. What if they got serious about reducing household demand? I live very comfortably on 6kWhday of electricity, way below the average for the city where I live. I use gas for cooking and boosting my solar hot water system and the sun for heating and cooling.

I am not convinced of the need for nuclear energy for electricity generation purposes. But I am convinced that we need a mixture of good design (mandated through local government regulations just like plumbng and electrical fittings) the maximum use of building integrated photovoltaics, solar hot water systems and the various solar and wind technologies. And do not forget geothermal. All of these technologies and ideas a right here, right now. Nuclear is not, and geosequestration is a very long way off.

give nuclear the full flush

Last things first: Let me address your reference to the tokamak project.

The quote you provide claims that fission power stations produce no greenhouse gases. Well, nuclear reactors do release some greenhouse pollutants, but in truth these are so much less in volume compared to other power plants as to be negligible. The real greenhouse burden of nuclear occurs at all other stages:

  • mining (generally powered by diesel, and which will quickly become prohibitively expensive and carbon intensive as the few large deposits of high grade ore are exploited)
  • enriching (which involves significant ozone depleting gases, which are hundreds of times more active as greenhouse effect elevators than is carbon dioxide)
  • reprocessing (another energy intensive burden)
  • decommissioning of power plants which reach their 20 year old use-by date
  • management of nuclear wastes (legislative responsibility extends to 1000 years, though the realities of the environmental burden go way beyond this, virtually representing a perpetual cost)

So while nuclear reactors seem relatively clean (overlooking the inevitable planned and unplanned radioactive releases, as experienced at Lucas Heights and at every other reactor around the world), investment in nuclear power certainly does contribute to global warming. In fact just the mining of uranium fuel is so fuel intensive as to be prohibitive once the size and quality of ore falls below a certain benchmark.

For better or worse, fission is the technology currently being rammed down our throats, whereas fusion is a technology which simply demands huge funding while still failing to produce more energy than it consumes. The JET project reported in an April media release:

The construction costs of ITER are estimated at 4.7 billion Euro over ten years, a large part of which will be awarded in the form of contracts to industrial companies and fusion research institutions. Another five billion Euros are foreseen for the twenty-year exploitation period.

Contrast this with renewable technologies such as wind and solar, which are paying broad dividends (in energy production and greenhouse savings) around the world (and here in Australia) despite being largely starved of investment and opportunity.

We don't have time to invest heavily into unproven technologies such as geosequestration, "cleaner" coal, nuclear fusion or thorium. These proposals threaten to continue to starve much needed funding from genuine proven climate solutions. If we choose to make one of these expensive gambles, we could end up in a worse situation than we find ourselves in today, with less time and money to work on a genuine response to the climate crisis. Our immediate investment must be in measures and methods already known to be winners.

I don't accept that the barriers to demand reduction and energy efficiency are as great as you suggest : just look at the dual flush toilet. No one was willing to stick out their neck and spend a few dollars more for an efficient flush, until government gave a mandate, and now they're everyhwere, saving 25% of every toilet's water consumption. The same immediate savings will be experienced once we find leaders with the political will to require us to implement energy efficiency at every obvious opportunity. A number of studies reported in the reference you've already read clearly describe what savings can be expected by a determined focus on these no-regrets / fast-returns options for climate action.

You claim that "Science is split, as is the green movement on the issue of nuclear power." I believe that "science" is impartial, whereas the green movement stand as firmly as ever against the nuclear threat.

Nuclear Alex' and his leaky atomic briefs

I love the new name that Kevin Rudd has given Alexander Downer, and hope that it sticks.  Perhaps he could have an appropriate costume- one modelled along the lines of, say, Captain America ?

"I think Mr Downer has looped out completely on this one," Labor Foreign Affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said yesterday.

"Nuclear power plants just outside of Adelaide - I mean, what planet is Mr Downer on at the moment?  Nuclear Alex, that's who we've now got as a Foreign Minister."

South Australian Premier Mike Rann said that Downer's views differed from those of Finance Minister Nick Minchin, who has previously cited the costs of nucllear power as prohibitive (Source- ABC Online

I wonder what Rann thinks of the eight-year-old confidential Cabinet document published by the SMH today.  It lists fourteen possible reactor sites, including Woomera, Adelaide, South Darwin, Perth, Goulburn Valley and Broken Hill,  and warned that releasing the locations would "unnecessarily alarm communities."

