Talk:Australia and weapons of mass destruction

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Former good article Australia and weapons of mass destruction was one of the History good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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  • Get to FA status

It may come as a surprise to many but Australia actively sought nuclear weapons from their inception until the political climate changed in the 1970s. It eagerly participated in nuclear testing in the hopes of sharing nuclear information, and the whole reason for the purchase of the F-111 strategic bomber was that several nuclear bombs would be provided to fulfil their nuclear capability.

Thwarted in acquiring nuclear weapons through scientific co-operation, and later by direct transfer, Australia had advanced plans for the construction of a large nuclear reactor intended to produce weapons grade materials at Jervis Bay (which is under Commonwealth rather than State jurisdiction). The plan was fully costed and political influence was applied to ensure the reactor most suited to weapons production was chosen from among the rival tenders.

Australia was one of the last countries to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and ratification of the treaty was delayed until after a change of government because it would have interfered with Australia's plans to acquire nuclear weapons.

I hope to expand the nuclear section of the page to include this history. --Dave 02:02, 19 April 2006 (UTC)


Does anybody have a source for the aparent claim in this article that the JASSM missile is nuclear capable? It appears to only have a conventional warhead and, as such, references to the RAAF's planned purchase of the weapons don't really belong in this entry. --Nick Dowling 12:24, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

The JASSM has the same payload characteristics as the Tomahawk, a well known nuclear delivery vehicle.
A reference to its nuclear capability can be be cited as: " At least four of the missiles made by these companies are used for delivery of nuclear weapons: Raytheon’s AGM-158 JASSM and BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile, British Aerospace’s Apache cruise missile, and Boeing’s AGM-86 cruise missile. (Richard Sanders, Coalition To Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT), “Operation Embedded Complicity – Canada, Playing Our Part In The Business Of War”, in Press For Conversion, #52, October 2003, pp. 14, 32-33)
--Dave 01:24, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
Hang on just a tad. There is no such thing as a "British Aerospace Apache". The MBDA Apache is a short-range cruise missile equipped with runway-cratering munitions; the French nuclear deterrent, like the British, is done through nuclear subs with ballistic missiles.
As for the rest of that quote, the Tomahawks have been converted from nuclear to conventional operation (as far as I can gather because of one of the arms reduction treaties signed in the 1980s), and the ALCM is apparently going that way. I've no doubt that you could use a JASSM to deliver a nuclear warhead, but the US isn't doing so. Our long-range strike capability is going down not up with the retirement of the F-111. Nor are any of our ships or subs equipped with long-range cruise missiles, which is the other obvious way Australia could deliver a nuclear warhead. This is moving squarely into the realm of original research, but I see no evidence Australia is designing its weapons purchases around the option of nuclear weapons delivery. If we were, we'd be moving heaven and Earth to either retain the F-111's, finding an equivalently long range replacement, or equipping the Navy with long-range cruise missiles. We aren't doing any of those things. I have to say I think you're imagining things. Sure, we retain the ability to build nuclear weapons, and I'm sure we could put together something to deliver them if we have to. But nuclear weapons, or the possibility of getting, seem to be playing very little part in our current defence acquisitions. --Robert Merkel 02:34, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
The issue is not what is currently done with these missiles, but what the missiles are capable of doing. The MBDA Apache has a payload of 500kg and a variant carries large single charge rather than 10 50kg submunitions. A 500kg payload is more than enough for a 15kt nuclear warhead. The JASSM can interchange warheads with the tomahawk cruise missile, as I indicated above. Without getting into the realm of original research in the main article, I successfully blocked a plan to purchase the Tomahawk system for the Australian Collins Class Submarine fleet around 1998. There was no credible argument for arming the subs with conventional warhead Tomahawks, which raises the question of whether the hidden agenda was really keeping a nuclear option open. The JASSM certainly does that. --Dave 03:12, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
Dave, would you care to provide evidence for the rather extraordinary claim that you, or anyone else, were able to prevent Australia purchasing Tomahawk missiles against the will of the defence establishment for such? In any case, there is ample reason to acquire conventionally-armed cruise missiles, as armed forces around the world have done, as standoff strike weapons so that Australian pilots can attack shipping (or well-defended ground targets) without S-300s on their arse. --Robert Merkel 05:13, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
I am not able to provide proof that I prevented Australia acquiring Tomahawk missiles, it was done in a party political forum and there are no public records of the proceedings. Anything I wrote on the process would fall into the "original research" category and therefore be unsuitable for publication on Wikipedia. Since this is only a talk page I will provide details: In the mid to late 80s I was a delegate to the NSW Liberal State Council, an influential policy body within the Liberal Party of Australia. The Liberal Party led the federal government at the time, as it continues to do today. I became aware of a plan to acquire Tomahawk cruise missiles for the Collins Class submarines. I approached influential academics at the Australian Defence Studies Centre at the Australian Defence Force Academy and obtained expert opinion that opposed the deployment of cruise missiles on the submarines. I spoke against the plan at a State Council meeting, at which the Australian Prime Minister and Defence Minister were both present. Immediately following my speech an overwhelming majority of delegates voted in favour of a resolution opposing the acquisition of Tomahawk Cruise Missiles for deployment on the Collins Class submarines. After the vote I spoke to the Defence Minister privately and explained the reasoning of the experts in greater detail. The plan to acquire Tomahawk was dropped soon afterward. --Dave 02:23, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Sorry for biting at you - you'll have to understand it's a big claim to be able to affect government policy in such an area. I presume you mean the mid to late 90's; in the mid to late 80's Bomber Beazley was Defence Minister. Sad that a minister in charge of a portfolio had bothered to find out so little about the hardware that he was approving hundreds of millions of dollars of expenditure on.--Robert Merkel 03:22, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Your skepticism is quite understandable. BTW it was the mid to late 90s as you pointed out. The problem is one too common in the political arena: the talents and qualifications needed to win the position bear little resemblence to those needed to fulfil it properly. Thats another story for another furum though. --Dave 05:58, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Dave, you said the Liberal party led the federal government in the mid-to-late 1980's? It was a labour Government that was in power federally at that time. The Liberals were kicked out of office in the early 80's when Bob Hawke became Prime Minister of Australia. Please explain! NiceDoggie 18:05, 27 January 2007 (UTC)


