Richard Tanter

Richard Tanter is Senior Research Associate, Nautilus Institute, and Professor in the School of Political and Social Studies at the University of Melbourne. From 2004 – 2010 he was Professor of International Relations in the Research and Innovation Portfolio, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and Director of  Nautilus Institute in Australia, where he  coordinated Austral Peace and Security Net, the Australian Forces Abroad briefing book series (including Australian Bases Abroad and Australian Defence Facilities), and the Climate Change and Reframing Australia-Indonesia Security project. Within Nautilus he has been closely involved in the Global Problem Solving project,  the East Asian Science and Security Collaborative, and the Indonesian Nuclear Power Proposal study project.

From 1989-2003 Richard was Professor of International Relations in the School of Environmental and Social Studies at Kyoto Seika University in Japan. After returning from Japan in 2003, he was Senior Curriculum Consultant to Deakin University for its Security Studies graduate program at the Australian Defence College’s Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies. His PhD dissertation for Monash University in 1992 was on Intelligence Agencies and Third World Militarization: A Case Study of Indonesia.

Richard has worked on peace, security and environment issues in East and Southeast Asia as analyst, policy advocate and activist since the 1970s. His research has focussed on militarisation and peace issues in Indonesia, Korea and Japan, as well as the wider politics of East and Southeast Asia. In East Asia he has written on questions of Japanese security policy, its intersection with US policy and relations with China, the issues of Japanese  missile defence and electronic intelligence capabilities, and the possibilities of Japanese acquisition of nuclear weapons. More recently he has been working with Nautilus colleagues and research partners on theoretical and policy aspects of nuclear extended deterrence in East Asia and the Pacific; nuclear energy issues in East and Southeast Asia; and Australian defence and foreign policy.

Richard Tanter, Seoul, 2009

Richard Tanter, Seoul, 2009

His most recent books on East Timor are Masters of Terror: Indonesia’s Military and Violence in East Timor in 1999, [co-edited with Gerry Van Klinken and Desmond Ball] and Bitter Flowers, Sweet Flowers: East Timor, Indonesia and the World Community [edited with Mark Selden and Stephen Shalom]; and About face: Japan’s remilitarisation, Austral Special Report 09-02S, 19 March 2009 [original publication by CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, Tokyo, November 2006; released for general circulation, courtesy CLSA.]Richard is a frequent commentor on international affairs in newspapers, radio and television, and has been quoted in the New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Asahi Shimbun, Tempo, Jakarta Post, ABC, BBC, VOA, Al Jazeera, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, Straits Times, and Pravda.


Contact details

  • Phone: +61 (0)40 7824336
  • Email:


  • Interview languages: English, Japanese.
  • Reading languages: Indonesian, French.


Richard Tanter’s recent publications include:


The Tools of Owatatsumi: Japan’s Ocean Surveillance and Defence, (Canberra, ANU Press) (with Desmond Ball)


Indonesia, Australia and Edward Snowden: ambiguous and shifting asymmetries of power, Nautilus Institute, Special Report, 29 November 2013; expanded and updated version: Indonesia, Australia and the Edward Snowden Legacy: Shifting asymmetries of power, The Asia Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 10, No. 3, March 10, 2014; abridged version: ‘Power asymmetries and Australian hubris: Indonesia, Australia and Edward Snowden’, Arena Magazine, No, 127, December 2013- January 2014, pp. 19-22.

Modernised High Frequency Communications System – Riverina node‘, Australian Defence Facilities, Nautilus Institute, 24 November 2013.

After Fukushima: A Survey of Corruption in the Global Nuclear Power Industry‘, Asian Perspective, October-December 2013, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 475-500.

The US military presence in Australia: asymmetrical alliance cooperation and its alternatives“, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 45, No. 1, 11 November 2013.

“”Possibilities and effects of a nuclear missile attack on Pine Gap“, Australian Defence Facilities, Nautilus Institute, 30 October 2013

ASD Cocos Islands Signals Intelligence Station“, Australian Defence Facilities, Nautilus Institute, 5 October  2013.

The continuing silence on 4 Squadron SASR operations in East Africa“, Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (5 October 2013)

“The Great Killings in Indonesia through the Australian Mass Media” / “Pembunuhan Massal di Indonesia dalam Tinjauan Media Massa Australia”, in Bernd Schaefer and Baskara T. Wardaya (eds.), 1965: Indonesia and the World / 1965 Indonesia dan Dunia, Jakarta: Kompas Gramedia, 2013, (bilingual edition), pp. 129-144 and 372-391.

Log of US Navy ship visits to Darwin, 2000 – 2013Australian Defence Facilities, Nautilus Institute, (updated 28 September 2013)

Absurd, obscene and reckless – American nuclear weapons in the defence of Australia“, Dissent (Australia), no. 42, Spring 2013.