Hang on, didn't Mr D just tell the Victor Harbor Times on Friday that there were no plans for a nuclear reactor in Australa?  This document demonstrates that plans have existed for some time.

Doesn't this prove Alexander Downer has been lying? 

Rudd madness

Richard Tonkin, looks like you have done it again listening to those incompetants in the Labor Party regarding the leaked document. Rudd and Macklin coming out with comments that shows that their mouths work quicker than their brains, still I suppose after 12 months of having nothing to say to the electorate they thought they would say something. It now appears that the leaked cabinet document referred to reactor sites like Lucas Heights and not power stations. Anyway what is wrong with having a nuclear power station in Adelaide, I have been to Adelaide on 4 occasions and have always found it uninhabitable, so if there was a nuclear accident there another 100,000 years of uninhabability would not make much difference.

It looks as though Labor are going to go to the next election on the AWB, IR and Nuclear power, that's easier than having policies. Goody bring it on. Shouldn't Rudd change his name to Fudd.

Nuclear waste is not as dangerous as climate change.

Richard, we agree and, strangely enough, we agree with Mr Downer:

“in the environmental practicalities of nuclear power - if only we could solve little problems like environmental impact from containment breach over the next 20,000 years! Then the leadership decisions might be more straightforward. At the end of the day though, whether using nuclear fuel for ourselves or retrieving nuclear debris from countries we supply, we can't find a way of containing radioactive material until the end of its life expectancy. The main issue is that we don't leave this problem as our legacy to our grandchildren.”

I believe that the problem of the environmental impact of nuclear waste is small compared to that of an overheating planet. It is my grandchildren that I am worried about. If we don’t react in the next few years to reduce our carbon dioxide output we are dooming generations to come. We are risking the future of the planet. Nuclear waste is a much easier problem to solve than a planet that is 6 degrees warmer. Global warming could last for over 100,000 years. Here

Distraction from genuine solutions more dangerous than N-waste

Richard, John; I agree that the energy debate should be focused on the pending global climate meltdown, but I'm not comfortable getting into a discussion comparing the weights of our carbon burden with our nuclear waste burden : in fact, I don't accept that our future must be dominated by one or the other.

I am convinced that the best way for Australia to reduce our national carbon profile is through a combination of demand reduction and energy efficiency measures.

Rather than limiting our vision to current technologies for current base load demands, we should be working towards a future built around sustainable renewable energy technologies, decentralised production and more careful consumption habits.
The research shows that investment in energy efficiency is up to seven times more effective (in carbon savings per dollar) than investing in nuclear power. By comparison, the proposal to replace all our coal power stations with nuclear plants fails to stand up. Nuclear reactors are slow to build, dangerous to operate and expensive to decommission. Implementing energy efficiency, on the other hand, could present significant savings, financial and environmental, with a quick turn-around and no regrets.

I do not agree that nuclear pollution is any worse (or better!) than carbon pollution : both are unacceptable, threaten the entire future of the whole planet, and must be minimised.

Neither do I agree that nuclear waste is the only downside to nuclear power. I remain concerned about pollution from nuclear power plants (planned and unplanned radioactive emissions as experienced at Lucas Heights, and associated ozone depleting and greenhouse gas pollution due to fuel enrichment) and the legacy of abandoned contaminated uranium mines dotting this country. And as this discussion has already explored, nuclear power has always been tightly bound to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. With more nations jostling to join the nuclear club, the U.S.A. abandoning previous commitments and pursuing a new range of nuclear weapons (designed for deployment, rather than deterrence), as our leaders themselves raise the spectre of nuclear armed terrorists and as Australia ramps up our own weapons capabilities, this is as true today as it was last century.

But even greater than all these unresolved problems with the uranium industry, I believe that the biggest danger of the nuclear non-option is that it threatens to distract us from a genuine response to climate change.

John, did you ever chase up the reference I gave you
(Nuclear Power - no solution to climate change, Friends of the Earth, currently available at  http://www.melbourne.foe.org.au/documents.htm)
last time we discussed this issue here.