I am promoting your article to the GA level. It is hard to suggest improvements, you seem to have everything covered well.--Konstable 13:43, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Delivery Systems Section[edit]

I note someone recently removed the section on delivery systems and merged it into the nuclear section. I was the person who started the delivery systems section , and indeed the article itself. I put delivery systems in a seperate section because the systems can be used to deliver all categories of WMD, not just nuclear weapons. I suggest the person who merged the information into the nuclear section reverse the change, or consider how to incorporate delivery information into the other sections. Delivery systems are an important consideration for WMD, there is no point having weapons if they cannot be delivered to the target. Delivery systems are often put in place well before WMD are acquired, and Australia is a case in point. --Dave 02:55, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Weapons and delivery systems could/should be in different sections. I'm not sure if the reference to numbers of F/A-18s or the decision to withdraw the F-111s is strictly relevant anyway since Australia's nuclear program was officially abandoned in 1971. In fact the F-111s only had provision for nuclear delivery capability and Hornets were specifically ordered without it.
  • RAAF B-24 crews were trained by the USAAF in the delivery of mustard gas and phosgene bombs in 1944.
  • The RAAF made informal investigations in 1956 about acquiring nuclear weapons from the UK, strategic weapons for use by the Canberra and tactical weapons for use by the Sabre. RAAF and RAF Canberras were periodically seconded to the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera between 1956 and 1969.
  • The Project AIR36 specification was for a jet bomber with a range of "not less than 4,000 nautical miles" and be capable of carrying at least 20,000lb of bombs or "one 10,000lb special bomb" (the weight of the 10kt Blue Danube, the only operational British nuclear weapon at the time). The Air Mission unanimously recommended "the purchase of the Avro Vulcan or Handley Page Victor". Very detailed costings were made in 1955 on GAF producing licence-built Vulcans and upgrading RAAF Amberley, Darwin, Williamtown and Pearce to RAF Bomber Command Class 1 airfield standard.
  • As the USAF was requipping with B-52s, the RAAF seriously looked at leasing some of the stored B-47Bs to form a reserve wing.
  • In the 1957 Australian Defence Review, Air Minister F.M. Osborne recommended "the re-arming of one fighter squadron with U.S. Lockheed F.104 aircraft". While a strategic bomber was no longer an option, the F-104 was considered because it was "capable of carrying conventional guided weapons and nuclear weapons".
  • Australia placed a firm order for the Bloodhound III SAM in full expectation of receiving nuclear warheads, but the program was cancelled in 1961.
  • RAAF examined the Mirage IV as a possible replacement for the Canberra. The IV was an enlarged version of the III and was designed as a strategic nuclear strike platform. The RAAF already had the Mirage III and the Mirage IV seemed attractive as it retained much of the performance of the fighter. The Australian version would have been built under licence by GAF and been powered by Rolls Royce Avon engines.
  • The F-4 Phantoms used by the RAAF pending delivery of the F-111s were standard block 43/44 build straight out of the factory to USAF specifications, and were capable of carrying "special stores".
  • As delivered, the RAN Sea Kings were wired for delivering nuclear depth bombs.
  • The Jindivik could simulate a cruise missile for target training and GAF seriously looked at turning it into one. The limited payload of only 280lb would have made it useless as a conventional missile, but it could easily have carried a tactical nuclear warhead.
Dbromage 03:01, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

