US-led nuclear capable war games to commence in Queensland as UN bans nuclear weapons

As the sun rises on the UN historic treaty to ban nuclear weapons, US led nuclear weapons-capable military exercises commence in Australia: military exercise Talisman Saber starts today in Queensland, Australia.

Friends of the Earth and the Peace Convergence network are alarmed by the environmental, social and political impacts of Australia’s ongoing support for and involvement in US led nuclear-powered and nuclear-weapons-capable military activity in our region.

“The majority of the world’s nations have just spoken out,” said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Robin Taubenfeld, “owning, housing and supporting the use of nuclear weapons is not acceptable.

Yet, today we will see Australia flaunt its support for nuclear-weapons based warfare with the opening of Talisman Saber.”

Talisman Saber 2017 will see 33,000 military personnel (approximately 20,000 US, 13,000 Aussie with small contingents from Japan, New Zealand and Canada) engage in combined land, sea and air operations, amphibious landings, live firing of guns, missiles and torpedos, and parachute drops in some of Australia’s most pristine coastal regions – including the Great Barrier Reef.

Much of Talisman Saber takes place at Shoalwater Bay – just north of Rockhampton.  The Shoalwater Bay Training Area encompasses protected wetlands and waters of the Great Barrier Reef. It has some of Australia’s most important seagrass beds and is a home to endangered sea turtles, dugongs and migrating whales.

Despite controversy surrounding government plans to expand the Shoalwater Training Area, this year Talisman Saber will include manoeuvres on public and private land at Stanage Bay – north of Shoalwater Bay – also designated protected as part of the Great Barrier Reef.

“The push to expand the military presence is disappointing,” Ms. Taubenfeld states. “Talisman Saber 2017 is huge in scale and already impacts on locations of global environmental significance.

No matter where these war games are conducted, however, US and Australian battle fleets conducting maritime surface to surface, surface to land and surface to air engagements will set off political alarm bells in our region.

We are at a crossroads.  The world has spoken out about the use of and support for nuclear weapons.  It’s time for Australia to disentangle itself from “diplomacy” based on the threat of the use-of-force. Stopping Talisman Saber would be a step in the right direction.”

Talisman Saber Open Day will be held at the Rockhampton Showgrounds today from 11.30am. Under the theme of “War is NOT Family Entertainment” concerned people will gather outside the front of the showgrounds distributing balloons and stickers with the message of peace.

For more information:

Friends of the Earth Brisbane: Robin Taubenfeld 0411 118 737

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