US military presence, cluster bombs, and uranium sales: MAPW members speak out

Updated 23 November: President Obama's Australian visit has sparked announcements of an expanded US military presence in Australia -raising the possibility of storage of banned cluster bombs - while the PM has made clear her intention to change policy on uranium sales to India. Our members have spoken on radio, and once again written numerous letters to the media.

Michael Gunter, MAPW Victorian Branch member
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to you on a computer in a ground floor flat in North Melbourne, It is powered by solar cells on the roof, AND I HAVE NO CONNECTION TO THE MAINS GRID.

Because I am such an "Eco-NAZI" and know how to conserve power, this is actually cheaper in the long run than staying mains-connected, thanks to the egregious market behaviour of the electricity industry participants. The Smart Meter program was the last straw for me, providing the impetus for me to install my subversive power system.

Energy market analysts have been telling us last week how India must industrialise and become a consumer society. In Australia the operation of a relatively cheap non-nuclear electricity industry is already making the concept of "fuel poverty" a reality in this First World country, so please do not try to kid yourself that the poor of India will benefit from allegedly "cheap" nuclear power.

Mahatma Gandhi would be appalled at the way corruption and greed is trashing his concept of "live simply that all may simply live." As in America and Australia, India too should radically wind back slavish adoption of consumerism. Peak Oil is here, and that is only one of dozens of key resources -- contestable in World War Three -- given our current insane greed-fuelled trajectory.

Please do not make uranium one of those finite resources to be fought over.

To leverage short term profits for Aussie companies off of the suicidal consumerist aspirations of the developing world is not an ethical stance. If the abject poor Indian villagers are to be educated, clothed, fed and housed they can do all of that with an off-grid rooftop solar system such as mine. Any objective "Productivity Commission" style analysis would show a huge net benefit to the Indian economy from dispersed, resilient solar energy development, compared to going nuclear.

I respectfully suggest that nuclear is not the way for any country to go, especially given the catastrophic and insoluble mess still oozing death in Japan.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Gunter MB, BS

MAPW Vice President Dr Margaret Beavis
was interviewed on public radio Radio Adelaide's breakfast, 17 November 2011. Listen to the interview. 
(Margaret was also interviewed on commercial radio 2SR Sydney).

Michelle Fahy, MAPW Canberra member and anti-cluster-bomb activist, explained that the US could store cluster bombs in Darwin if flawed legislation goes aheadin a substantial story on ABC's The World Today, 17 November 2011: Listen or read the transcript.

Dr Tom Keaney, MAPW Northern Territory Branch, had this letter printed in The Age, 17 November and also in the Canberra Times
ANY increased US military presence is likely to spark a regional arms race and therefore provoke instability. A responsible Australian government could pursue national and regional security in other ways - for example increasing efforts to address regional poverty and environmental degradation, advocating for the dismantling of regional and global nuclear and conventional weapons stockpiles and acting as a strong and independent voice in global affairs. A responsible Australian government must resist the temptation to faithfully follow the strategic wishes of a powerful ally. A responsible Australian community needs to question our government's foreign policy while considering all its consequences.

MAPW President Jenny Grounds was published in the Herald-Sun:
If I as a GP were found to have prescribed drugs of addiction to a person knowing that they were selling them on the street to drug addicts, I would be up before the medical board.  If I then argued that it made me some money, created some income for the patient, and someone else would supply the drug addict if I did n' t,  I would be deregistered, and probably have criminal charges laid against me.

The Indian government has stated quite clearly that need uranium from us to free up  it's  own for nuclear weapons. Why then is  our government  not  morally and legally bound to refrain from making a buck   by doing murky deals with a country which is engaged in a nuclear arms race with its neighbour Pakistan  and has not signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty ?   

Lynne Saville, NSW Co-ordinator, MAPW, wrote to newspapers
The Government and the ALP should lead the world towards the abolition of nuclear weapons, rather than risking nuclear weapons proliferation by selling Australian uranium to nuclear-armed India.
It is impossible to guarantee “peaceful use” of uranium, particularly when India is involved in a nuclear arms race with Pakistan. A nuclear war between these countries would be a human and environmental disaster.
The Medical Association for Prevention of War opposes the export of uranium for reasons which include the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation; health and environmental risks of nuclear power production as illustrated recently in the Fukushima disaster; and the serious and growing unsolved problem of safe nuclear waste disposal.

Nancy Atkin, MAPW EO, wrote to the Herald Sun
Australia should not sell uranium to India. Uranium mining and the nuclear power industry are toxic and carcinogenic, and increase the risk of accidents like Fukushima with effects that will last for many generations. Of India’s 22 reactors, only 14 are safeguarded. Even if we could guarantee that our uranium would stay in the safeguarded reactors, it would free up other nuclear fuel for use in nuclear weapons."

Marguerite Marshall, MAPW Victorian Branch member, wrote to local newspapers and politicians:
Selling uranium to India would increase the risk of nuclear war. At the least our uranium would free up India's domestic uranium for weapons production. India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Even if it had, such agreements can be ignored in times of conflict.

Selling uranium to India would be at odds with our professed goal with the US of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. 

Gillard says selling uranium to India would increase jobs but jobs could be increased without decreasing security. There is a huge potential in job creation in safe renewable technologies. A study commissioned by the ACTU and the Australian Conservation Foundation found that 500,000 jobs could be created  by 2030.

A study by the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute with Beyond Zero Emissions demonstrates that 75,000 jobs could be created and we could export such technology. India could benefit from this or alternatively from a plan to provide the world's energy needs with clean renewable energy by 2030 by Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford University.

It is immoral to export uranium, which creates so many risks. Australia could ensure a safe and prosperous future with more jobs by developing safe renewable energy.