//
you're reading...
Australian Current Affairs

Australia neglects militarisation of Antarctica by foreign powers, including China


A Russian ice breaker makes its way to Antarctica

A Russian ice breaker makes its way to Antarctica

Australian academics have pointed to dangers that Antarctic bases are for the first time being militarised, despite the continent officially being called a land of peace and science.

Satellite systems at polar bases could be used to control offensive weapons, according to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and little could be done to prevent it due to the loose nature of the Antarctic Treaty rules.

The report highlights a Chinese base inland in the Australian Antarctic Territory for its satellite intelligence gathering potential and also flags Iran‘s recent interest in establishing a polar presence.

Abuses of the treaty’s strict controls on any use of military personnel are said to have already occurred with many countries not reporting their use in Antarctica, while Australia is neglecting to use defence assets there.

The report, “Cold Calculations”, released on Monday, warns that the increasing militarisation is occurring just as Australia’s Antarctic efforts face crippling budget restrictions.

“We run our Antarctic program on the smell of an oily rag,” said Australian Strategic Policy Institute deputy director Anthony Bergin. “For 2013–14, its overall budget is $169 million, an 8 per cent cut from 2012–13.”

The latest Defence White Paper said there was no credible risk to Australia’s national interests in the Antarctic that might require substantial military responses over the next few decades.

“But in the decades to come, military conflict between the major powers could well have an Antarctic dimension, given the possible role of Antarctic bases in surveillance and satellite monitoring,” Dr Bergin said.

“We’re not using our military resources to support our Antarctic program, even though many other nations use theirs. It’s part of the verification regime that they should report the use of military personnel, but many don’t.”

The central rule of the Antarctic Treaty for guaranteeing peaceful use of the continent is a agreement that any nation can inspect another’s operations.

However, the co-author of Cold Calculations, Sam Bateman of the University of Wollongong, questioned whether this inspection regime was up to assessing whether research was being conducted for non-peaceful purposes.

Professor Bateman said it was likely that Antarctic bases were being used increasingly for military research involving space and satellites.

“We could be moving towards the increased weaponisation of Antarctica through the use of Antarctic bases to control offensive weapons systems,” he said. “That possibility is worrying.”

The clear, interference-free skies of Antarctica make them suitable for space observation, and Professor Bateman pointed to China’s third Antarctic station, Kunlun, at one of the highest and coldest points on the continent.

“It’s ideally suited for sending, receiving or intercepting signals from satellites,” Professor Bateman said.

He said both China and India had active government programs and were seeking to increase the number of their bases – yet neither currently reported the use of military personnel and it may be time for the treaty to tighten reporting requirements.

“This might include, for example, widening reporting of introductions of military personnel into Antarctica to recognise the possible employment of private security contractors and other civilian personnel in activities of an essentially military nature.”

Iran’s foray into Antarctica as a maritime power was recently confirmed though the government’s semi-official Fars News Agency, which reported Rear Admiral Khadem Biqam as saying its first phase would involve co-operation with another nation.

At the same time, Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings raised doubt about the Australian Defence Force’s ability to sustain a maritime presence during a full Antarctic summer season.

“Our currently very limited capacity to operate in the far south is looking embarrassingly poor and not in keeping with the claim that this is part of the ADF’s primary operational environment.”

The strategic report comes as the Abbott government prepares to embark on developing a 20-year strategic plan, in a project to be led by the Antarctic Co-operative Research Centre’s executive director, Tony Press.

Dr Press said the relentless erosion of core budget capacity ran the risk of recreating a “Sir Humphrey Appleby hospital” in Antarctica: three research stations and a marine science capability – but no means to fund and support real scientific activity.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald – Militarisation warning for Antarctica as China and Iran show increasing interest
 

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 17,663 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Chinese drones now almost a daily appearance over Taiwan

Chinese drones now almost a daily appearance over Taiwan

The Chinese military has intensified its drone incursions into the skies above Taiwan with almost daily flights of combat and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) TB-001 drone was spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the de facto boundary between the island and China’s […]

India says disengagement along disputed area with China to be completed by September 12

India says disengagement along disputed area with China to be completed by September 12

India’s foreign ministry said on Friday that disengagement along a disputed border area with China will be completed by Sept. 12. Both countries began disengaging from the Gogra-Hot Springs border area in the western Himalayas on Thursday, over two years after clashes at the frontier strained diplomatic ties. The disengagement comes ahead of a meeting […]

How to make EVs without China’s supply chain

How to make EVs without China’s supply chain

Two electrifying moves in recent weeks have the potential to ignite electric vehicle demand in the United States. First, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, expanding federal tax rebates for EV purchases. Then California approved rules to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. The Inflation Reduction Act extends the Obama-era EV tax […]

Anti-India forces: Techniques and agendas exposed

Anti-India forces: Techniques and agendas exposed

In the post-cold war era, India has moved from a policy of non-alignment to a policy of multi-alignment. This means that India has friendly relations with almost all-powerful and developing nations. Today India is carving out a unique path for itself. Such an approach provides prominence and exposes India to the harmful behind-curtain activities by […]

Taiwan’s Kinmen serves as a reminder of China’s aggression

Taiwan’s Kinmen serves as a reminder of China’s aggression

Taiwan’s frontline island of Kinmen was once again in the headlines when President Tsai Ing-wen paid tribute this week to the soldiers and civilians who “operated in solidarity and safeguarded Taiwan” 64 years ago. On Aug. 23, 1958 mainland Chinese troops attacked Kinmen in a key battle that marked the beginning of the Second Taiwan […]

Terrorism: The glue that holds China and Pakistan together 

Terrorism: The glue that holds China and Pakistan together 

The father of communism, Karl Marx, once famously said — “We have no compassion, and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror”. This statement summarises how terrorism and communism go hand in hand. Maoist China alone destroyed between 44.5 to 72 million lives. During […]

‘New normal’ across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

‘New normal’ across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

China is attempting to establish a “new normal” across the Taiwan Strait, eroding self-ruled Taiwan’s territorial control and increasing the threat of a strike with each military sortie, officials and analysts say. Beijing has ramped up military maneuvers in the 110-mile (180-kilometer) wide stretch of water that separates Taiwan from mainland China — and the […]

When Beijing was burning, Xi was playing personal games 

When Beijing was burning, Xi was playing personal games 

A great fire destroyed Rome for six days in the summer of AD 64. Famous Roman historian of that time, Tacitus, recorded that 70 percent of the city was destroyed and half of the city’s residents were displaced. Roman ruler Nero was accused of being indifferent, ineffective, and careless. The end result of this neglect […]

China would re-educate Taiwan in event of reunification

China would re-educate Taiwan in event of reunification

Once China achieves its professed goal of establishing control over Taiwan, a process of “re-education” of the island’s population would follow, according to China’s Ambassador to France Lu Shaye. The ambassador was speaking on French television channel BFM TV on Wednesday night, when he said a majority of the Taiwanese population actually wanted to be […]

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a political sabotage

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a political sabotage

Sri Lanka’s present state confirms the famous statement: “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.” Sri Lankans have been repeating the mistakes of choosing the politicians Rajapaksas again and again. It is confirmed that there were unaccounted payments that the Chinese were liberal with during project negotiations with the island nation. They were paid […]

%d bloggers like this: