Australia’s secret plans to have its own nuclear arsenal via

AMERICA. Russia. China. Britain. The world’s most powerful countries all have nuclear arsenals – and few people know Australia was almost one of them.


LAST week’s successful test of a North Korean missile raised fresh fears Australia is now potentially within range of one of the rogue nation’s nukes. 

Yet despite being the world’s third largest producer of uranium — the key ingredient in a nuclear bomb — Australia has no similar weapon to chuck back should Kim Jong-un press the big red button.

But, were it not for the rolling of Australian Prime Minister John Gorton in 1971, in a Liberal Party coup, Australia could easily have developed its own true blue, and massively deadly, nuke.

A military expert has told, that top secret plans were so advanced Australia was considered “top of the pile” of countries expected to acquire its own nuclear arsenal.

It was 60 years ago that the last nuclear bomb was detonated in Australia, a British weapon at the Maralinga test site in South Australia.

If you look closely, evidence of Australia’s plans for its own nuke remain. A few hours south of Sydney, at picturesque Jervis Bay, a small road leads into the bush. By a boat ramp is a large car park.

However, this was never designed to be a place for tourists’ vehicles. Rather, it is the unfinished foundations of Australia’s first commercial nuclear power station.

The public were told it would revolutionise the country’s energy needs. The truth was it would enrich uranium for Australia’s atomic bombs.


“German, Italy, the Netherlands — all wanted nuclear weapons but Australia was top of the list because of our uranium resources, our scientists and our enrichment program,” Prof Reynolds says.

However, the very success of Britain’s tests only served to isolate Australia further.

In 1957, the US decided it would rather have the UK back in its nuclear club than out on an atomic limb. The US and UK now share their arsenal. “Australia was adrift,” says Prof Reynolds.

So Australia took tentative steps to go it alone. This included the Lucas Heights nuclear plant in suburban Sydney, to this day Australia’s only reactor. Today, it produces radioisotopes for medical applications, but it began its life researching nuclear weapons.

In the early 1960s, the Menzies Government was discussing with the US the top secret “SEATO plan 4” which could have seen American bombs on Australian soil.

“This were absolutely not known by the public and plan 4 was only declassified thirty years later,” says Prof Reynolds.

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