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March 2, 2024

Nuclear-powered subs? Dr Caldicott speaks

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‘America has 18 Trident submarines, powered by highly enriched Uranium 235, which can be used as fuel for nuclear weapons. Each sub carries 24 missiles, each one is armed with eight hydrogen bombs – 30 times the killing power of one Hiroshima bomb. That’s enough subs to produce nuclear winter and end life on Earth.’

– Dr Helen Caldicott

Dr Helen Caldicott. Photo Heide Smith

Dr Caldicott, who originally trained as a paediatrician, led the national movement to bring an end to the French atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons over the Pacific.

The Australian government eventually took France to the International Court of Justice, and France was forced to test underground.

She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Linus Pauling, and been recognised as key to the reinvigoration of the Physicians for Social Responsibility and was subsequently a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

After moving to Byron Bay in 1990, Dr Caldicott also had an important influence on the politics of the Northern Rivers.

The founder of The Echo, Nicholas Shand, persuaded the world famous anti-nuclear campaigner to run for the Federal seat of Richmond. While this is now a reasonably secure Labor seat, in 1990, the seat had been held by the conservative National Party, then known as the Country Party, since 1922.

‘I had just moved here when Nicholas asked me to run. I said, “No’’, but he persuaded me to run by saying “Don’t you need to support Gorbachev?” (who had been working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons). When he said “Gorbachev,” that was it’.

She says, ‘Once Nicholas had convinced me, we were off and running. People immediately gathered around me from all over the place. A committee was formed and I did some local television interviews.

‘There was such enthusiasm, such a sense of relief in the electorate – crowded halls of people everywhere.

‘I think it solidified most people’s ideas on the dangers of nuclear and global warming, they were so relieved to be represented,’ said Dr Calidicott.

‘I won every other booth except those in Tweed – I lost by 600 votes out of 70,000.’

It was Dr Caldicott’s preferences that pushed unknown Labor candidate, Neville Newell, over the line.

Nuke sub deal

Following the recent news that Australia is going to get nuclear-powered submarines in a deal with the UK and US Dr Caldicott told The Echo, ‘To set China up as an enemy is ridiculous… we don’t need super powers anymore, we need to reduce global warming, we’ve got to stop fighting and killing each other’.

‘America has 800 bases in 80 countries. It’s estimated that since 9/11 the US have spent $14 trillion dollars killing nearly one million people – it’s murder – let’s be frank, that is not a department of defence, it’s a department of killing.

‘We need to work out how to defuse the situation, make friends and trade, not be antagonistic. The human race must stop fighting and killing, because if we don’t, it will lead to annihilation.’

Dr Caldicott pointed out that most politicians are scientifically illiterate, and that we need independent thinkers to stand up and run for government.

‘We need to make sure our children and grandchildren have inherited a world that is populated by the most extraordinary organisms, plants and animals. We are probably the only life in the universe.’

In conversation

Dr Caldicott will be coming back to Byron Shire virtually, in conversation with federal Greens candidate Mandy Nolan on September 26, from 4 till 5pm.

‘Our initial conversation was to be “the woman who almost won Richmond speaks to the woman who only needs a five per cent swing to win Richmond”,’ said Ms Nolan.

‘Sadly, the tone has changed to something more sinister, as we could be facing potential floating Chernobyls in our cities. As a community, we need to know the risks of this deal. Helen Caldicott, a world-renowned expert and activist, can speak to the subject like no other.’

You can register to join the free Zoom session.

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Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Helen Caldicott knows exactly what everyone’s on about- good, bad & indifferent. Front on,
    face value. Essentially, NO NUKES – [hallmark: Arts’ Action For Peace / ICAN The International
    Campaign To Abolish Nuclear Weapons.]

  2. We are headed for an unwinnable war with China if we tie our military to the USA a most ‘unreliable ally’ according to the late Malcolm Fraser.

  3. Doctor Caldicott is quite correct to call this maddness out.
    We are being softened up to accept nuclear armed and nuclear powered warships, after all a nuclear powered sub with conventional weapons is a popgun and no threat to anyone.
    We are also being softened up to play host to USA and UK nuclear armed and nuclear powered warships.
    As well as that we are to play host to many more US troops,and high tech war technology.
    All this is the doing of Scott Morrson acting unilaterally with no parliamentry oversite a situation he seems all to happy with.
    The Chinese have recently stated that this escalation by Australia has made Australia a nuclear target.
    We need to think deeply on this. 80% of us live in 5 major cities spaced along the southern and eastern coastlines.
    The prevailing winds blow from the west to the east. In the event of getting involved in a nuclear exchange, ( any war between China and the US and allies will quickly go nuclear ), 5 bombs on our 5 major cities will kill 80% of our population , the wind will carry the poisonous radioactivity into the Pacific ocean ( sorry NZ), leaving the Australian continent for the taking.