The Papua-New Guinea Solution”: Competitive Cruelty and Strategic Folly“, NAPSNet Policy Forum, 6 August 2013,

Bamaga Signals Intelligence Station“, Australian Defence Facilities, Nautilus Institute, 1 August  2013.

Ending undeclared wars: repeal of authorizing legislation“, Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (31 May 2013)

No progress on extended nuclear deterrence in 2013 White Paper“, The Strategist (ASPI) (27 May 2013)

A question of accountability as HMAS Sydney joins USN Carrier Strike Group, Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (20 May 2013)

A dangerous tug of war”, The Age, 15 February 2013; extended version: “An Australian Role in Reducing the Prospects of China-Japan War over the Senkakus/Diaoyutai?” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 7, No. 1, February 18, 2013.

The sick man of Asia: costs of denial“, Policy Forum, Nautilus Institute, 10 January 2013


The “Joint Facilities” revisited – Desmond Ball, democratic debate on security, and the human interest, Special Report, Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, 12 December 2012 (abridged earlier version appeared as American bases in Australia revisited, in Brendan Taylor, Nicholas Farrelly and Sheryn Lee (eds.) Insurgent Intellectual: Essays in honour of Professor Desmond Ball, (ISEAS, December 2012)

US joint facilities are a threat to the national interest“, The Conversation, 4 December 2012

Australia in the Pacific pivot: national interests and the expanding “joint facilities”‘, Policy Forum, Nautilus Institute, 27 November 2012

A New Approach to Security in Northeast Asia – Breaking the Gridlock Workshop, Summary Report (with Binoy Kampmark and Peter Hayes), Nautilus Institute, Special Report, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C., October 9-10, 2012

Another hinge for the Pacific Pivot: Australia’s nuclear navy? Nautilus Peace and Security Weekly Report, 16 November 2012

Key Elements of Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons Free Zone (NEA-NWFZ) (with Peter Hayes),  Workshop on New Approach to Security in Northeast Asia: Breaking the Gridlock, Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 9-10 October 2012.

Standing upright there: the New Zealand path to a nuclear-free world, Nautilus Institute, NAPSNet, Policy Forum, 3 October 2012

The Transformation of the JASDF’s Intelligence and Surveillance Capabilities for Air and Missile Defence, (with Desmond Ball), Security Challenges, Vol. 8 No. 3 (Spring 2012)

Shared problems, shared interests: reframing Australia-Indonesia security relations, in Jemma Purdey (editor), Knowing Indonesia: Intersections of Self, Discipline and Nation, (Monash University Press)

Rowing between two reefs: China, the United States and containment revenant, Nautilus Peace and Security Weekly Report, 9 August 2012

Memo to Stephen Smith: there are US bases in Australia and they are expanding, The Conversation, 7 August 2012

Rare human’s compassion for all beyond brotherhood – Obituary: David Horace Ford Scott, AO, Activist, 23-1-1925 – 24-2-2012, The Age, 1 May 2012

Nuclear corruption 2012 to date, Nautilus Peace and Security Weekly Report, 5 July 2012

Complex Uncertainties in the Australian Hinge of the Pacific Pivot, Nautilus Peace and Security Weekly Report, 31 May 2012

After Obama–The New Joint Facilities, Arena Magazine, May 2012

Dual Aspects to the War in Afghanistan for Many Australians, Disarming Times (Pax Christi), Vol. 36, No. 3, Aug/Sept/Oct 2011.

TEPCO Country after Fukushima, Arena Magazine, June 2011 [footnoted version]

Indonesia’s dangerous silence, Inside Story, 28 April 2011

The Path from Fukushima: Short and Medium-term Impacts of the Reactor Damage Caused by the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on Japan’s Electricity System (contributing author with David Von Hippel, Kae Takase and Peter Hayes), Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, April 11, 2011 [Executive summary]

“Just in Case”: Extended Nuclear Deterrence in the Defense of AustraliaPacific Focus, Vol. 26, No. 1 (April 2011)

Beyond the nuclear umbrella: re-thinking the theory and practice of nuclear extended deterrence in East Asia and the Pacific, (with Peter Hayes), Pacific Focus, Vol. 26, No. 1 (April 2011)

After the Deluge: Short and Medium-term Impacts of the Reactor Damage Caused by the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (co-author with David Von Hippel, Kae Takase and Peter Hayes), Special Report, Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, March 17, 2011 [Executive Summary]

Out of the war: eight steps to a sustainable peace in Afghanistan, Austral Policy Forum 10-03A, 15 December 2010; abridged version in Dissent, (34) Summer 2010

North by North West Cape: Eyes on China, Austral Policy Forum 10-02A, 14 December 2010; abridged version as Joint operations, Arena Magazine, December 2010