Nuclear Testing in Australia and the Pacific

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Compare nuclear testing in Australia and the Pacific Islands. What are the significant similarities and differences? Were they due to environmental or political factors?|

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____________Introduction 150 words (do last)

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istory of Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear energy is produced from the splitting of the nucleus of an atom. Physicists throughout history have been aware of the power that can be found in the atom and many tests were conducted and theorys put to practice. Initially fuelled by scientific curiosity, over time, the curiosity changed to the desire to unleash the atomic energy (DeGroot, 2004). In 1919, Physicist Ernest Rutherford, discovered how to ‘split the atom’ as it was termed (not technically correct, as the atom does not actually split) and the basis for the atomic bomb began. In the 1930’s, during the eve of World War II, the potential to kill with great efficiency became the common objective both for the military and politicians alike. Through this shared goal, government funding became readily available for many laboratories around the world (ref). It is estimated that the United States Government alone spent two billion dollars during a six year period on the ‘Manhattan Project’. The Manhattan Project was also supported by Britain and Canada for the sole purpose of making the atomic bomb a viable weapon for the American military. This intention of developing a nuclear weapon came to completion on July 16th, 1945 when the first nuclear bomb was tested in New Mexico (ref). Many other countries shared the Americans vision for nuclear weapons and began their own investigations into the most destructive and powerful weapon in human history. Britain, France and the Soviet Union joined the nuclear arms race with The Soviet Union being the only country to test within its homeland. The United States undertook further testing of their nuclear weapons in New Mexico, The Marshall Islands and also Nevada. Britain had two testing sites within the mainland of Australia and additional sites on the Islands of Monte Bello, Christmas and Malden. The French government chose the Sahara desert in Algeria and two locations within French Polynesia (Firth & Strokirch, 1997).

____________________________________________________History of nuclear testing in Australia Mark Oliphant was an Adelaide born physicist who completed his doctorate in the UK under Sir Ernest Rutherford at Cambridge University. Later in his career, Oliphant became a member of the secret group code named ‘The Maud Committee’. This was a department set up by the British Government in the mid 1940’s to find ways to build the atomic bomb (ref). In August 1941, Oliphant arrived in the United States with other members of the Maud Committee in an endeavour to seek cooperation in nuclear research. This was met by a lack of interest from the Americans; however, Oliphant did pass on his findings to the Australian representative in Washington at the time, R. G. Casey. Oliphant’s knowledge led Casey to realise the enormous destructive force that was apparent within his research of the atomic bomb. This information was later passed on to the Menzies Government where it gave a probable remedy to the countries perceived lack of defence. This was also seen as the reason behind passing a bill that immediately reserved all of Australia’s Uranium resources (ref). Uranium was the basis for the fission within nuclear devices so it was perceived that this regulation would become financially beneficial to the Australian Government. The Commonwealth government was in control of all Australian Uranium resources after the creation of the Atomic Energy Act of 1943 (Arnold & Smith, 2006). This potential...
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