The same thread also referred to a recent New Scientist article on why nuclear power is a dead end

I'm glad to see that you have since abandoned your claim to a solution for nuclear waste, and now recognise it to be an unsolved problem. As I recall it, you were entertaining the irrational fantasy of extracting uranium from seawater. Do you now recognise that viable deposits of uranium fuel are far too limited to be considered as a blanket response to even reduced global energy demands?

I repeat that in the face of the serious and immediate threat of global climate meltdown, it would be tragic to waste what precious time, energy, finances and other resources we have at our disposal, on such a slow, costly, draining non-solution as nuclear.

Downer advocates nuclear powered water desalination

 Mr Downer's on the front page of the Adelaide paper, this time advocating the use of nuclear power to energise water desalination.   The language used bears all the hallmarks of a Halliburton/KBR media release.

[extract from Saturday's Advertiser]

South Australia should consider building a nuclear power station to run a desalination plant that could supply half of Adelaide's water, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday.

In a speech in Adelaide to the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Mr Downer said a nuclear-powered desalination plant could curb demand on River Murray water by 75 per cent.

In what was likely to be seen as a new front in the campaign for a domestic nuclear industry, Mr Downer said nuclear technologies should be considered in terms of their capacity to limit emissions. "It (assessment) should include the potential for complementary processes such as desalination," Mr Downer said.

He said that coupling a nuclear power station with a desalination plant, in places such as SA that faced power and water shortages, would make the idea very attractive.

"For example, it may be possible to build a nuclear power plant in SA supplying 1000 megawatts an hour of electricity and 75 gigalitres of water at a cost in the order of $2.5 to $3 billion," he told the conference.

"For example, it may be possible to build a nuclear power plant in SA supplying 1000 megawatts an hour of electricity and 75 gigalitres of water at a cost in the order of $2.5 to $3 billion," he told the conference.

 If you believe that, you\ll believe that Korean missiles could strike Sydney!

John Pratt, I agree with you, (and, strangely enough, Mr Downer) in the environmental practicalities  of nuclear power - if only we could solve little problems like environmental impact from containment breach over the next 20,000 years! Then the leadership decisions might be more straightforward. At the end of the day though, whether using nuclear fuel for ourselves or retrieving nuclear debris from countries we supply, we can't find a way of containing radioactive material until the end of its life expectancy. The main issue is that we don't leave this problem as our legacy to our grandchildren.

Yes, John, you're right - strong leadership is called for, but not the kind that is desperate to be perceived as a proponent of nuclear power while its population rejects both nuclear sales and the globalisation of natural assets such as the Snowy River water system engineered by Messrs Brown and Root (read the right-hand column here).

Consideration that, through this debate, we're playing into the hands of companies controlling oil and LNG needs to be taken at this point in time.

We need the nuclear debate

Richard Tonkin, if the politicians came clean on the threat of climate change, which I believe poses a much bigger threat to us than terrorism, then more people would be interested in the nuclear debate. “The 21st century could see temperatures rise 3 to 8 degrees, weather patterns sharply shift, ice sheets shrink and seas rise several feet.”

See Here.

We need to find an energy source that can cover base load demand.

The only fuel which is a present option for base-load electricity is uranium. While large amounts of ore may be mined and treated, two or three 200-litre drums of uranium oxide (U308) concentrate leaving the mine contain enough energy to keep large cities supplied with power for a day, so it is relatively very portable. It also has some environmental advantages. See Here.

If all those people currently moving to beach front properties realised that their properties may be worthless due to rising sea levels. If people understood that the price of food will sky rocket, for example bananas now at about ten dollars a kilo compared to two dollars a kilo just a few month ago due to an increase in cyclonic activity. The droughts now being experienced across the globe will also increase the cost of food supplies. Millions will come under the threat of starvation.

We need the nuclear debate now and we need honest and courageous leaders like never before.

No Plants, No Enrichment -The Public Tells Newspoll

 It appears that all of the nuclear publicity has backfired in the face of the Government.  A Newspoll conducted last week showed that 51 per cent of its respondents did not want nuclear power plants to be built in Australia.  

59 per cent were against Australia enriching uranium for export.  In response to another question  44% believed that no new mines should be opened and 26% said that there should be no uranium mining at all.  Putting these two together gives you a whopping 70% against the creation of more mines.