    • OOOOH God !
      So true Simon , but with all this nuclearing going on ,of course we’ll need some where to store the waste.
      Guess who’ll be interested in sharing the site with the seventy years worth of waste, that hasn’t found as ‘safe ‘ home ( except of course for their habit of dumping it into the Pacific Ocean ) ?
      Of course your scenario of westward drift of fallout from the inevitable targeting of drone control sites and Pine Gap , has already been presaged by the fallout from Maralinga tests which exited the mainland from Byron Bay.
      The good news is, it does make all this rubbish about masks and vaccination obvious as infantile and inconsequential.
      Keep your head down ! G”)

    • ‘..a nuclear powered sub with conventional weapons is a popgun and no threat to anyone’ – tell that to the survivors of the Argentine cruiser “General Belgrano’, torpedoed by the British off the Falklands. That effectively eliminated the Argentine Navy’s role in that war.

  4. I look forward to Commodore Morrison and First Lieutenant Dutton taking the first New Clear subway on a sea trials run up along the China coastline.

  5. There is no making friends with China, they have infiltrated all of our organisations, have been allowed to purchase our land, our water and other natural resources. Their ideology is anathema to our own and we need to make it damn clear that we do not condone their human rights abuses, nor their attempt at contaminating our culture.

    • First of all, it’s not “China”, it’s the Chinese government.

      Scondly, the Chinese people and the Chinese government are only allowed to buy what they want in Australia because the greedy Australian government let them – you can’t just go to China and buy what you want – why? BECAUSE the Chinese government won’t let it happen.
      Play the ball, not the man – there is no point getting mad at anyone apart from the Australian government who are at fault here, NOT the Chinese people or the Chinese government. They are just trying to secure future food for their people. It would be SO NICE if OUR government were so worried about OUR future food and didn’t allow coal mines and CSG wells all or the place.

  6. I too am worried about this unnecessary purchase of Nuclear Subs from the UK/US. These subs are designed to carry Nuclear armaments, & will be an over-priced expensive to maintain boat that will not be delivered until after I have left this mortal coil.
    Personally, I think the time of Submarines is finished as a surveillance tool. The US & China only use them as platforms for nuclear weapons. I feel we would be better served buying long range Drones, & investing in satellites.
    The current government seems intent on tearing international diplomacy apart: We have unnecessarily openly criticized the Chinese when Asian diplomacy must always be carried out very diplomatically. We could have left the investigation of the origins of Covid to the World Health Organisation, so not alienating our biggest customer. Ditto the French (regarding the Subs contract) who have extremely long memories. I think our negotiations for a Free trade agreement with the EU will be a rocky road. We really need that EU market if China reduces imports from Australia.
    So, the Federation AUKUS seems to be what that shortens too!
    Oh, for a Government that is honest with its citizens, is compassionate (for citizens & refugees) & that treats women as equals, not the 50% of the population to be ignored. Then there is Climate change which needs addressing. Unfortunately, Labor also misses on a few of those issues. Hopefully we may have some honest independents (holding balance of power) next election that pull the government into line, whichever party wins!

    • Scott Morrison is probably the most incompetent undiplomatic Prime Minister Australia has had,
      He also has questionable behaviour when using tax payers money.

  7. Joachim. If the Greens want to denigrate modern technology by using the failings of 60 year old technology then I suspect they will stay largely irrelevant for a long time to come. Pity.

    • Modern technology working a treat at Fukushima. Land and water contamination doing wonders for the citizenry of Fukushima, yeah. Modern technology is using clean and safe sources of Renewable Energy which makes the Greens totally relevant.

  8. People at the top seem hellbent on wiping the Biosphere out, such is the focus on military madness and environmental destruction.
    We are entering exponential heating of the planet with all the problems that will expose us to. Droughts Fires Floods Famines Ocean rise and bigger destructive storm systems.
    That money should be used to raise health standards, reduce wealth disparity and preserve the natural environment for other species.
    However that seems too sensible for the greedy, who will take us all down unless there madness is stoped.

  9. Joachim. I will quote Keith Duncan. ” Joachim please don’t insult my intelligence, I haven’t done that to you, yet; so far I’ve only attacked the greens idealistic stupidity” . Fukushima, 60 year old technology built in the wrong spot. Again , don’t use the failings of 60 year old technology to denigrate modern technology My comment was to do with nuclear power for submarines, nothing to do with renewable energy.


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