  • I see, I was unaware. If you put it back in a seperate category, could you state that they can carry all types of WMDS? Thanks Judgesurreal777 03:49, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

JASSM nuclear delivery claim...[edit]

It is not disputed that the Australian government is purchasing JASSMs. It is further not disputed that they are capable of carrying nuclear weapons if appropriately modified. What I object strongly to is the statement that they were selected on the basis of their nuclear-delivery capability, which was supported only by one somewhat dubious reference. F/A-18's with JASSM armament have a great deal less strike range than the to-be-retired F-111. Even the F-35 JSF will struggle. Yes, you can use air-to-air refuelling, but the logistics of a strike on (for example) Indonesia with an F-35 equipped with JASSM are very difficult (you not only need a tanker close to Indonesia, but fighters to guard the tanker).

I again come back to the central point - if Australia wanted a delivery system for attacking regional targets, either we'd be retaining the F-111 or we'd be equipping the Collins-class subs with Tomahawk missiles (or developing ballistic missiles, for that matter). We're doing neither. Our long-range strike capability is going to be markedly reduced, not increased, over the next decade. That's why Labor and these guys have been squealing their heads off about the unsatisfactory nature of a JSF purchase. --Robert Merkel 00:30, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

I'm going to yank this again. You have *one* source, a publication from a group dedicated to opposing the international arms trade, claiming that the JASSM has been bought with nuclear delivery in mind (is there any easy way for me to get a copy of that document to check). --Robert Merkel 07:04, 5 July 2006 (UTC)
I do not claim the JASSM was bought with its nuclear capability in mind, I simply note that it is a delivery system capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. --Dave 02:34, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but by putting it on this page you are directly implying that there is something unusual about the purchase. Every fighter plane and submarine on Earth is a potential nuclear weapon delivery vehicle. --Robert Merkel 02:57, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
I put it on the page because I am interested in seeing delivery systems on WMD pages. I started the Australia and WMD page, and I also edited the Iran and WMD page to include delivery systems. I think the section is important because WMD are next to useless without a delivery system. In fact it is politically prudent to acquire the delivery systems before the WMD, provoking only one international crisis rather than two if it were done in reverse order. No-one really cares about Australia ordering the JASSM today, but if we already had nuclear weapons it would be another story. --Dave 06:04, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
OK, put the JASSM back in, but do you mind the sentence I put at the top of the paragraph on delivery systems? That said, how hard would it be for Australia to acquire a ballistic missile, for instance? The government sets up a satellite launching business on Christmas Island, and essentially recreate what SpaceX has done with the Falcon 1 for 80 million USD. Voila, you have a (liquid-fuelled, admittedly) ICBM with global range. --Robert Merkel 08:01, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Even though it may be possible to swap warheads on JASSM, that's not enough to have a nuke capability. The aircraft has to be modified too. You also have to have the infrastructure to store, guard, maintain, monitor and test these special weapons. You also have to have procedures as well, military and civilian. Comms systems, protocols, aircrew qualifications etc etc etc. JASSM was purchased because we are about to loose a regional bomber type aircraft, and are trying to compensate for it. If we do intend for nuclear weapons use we would have had the infrastructure and procedures already but we do not and will not, because it's expensive, takes time to establish and is not cost effective. It's just not as simple as swapping warheads. You run the risk of being too suggestive. NiceDoggie 18:17, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

Assessment completed for Australia and weapons of mass destruction[edit]

As per either a recent request at or because this article was listed as fully or partly unassessed at Wikipedia:WikiProject Australia/Assessment I have just now completed a rating of the article and posted my results to this page. Those results are detailed above in the template box. Unfortunately, due to the volume of articles that need to be assessed, I am unable to leave detailed comments other than to make the following brief observation: article supplies sufficient depth of knowledge to be classed of mid importance

However if you have specific questions, please write to me on my talk page and as time permits I will try to provide you with my reasoning. Please put my talk page on your watchlist if you do ask such a question because in the case of these responses I will only post my answer underneath your question.

ALSO if you do not agree with the rating you can list it in the "Requesting an assessment section", and someone will take a look at it.--VS talk 10:22, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

GA Sweeps[edit]

This article has been reviewed as part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles/Project quality task force in an effort to ensure all listed Good articles continue to meet the Good article criteria. In reviewing the article, I have found there are some issues that may need to be addressed.