On being asked whether Australia should have other reactors than the experimental Lucas Heights facility, 38% were in favour of more nuclear plants, 51% were against and 11% undecided. 

In other words, even if the Australian Government could convince the fence-sitters to agree with the concept, the nation would be still be evenly divided on the issue. As for enriching uranium for export, PM Howard's chances of winning a majority approval are as strong as a snowball's chance of a suntan in a reactor.

It's a pity that while they were at it Murdoch's pollsters didn't ask the public what it thought about "uranium leasing."

No plan for australian nuclear plant- Downer

In a coastal town at the shores of Mr Downer's Mayo electorate, the nuclear debate is rippling through the community.

Downer's fellow S.A. Senator Anne McEwen has cheekily suggested that the tourism city of Victor Harbor, known to many as "God's Waiting Room" would be an ideal site because of the abundance of water.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has responded rather cattily to the suggestion, describing McEwen as a senator that nobody has heard of.

"There is no plan to build a nuclear power station anywhere in the whole of Australia, least of all in Victor Harbor." Mr Downer told the Victor Harbor Times.

Oil To The Fire- Downer vs the IAEA

Is the Bush Administration's preferred IAEA Director going toe-to-toe with the UN's nuclear watchdog?  While Mahomed ElBaradai is telling the US to back off in its aggressive nuclear stance with Iran, the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister is using the threat of sanctions as a diplomatic weapon.

A week after energy giant General Electric announced its acquisition of Australian-developed uranium enrichment technology (see Justin Tutty's last post here)   Mr Downer today has supported US State Secretary Condoleeze Rice's diplomatic proposal by urging Iran to cease the enrichment of uranium, and engage in a nuclear dialogue with the U.S.

The five permanent UN Security Council members (the U.S., Russia, China, France and Britain) along with Germany are expected to ratify a package of incentives for Iran to discontinue uranium enrichment The deal would be proposed ahead of a European Union?U.S. summit in Vienna at the end of June.  

Under an agreement signed in 2003 Russian uranium used in Iranian nuclear reactors is returned to Russia.  and in 2005 an IAEA report identified Russia as the ideal site for an international nuclear repository, with a view to allowing countries with unstable regimes to  access nuclear-generated electricity while preventing possible non-peaceful activities.  Greenpeace says that the U.S., Canada and Australia have opposed this plan.


Minister Downer told Parliament yesterday that the new U.S. attitude``institutes a very significant change in American policy in dealing with Iran and it's a change that we think is constructive,'' 

``Iran can choose that path and be rewarded by constructive and full engagement with the rest of the world, including with the United States,'' Downer said.

He added that if Tehran did not accept the U.S. proposal " Iran will be isolated and there ... is always the prospect that either through the U.N. Security Council or on bilateral bases, a series of sanctions including financial sanctions could be imposed,''

According to The Australian's Greg Sheridan the Whitehouse considers Australian support of international sanctions important in gaining support for the idea from other countries. Sheridan also reports that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has produced a confidential paper on the Bush Administration's proposed sanctions.

Iran is currently the subject of "rogue state" trading sanctions, which prohibit U.S. corporations and nationals from commerce. The US energy giant Halliburton circumvents these regulations by engaging with Iran through its Cayman Islands subsidiary Halliburton Products and Services.  While the company claims that this subsidiary is operated from Dubai, A CBS crew were told by a Cayman Islands employee that all mail from Iran was forwarded directly to Houston.

IEA Director ElBaradai said this week that "Our assessment is that there is no immediate threat,  We still have lots of time to investigate."

"You look around in the Middle East right now and it's a total mess," he said. "You can not add oil to that fire."  The 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner added that  the recent violent history in Iraq bears an important lesson for diplomacy with neighboring Iran,and that. "We should not jump the gun. We should be very careful about assessing the information available to us,"

Mr El Baradai also stated that the US should not force Iran into a retaliation to international sanctions, as had occurred with North Korea.

Solomon Islands in Iraq ?

This is a little off-topic, but possibly relevant

It's of interest that while companies from countries such as China, Germany and Canada were not allowed to tender for Iraq reconstruction contracts, our little troubled neighbour, the Solomon Islands was given permission to bid.

