//
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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 14,941 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

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

Cadence Column: Asia, October 18, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, October 18, 2021

According to Chinese and US claims, China has a high-orbit, hypersonic missile that can hit a target within 24 miles. And, that’s why China is the new boss of the world and everyone else should hate America. The end. But, that’s not the end in the mind of Taiwan or the US Pentagon. This week, […]

China ‘making its nuclear submarines harder to detect’

China ‘making its nuclear submarines harder to detect’

China is upgrading its nuclear missile-equipped submarines to make them harder for rival powers such as the US to detect, reports suggest. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has redesigned its type 094 submarines to make them quieter, The South China Morning Post reports. Defence experts believe the Chinese 094 submarine can carry and launch the […]

Could China’s economy collapse?

Could China’s economy collapse?

For almost half a century, Chinese officials have overseen one of the greatest economic transformations in human history. The country has gone from collectivized farms and famine to world-leading tech companies and gleaming megacities connected by superfast trains. More than 800 million Chinese have been pulled out of poverty as the Communist Party and its leader […]

China’s economic crisis is much bigger than expected – its property market, the largest in the world, is collapsing

China’s economic crisis is much bigger than expected – its property market, the largest in the world, is collapsing

The situation in China is much worse than originally thought.  The largest property market in the world is set to collapse and the ramifications will impact the entire world.  We’ve been discussing China’s economic issues for years.  Recently this was even discussed with Steve Bannon on The War Room. We now have information that the […]

UN must condemn forced organ harvesting in China

UN must condemn forced organ harvesting in China

Doctors, lawyers, and politicians from three continents called on the international community to ensure an end to China’s practice of forced organ harvesting during the first half of the World Summit on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting. Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) further calls upon the participants of the United Nations General Assembly […]

China says its J-31 is superior to F-35, and will be new carrier-borne fighter jet

China says its J-31 is superior to F-35, and will be new carrier-borne fighter jet

Dwnews.com describes the J-31 in its report “曝歼31配新型导弹高清照 被指将终结美军空中优势[图]” as China’s new carrier-borne fighter jet for China’s Type 003 aircraft carrier. The speculation is based on the J-31’s Chief Designer Sun Cong’s recent comment on social media that China will make public its new carrier-borne fighter jet by year end. The report describes the J-31 as […]

The reason for the discussion on the Tobin tax in China

The reason for the discussion on the Tobin tax in China

Tax every major financial transaction for social equity by a fraction and allocate the funds to redistribution initiatives. The Tobin tax is the shattered dream of the anti-globalist left, even if its history is slightly more complex. Formulated in 1972 by James Tobin, the 1981 Nobel laureate in economics, it aimed to stabilize the financial […]

Is another Cultural Revolution underway in China?

Is another Cultural Revolution underway in China?

Chinese President Xi Jinping is cracking down on several sectors of Chinese society, including technology and entertainment. This has some Beijing watchers worried a new version of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution is underway. Here’s everything you need to know. What was the Cultural Revolution? It was a brutal 10-year period between 1966-76 (with most […]

Cadence Column: Asia, October 11, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, October 11, 2021

Biden is creating a special center within CIA for China. Xi Jinping is irate. Biden knows China almost as well as Trump. He met with Chinese officials as Vice President. While Trump played a “good cop” routine on China, Biden is in a better position to be less diplomatic. After all, hating on China does […]

The curious case of Pakistan, China, TTP and BRI

The curious case of Pakistan, China, TTP and BRI

On 1st October Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan broke all hell loose when on the Turkish government-run TV channel, TRT World, he disclosed that the Pakistani government is in secret talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), facilitated by the Afghan Taliban. The Pakistanis were upset for many reasons. They were upset that they were kept in […]

%d bloggers like this: