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Pine Gap: 50 years as Australia’s prime nuclear target

Press release from ICAN Australia

26 September - 2 October 2016: A week of activities will expose the role of Pine Gap in war, surveillance and nuclear targeting.

Beginning today, on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, hundreds of people are gathering at the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility, just 20km from Alice Springs, NT.

A protest camp and conference will discuss the role of the highly secretive facility in drone targeting, mass citizen surveillance and in preparations for nuclear war. The facility is the most likely Australian target in the event of a nuclear war involving the US, immediately jeopardizing the 25,000 residents of Alice Springs, and others in the path of radioactive fallout. 

“Pine Gap makes critical contributions to planning for nuclear war. In the fragile world of nuclear deterrence, efforts should be directed at total nuclear disarmament,” said Professor Richard Tanter, University of Melbourne.

A UN working group on nuclear disarmament has issued a breakthrough recommendation for the General Assembly to convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. Austrian Foreign Minister Kurz announced last Wednesday that Austria, along with other UN members states, will table a resolution at the General Assembly First Committee in October, seeking a mandate for negotiations to begin next year.

“For 71 years the majority of countries have experienced the injustice and insecurity that nuclear weapons represent,” said Ray Acheson of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), a steering group member of ICAN. “With negotiations of a ban treaty on the horizon, we are as close as we have ever been to effectively challenging the continued possession of these weapons of mass destruction.”

“When a treaty banning nuclear weapons is negotiated, Australia will be expected to sign it, as it has signed treaties to outlaw other abhorrent weapons. To enable Australia to sign on, the functions of Pine Gap should exclude preparations for nuclear war. This facility has served to implicate Australia in nuclear aggression and as a prime nuclear target for 50 years too long,” said Gem Romuld, ICAN Australia.

ICAN Australia and WILPF will be speaking at the IPAN Conference and participating in the protest camp this week. 

More information:

Disarm protest camp, 26-30 September www.closepinegap.org
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network Conference, 1-2 October www.ipan.org.au

For further comment:

Professor Richard Tanter, Nautilus Institute and Melbourne University- (+61) 407 824 336
Gem Romuld, ICAN Australia- (+61) 421 955 066