Sweden, Ireland, Austria, and Finland, all neutral countries, were also cut off from the spoils. According to Bloomberg, of the 15 European Union states, only six are approved. They are the U.K., Italy, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, and Denmark. All have sent soldiers or police forces to Iraq.

Countries that were deemed as acceptable candidates to submit company tenders included
Palau, Micronesia, Tonga, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, and Angola

The reason that the Solomons was included in the list is that the country supported the U.S. in Iraq.  I would suggest that the level of support that this country was able to provide would have been extemely minimal... that is, unless  a company such as Halliburton were  operating from a Solomons related shelf company.

I'm confused again.  Perhaps Mr Downer could explain ?

laser enrichment of nuclear fuel (WARNING : seditious content)

NOTE: Seditious content : The (Nuclear) Non-Proliferation Legislation Amendment Bill 2003 makes it illegal for the public to scrutinise the activities of nuclear research companies like Silex, who are engaged in uranium enrichment research.

But I couldn't help myself when, after fumbling around for some old files on SILEX, the secretive uranium enrichment corporation (based on commonwealth land at Lucas Heights, with shadowy links to both the Australian and U.S. governments) I discovered last week's announcement of a commercialisation agreement with GE for their laser enrichment technologies.

From their website, 22 May 2006:

Silex Systems Limited is pleased to announce the signing of an exclusive Commercialisation and License Agreement for the SILEX Uranium Enrichment Technology with General Electric Company (GE:NYSE). The transaction is subject to receipt of government approvals.

The agreement provides for a phased approach to the commercialisation of the SILEX Technology and the potential construction of a test loop, pilot plant, and a full-scale commercial enrichment facility. These operations would be built at GE’s existing nuclear energy headquarters and technology site in Wilmington N.C. or another suitable location in the U.S. “We are delighted to have secured General Electric as our commercialisation partner for the SILEX Technology. Despite the size differences, GE and Silex share a crucial corporate trait - a dedication to technological innovation. While Silex developed the technology concept, GE has the required technological and commercial capabilities to take it to the next level and beyond” he added.

"GE is very excited about the transaction and the potential of this innovative technology. We are looking forward to the completion of its development and bringing this product to the global marketplace,” said Andy White, President and CEO of GE’s Nuclear Business.

“By acquiring the exclusive rights to complete the development and commercial deployment of Silex’s enrichment technology, GE will be in a strong position to support anticipated demands for enriched uranium” White said.

GE is one of the largest industrial companies in the world, with a market capitalisation of ~US$350 billion. Through its Nuclear Energy business unit, GE is a leading supplier of nuclear power plants and related engineering and fuel services.

Silex goes on to detail the terms of their agreement with GE, most notably, a committment to fund a 3 year test loop and pilot plant projects, to be followed by deployment of commercial enrichment plants.

Our friends at Greenpeace report that:

The existing Australia-US Agreement Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy does not apply to transfers of "sensitive nuclear technology", unless specifically provided for by amendment of that Agreement or by a separate agreement.

For the SILEX technology transfer to take place a US-AUST bi-lateral agreement was required.

A national interest analysis conducted by the international security division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) determined that it would be necessary to amend the Nuclear Non-proliferation (Safeguards) act of 1987 to add to the list of “prescribed agreements” and to make a similar amendments to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act (ARPANSA) 1998.

The fact that the Australian Government is allowing a privately listed company to conduct research into dual use technologies, using a facility that publicly claims to be a medical research facility raises serious security issues.

It may contrast poorly to the claims that Iraq was conducting secret weapons programs, but only had decade-old centrifuges.

Now, perhaps the timing of this announcement was an opportunistic commercial decision, made on the back of the Howard tour, but nonetheless I think it is significant to recognise just how far down the path towards enrichment Australia has already progressed, given the heavy implications of Total Product Stewardship and Uranium Leasing. Indeed, one of the assurances given against the threat of receiving the world's nuclear waste was that we export yellowcake, not nuclear fuel. The growing likelihood that we could export enriched nuclear fuel only strengthens the likelihood that we'll get dumped with unwanted nuclear waste.

Here's how AAP reported Howard's words :

"The concept of nuclear leasing implies that the party providing the fuel takes back the spent rods, if I can put it that way, after the use has been expended," Howard told reporters in a 36-minute media conference after his meetings with US administration officials.

