Casing Miags: Ausalia an U.S.Nucla Umblla in Asia-Pacifc
Christine M. Leah and Crispin Rovere
From 1944 to around 1973, senior Australianocials made consistent and serious eortsto equip Australia with nuclear weaponscapability. This ambition was driven by thedesire to contribute to deending Britishinterests in Asia, ears o invasion by China,Indonesia, and Japan, and great power war,as well as the belie that nuclear weaponswere merely bigger and better conventionalweapons, and that they would prolierate.
Concomitantly, Australian policymakerstried to reassure themselves in part byseeking inormation on U.S. nuclear warplans in Asia, but with little success.For a number o reasons, the nuclear optionwas eventually abandoned, and PrimeMinister Gough Whitlam ratied the NuclearNon-Prolieration Treaty (NPT) in 1973.However, Canberra’s decision to instead“rely” on the U.S. nuclear umbrella was,to a large extent, the result o geopoliticalchanges in Australia’s environment ratherthan specic security assurances given byWashington. At the same time, Australianpolicy-makers continued to view nuclearweapons and U.S. extended nucleardeterrence as integral to Australian securityrom the 1970s through the end o the Cold
Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
Senior Australian ocials worked rom 1944 to around 1973, whenAustralia ratied the Nuclear Non-Prolieration Treaty, to equip theircountry with a nuclear weapons capability. When Australia did chooseto permanently orego the nuclear option, it wasn’t because o theU.S. nuclear umbrella, but rather because o signicant geo-politicalchanges taking place throughout Asia in the mid-1970s. A newlyunearthed Australian government document rom 1974 describes howa reversal in these trends at some point in the uture could lead Australiato consider reversing its long-standing policy o nuclear abstinence,even in the presence o an American nuclear security guarantee.
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