  • The prinicple and major problem for this article is the messy raw links in the chemicla weapons section. These must be properly referenced and formatted in order for this article to remain at GA.
  • "Like virtually every other developed nation and most larger developing nations, Australia has weapons systems which could be used to deliver nuclear weapons to its neighbours, if nuclear weapons were developed." - Which neighbour is this referring to? Perhaps reword it a bit more clearly.
  • All web sources have to be properly formatted as per below.

I will check back in no less than seven days. If progress is being made and issues are being addressed, the article will remain listed as a Good article. Otherwise, it may be delisted (such a decision may be challenged through WP:GAR). If improved after it has been delisted, it may be nominated at WP:GAN. Feel free to drop a message on my talk page if you have any questions, and many thanks for all the hard work that has gone into this article thus far. Regards, Jackyd101 (talk) 20:03, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

Sadly nothing has happened, so this article is no longer a GA.--Jackyd101 (talk) 08:46, 3 July 2008 (UTC)


The internet inline citations used in this article are improperly formatted and this problem may hinder this articles GA status. Internet citations require at the very least information on the title, publisher and last access date of any webpages used. If the source is a news article then the date of publication and the author are also important. This information is useful because it allows a reader to a) rapidly identify a source's origin b) ascertain the reliability of that source and c) find other copies of the source should the website that hosts it become unavaliable for any reason. It may also in some circumstances aid in determining the existance or status of potential copyright infringments. Finally, it looks much tidier, making the article appear more professional. There are various ways in which this information can be represented in the citation, listed at length at Wikipedia:Citing sources. The simplest way of doing this is in the following format:

<ref>{{cite web|(insert URL)|title=|publisher=|work=|date=|author=|accessdate=}}</ref>

As an example:

  • <ref>{{cite web|url=|title=Avoiding a Thirty Years War||work=[[The Washington Post]]|date=2006-12-21|author=Richard W. Rahn|accessdate=2008-05-25}}</ref>

which looks like:

If any information is unknown then simply omit it, but title, publisher and last access dates are always required. I strongly recommend that all internet inline references in this article be formatted properly as part of this article's GA review. If you have any further questions please contact me and as mentioned above, more information on this issue can be found at Wikipedia:Citing sources. Regards


Have reverted the American spelling changes recently made. This article was originally written in British/Commonwealth/Australian English and the Wikipedia convention is that an article should retain the spelling it was originally written with. For a more full discussion of this, please refer to the discussion on the Population Ageing article Talk:Population_ageing Hybrazil (talk) 06:48, 6 December 2008 (UTC)

Recent study[edit]

Possibly of interest to some active within the article. Regards, -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email 02:20, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

This article needs severe revision to remove inaccuracies and biases[edit]

This is a tendentious article evidently written by someone with a bee in their bonnet. The referencing is unacceptable (no page numbers, often no links). For example:

Colonial Period (1788 to Federation) According to a recent article in Bulletin of the History of Medicine[2] smallpox was used as a biological weapon against aborigines around Port Jackson in 1789. As the alternative source of infection (a transmission from Sulawesi) has been dis-proven,[3] some scholars consider it may also have been used near the Wellington Valley (New South Wales) around 1828.

Criticism (1): reference [2] does NOT claim that smallpox was used as a biological weapon. In accordance with the current state of knowledge, the source of the outbreak remains a mystery, but its deliberate importation is regarded as highly unlikely, both in terms of then current understanding of the nature of smallpox, as well as with respect to the threat that an outbreak would have posed the small colony. Criticism (2): with all due respect to the author of reference [3], an amateur historian, the Sulawesi hypothesis is still very much current. The standard view of this outbreak remains that we simply don't know what happened. Incidentally, the author of [3] also concluded that it was not released by colonists as a weapon. Criticism (3): no reference is supplied for the Wellington Valley claim.

In short, this entire section should be deleted because it misrepresents the sources it cites, and adds nothing further to support the hypothesis stated as fact by the contributor.

The remainder of the article requires similar re-writing to resolve problems related to references (not given, or not given in full), relevance, and insinuation (for example, "Australia has weapons systems which could be used to deliver nuclear weapons to its neighbours, if nuclear weapons were developed" ; my emphasis). While the original contributor might be excited by the possibilities of Australian weapons of mass destruction, this article needs extensive re-writing, although scrapping it and starting again would be more advisable.

Declaration of possible interests: I am an Australian university-trained historian of science and medicine; my poltics are social democratic; I am opposed to any country, including Australia, possessing or developing any ABC weapons (atomic, biological, chemical). (talk) 03:18, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

  • Deleted the section. You are right that the article is a poor one. Feel free to update it. I am an Australian university-trained military historian. I will add it to my work list but it is a long one. Hawkeye7 (talk) 22:00, 3 March 2012 (UTC)

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