"We accept responsibilities for waste that we are responsible for and if we sell uranium to another country, that is quite separate from providing nuclear fuel.

"Nuclear fuel is not uranium - uranium is the raw material, if I can put it that way. It's like bauxite into alumina."

He told Bodman that Australia wanted to be kept informed of developments in the US plan, which could affect Australian exports.

Don't we know it.

An Atomic Pandora's Box

Justin Tutty, that's quite a Pandora's box you've opened up there.  It leaves open the possibility that Australian-developed technology might have been utilised in Iraq though use of a third-party country privately listed company.

Then there's the maybe of new-technology pilot commercial plants being developed in Australia.   Then there's the maybe of using "our" abilities to become an enriching country.

With everything being done under the auspices of General Electric, who are going to be the prime player in India, from what you say (not to mention the extraordinary coincidence in timing of the GE/Silex announcement) it sounds like Australia has been efficiently pre-organised.

President Bush requests Indian nuclear waste be sent here

Richard Tonkin: "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."

Okay. Time's up.

G'day C. Parsons.

Well said.  I have already written a piece about my suspicions of Howard's sudden and uncharacteristic concern over the Indigenous Australians - but ONLY in the Northern Territory.  Strange when it is reported that the W.A. Aboriginies are the "worst off" in Australia? 

I believe sincerely that this is merely another Howardism to facilitate some desolate land in that Territory for Nuclear Waste - and I agree that it will be dictated by Howard's controller - George W. Bush.  

Howard's  fascist intentions of complete domination of the Australian political landscape is even more frightening now than at any other time.  I cringe every time the State Labor Governments concede anything to Howard's government of depraved indifference.  We see NSW and Victoria agreeing to the sale of our Snowy River Scheme - South Australia and Tasmania agreeing to hand over their CORPORATIONS power to this already too powerful little schoolboy - and Costello threatening the rest in Parliament.  Will he blackmail them again with Meg Lees GST?  I watch with embarrassment the performance of his Parliament and feel betrayed that the Opposition parties, especially Labor, accept the disgrace without any meaningful protest.

As all polls of opinion have shown, Howard will do what is best for the United States NOT what our people want.  The so-called "Nuclear debate" will be a farce no matter who attends or what is wanted by the majority.  With respect to your mention of India - you are quite right.  Thanks to the US they already have nuclear weapons and are not signatories to the treaty of non-proliferation. 

The largest and most obvious danger of the 21st century is that signatories to treaties;  the International Criminal Court;  The International Human Rights or any other well-meaning document - means nothing to the Bush regime and his client state Australia.  Just a headlong rush to Globilisation where the independence and identity of Nations will disappear and only Corporations will exist. 

There has to be a brake applied to Howard somehow.  Congratulations to the young people of Victoria who are using the Howard laws of "business under any circumstance" to stop the exploitation of the escalating number of part time/casual youngsters.   Ne Oublie.

Time\s Up

Yep, C Parsons, I blew that one.   It seemed a likely possibility at the time, given that Bush and Howard were in the same city.  However I hadn't taken into account that the two leaders, (and Tony Blair) were about to simultaneously institute different aspects of the same campaign.

It wasn't till after I published the piece that Bush announced a rush-job o U.S.- Indian nuclear legislation, Blair announced a revitalisation of the nuclear industry, somebody pre-publicised a pro-nuclear Australian inquiry finding, and John Howard launched the Australian nuclear debate from Canada.

If I'd known that all this was about to happen I would not have made such a presumption as I did.  The last thing Howard and Bush would want right now would be any media portrayal that the campaigns in two nations are being conducted from the same office.  At least, not yet.

You still might see such a photo, but not for a year or so

Woomera Reactor Consortium Bid

I'll keep leaving things here as they turn up. This one feels like a "surprise cameo"

Who's involved in an unexpected consortium proposal for a nuclear reactor at Woomera?

Australian foundation member of the International Nuclear Energy Acaa demy Professor Leslie Kememy has spearheaded a push for a reactor near South Australia's Spaceport, and a feasibility study for a three billion dollar reactor was being conducted.

Leslie, who told Adelaide's Advertiser that he had been hired by a consortium as a technical consultant, but declined to give their name

By any chance could this be relevant to using nuclear propulsion in extraterrestrial excursions?

Acting Premier Foley rejected the proposal last night, but as the decision will no doubt be made at Federal level, he's piddling into the wind.

The dissemination of the distraction

The story is now playing itself out from Washington to Portland, or rather the next city down the road

[extract from the Warrnambool Standard]

PORTLAND would be a potential terrorist target if Australia's first nuclear power plant was built on its shores, Glenelg Shire Council Mayor Frank Zeigler warned yesterday.

Cr Zeigler said heightened terrorist attention would come with such a major power supplier and called for community debate on the issue.

Left-wing think-tank The Australia Institute, an independent public policy research centre, labelled the Portland coastline this week as Australia's best location for such a facility with its sea water cooling power vital in the nuclear energy process.

The Australia Institute executive director Dr Clive Hamilton said Portland's coastal location with its links to the national power grid for transition lines put it ahead of the six other proposed east-coast locations.

Dr Hamilton said Portland's proximity to a major load centre (Melbourne), the Portland smelter and its port access for import of fuel rods all made it a favourable location.

Ironically, the Port of Portland's current CEO and marketing manager are both leaving for new jobs.

The people of Portland will have their eyes open.  We were promised a "boom" in 1980 when the aluminium smelter was built, and the city has, in my opinion, only just begun to find its feet after that particular upheaval.  However, the town I grew up in is long gone. 

In little ol' Adelaide, the Advertiser managed to convince 4 out of 40 mayors to say "yes" to hosting a nuclear power plant and has somehow included all the maybes to attempt to portray near-total municipal-level support of the idea of hosting a nuclear reactor.


MAYORS of South Australian councils Whyalla, Kingston, Karoonda East Murray and Barunga West want a nuclear power plant in their area.

A further 12 leaders from regions, including the Yorke Peninsula, West Coast, Riverland and Flinders Ranges, would consider being home to the nation's first nuclear plant.

Only nine regional SA mayors out of 28 questioned by The Advertiser yesterday were totally opposed to a nuclear plant in their area.

Abracadabra! The worries about taking back Indian nuclear waste have vanished!

Downer and WMD Lies

In 2002, at a time when, as we now know, the Department of Foreign Affair and Trade was receiving information that the Australian Wheat Board was possibly involved in direct payments to the Iraq Government, Alexander Downer was telling the Australian Parliament why we needed to overthrow Saddam.  The prime motive, of course, was Weapons Of Mass Destruction.

[extract from Downer's speech to Parliament, Sept 17 2002

As with chemical and biological weapons, the Australian Government has no reason to believe that Saddam Hussein has abandoned his ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. All the circumstances suggest the opposite.

Australian intelligence agencies believe there is evidence of a pattern of acquisition of equipment which could be used in a uranium enrichment program. Iraq's attempted acquisition of very specific types of aluminium tubes may be part of that pattern.

Iraq still has the expertise and the information to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program and may have continued work on uranium enrichment and weapons design.

And Iraq could shorten the lead-time for producing nuclear weapons if it were able to acquire fissile material from elsewhere. The International Institute for Strategic Studies — an independent research organisation — concluded that Saddam Hussein could build a nuclear bomb within months if he were able to obtain fissile material.

Iraq may also be using its program for the development of short-range missiles, permitted by the UN, to develop prohibited longer-range missiles. There have been recent indications, including in intelligence, of new construction work on missile-related production and test facilities. Iraq may be developing longer-range missiles prohibited by Security Council resolution 687.

The sad thing is that while a retired CIA analyst is publicly challenging Donald Rumseld regarding the falsehood of the Defence Secretary's "knowledge" of WMD's.  Downer is instead being challenged as to his involvement in the AWB kickbacks.

Actually, a much sadder thing is that the two situations could be linked.

How do we expect a Government that leads us to war on the the fabricated (and now rebutted)  "prima facie evidence" of WMD's  to conduct a nuclear debate that is anything but conducive to political plans?  If Downer is involved.. two chances, one being Buckley's .

Oh Johhny Boy

In the spirit of Irish-Australian relationships I've written a set of lyrics that could be sung after the PM addresses the Dáil on Tuesday.

(set to the tune of Derry Air)

Oh, Johnny boy, the pipes, the pipes are glowing
with compliments from Halliburton's crew
Tony Blair is coveting uranium,
but Mickey Rann is there, a-trying for a screw

So come ye back, to Parliament on Thursday
and do your job, now that you're in the know,
and you'll be rich- just do what Cheney tells you
Oh Johnny Boy, Oh Johhny Boy I love you so.

Take care, while travellin' round in Dublin
take care, when you meet an Irish Miss
that you don't ask "Can I stoke your reactor?"
the Dublin one's just like a Glasgow Kiss

So come ye back to Parliament on Thursday
Before Costello warms your seat in nuclear glow
To cast Australia in atomic shadow
Oh Johnny boy, oh Johnny boy, I love you so

Conflicting views

To get into the spirit of things, this was sent off to give a lift to the artful wedge-master:

Letters editor, The Australian

John Howard seems to have deflected his poll-dip by raising the nuclear bogey, and had the satisfaction of watching editors ask how high to jump. Or, maybe he was trying to distract away from the atrocious conditions in remote indigenous communities. Perhaps he sensed that voters regarded his priapic carnival with the Bush family and its hangers-on was a touch self-indulgent.

There may be an awkward interlude in the flow of wisdom, while he assesses Peter Costello's performance on the slaughterhouse floor of Parliament. He may harbour a doubt that his anointed successor will not triumph over a semi-moribund Kim Beazley.

Hang on! Here's an item to hold in reserve, in case the audience cannot sustain its ire over the AWB scandal, or the Iraq quagmire, or the abuse of children. Fisheries authorities report the banana prawn season has produced a bumper crop. Now, that's newsworthy, and I expect an appropriate Prime Ministerial comment from Dublin.

Another one for the round file, no doubt.

Rann in London? Another round of fairy bread at the bonobos picnic.

Howard in Ireland? Where's me shillelagh, begorrah!

Tennant Creek unstable ? What about KBR ?

Justin Tutty, your comments about the tectonically-unstable Tennant Creek site being considered most likely for a repository (which appear as part of your GLW piece) ring alarm bells when compared to this New York Times story on a KBR pipeline bungle in Iraq. 


The most blatant warning came from the study that KBR had commissioned from Fugro South, a geotechnical firm.  The study stated repeatedly that the project should not begin without extensive field exploration and laboratory testing of the area.

KBR went ahead with the work without sharing the report with senior oil officials in Iraq.  Nor did it carry out the testing that the report strongly recommended.

The report had cited "past tectonic activities near the site."  The words, suggesting slippage of the earth's crust in eons past, would prove prophetic.

...  The area had turned out to be a fault zone, where two great pieces of the earth's crust had shifted and torn the underground terrain into jagged boulders, voids, cobblestones and gravel.  It was just the kind of "tectonic" shift that the Fugro report had warned of- hardly the smooth clays and sandstones that KBR had suggested the drillers would find.


South Australian Premier Mike Rann isn't known as "Media Mike" for nothing.  This is why it's suprising that Rann has made a trip to England with no public fanfare.  His website isn't even operative to convey his media releases!

Mr Rann usally makes great media mileage from his visits, proposing M-1 tank reconstruction facilities, visiting warship contract contenders, generally publicising his intentions from the perceived locales of "the horse's mouth"  This is why it's surprising that the best our Premier has had to offer is that our defence contract bids are to be managed by a man who doesn't live in South Australia.  Rann's climate change consulant, by the way, is also about to become a Sydney resident.

The editorial in today's Australian may be right in saying that Rann's just flogging our wine and tourism.  But this doesn't explain the lack of publicity of the trip from a man who would open a chook raffle if it provided a photo-op.

Viewed in context with the international whirlwind of publicity surrounding international uranium sales, and in the light of UK PM Tony Blair's recently announced plans to revitalise the UK's nuclear power industry, an "unannounced" visit by the head dignitary of a uranium-rich locale could be perceived as a "shock-tactic" in nuclear salesmanship. 

Think about it.. Blair says that the UK needs more uranium, and in a heartbeat Premier Rann is on his doorstep.

No doubt Mr Rann's job will be done before whatever announcement Australian PM Howard makes from Ireland.

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