Richard Tanter

Richard Tanter is Senior Research Associate, Nautilus Institute, and Honorary Professor in the School of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Melbourne, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate subjects on ‘Nuclear Weapons and Disarmament’, Indonesia Rising?’ and ‘Australian Foreign Policy’. He is a former president of the Australian board of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2017.

From 2004 – 2010 he was Professor of International Relations in the Research and Innovation Portfolio, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and Director of the Nautilus Institute in Australia.

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, and, with Desmond Ball, on Japanese electronic intelligence capabilities. More recently he has focussed on Australian defence and foreign policy, and with Desmond Ball and Bill Robinson on a series of papers on the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap.

Richard Tanter, Seoul, 2009

Richard Tanter, Seoul, 2009

His most recent book, with Desmond Ball) is The Tools of Owatatsumi: Japan’s Ocean Surveillance and Coastal Defence Capabilities, Canberra, ANU Press, 2015.

Richard is a frequent commentator 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:


Imagining the Possible: Asia-Pacific Prospects for the Nuclear Ban Treaty‘, GlobalAsia, Vol.16 No.2, (June 2021), pp. 48-51.

Hope Becomes Law: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the Asia-Pacific Region‘, Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament, Vol. 4, (2021), Supplement 1, pp. 234-275, DOI: 10.1080/25751654.2021.1908736


Mystifying Pine Gap, Distorting Des Ball: Notes on Brian Toohey’s Secret: The Making of Australia’s Security State, Nautilus Institute, NAPSNet Policy Forum Online, 11 January 2021 [with a response by Brian Toohey].

Hope Becomes Law: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the Asia Pacific Region, Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, Special Report, 13 December 2020.

‘WikiLeaks, Australia and empire’, in Felicity Ruby and Peter Cronau, (eds.), A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks Exposés, Monash University Press, 2020.


Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Threat to the British Nuclear Weapons State’, Pearls & Irritations, 22 December 2019

Hiding from the light: The establishment of the Joint Australia-United States Relay Ground Station at Pine Gap, Special Report, Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, 2 November 2019; short version: ‘Pine Gap history-dogged by censorship and dereliction of duty‘, Pearls & Irritations, 14 November 2019

‘An Australian pathway through Pine Gap to the nuclear ban treaty’, Pearls & Irritations, 5 August 2019; Alice Springs News, 6 August 2019; [extended and footnoted version here].


Darwin, the Marines, and touring the American empire of bases‘, Pearls & Irritations, 17 November 2018; extended version: ‘Touring the American empire of bases with the Marines‘, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 166, Issue 22, No. 4, 10 November 2018.

Erwin Chlanda, ‘Pine Gap’s new role as a war fighting command centre‘, Alice Springs News, 22 June 2018.

Yemen, Australian mercenaries and the shifting sands of Australia–Middle East alliances‘, Arena Magazine, (155), August 2018; extended and footnoted version here. See also ‘The war in Yemen: the Australian connection‘, Late Night Live, Radio National, ABC, 3 September 2018.

Pine Gap electricity supply and the Ausgrid controversy‘, Pearls and Irritations, 30 May 2018

‘Tightly Bound: Australia’s Alliance-Dependent Militarization’, Global Asia, Spring 2018, Vol.13 No.1; reprinted in Pearls & Irritations, 18 May 2018); extended and documented version: ‘Tightly Bound: The United States and Australia’s Alliance-Dependent Militarization‘, Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 16, Issue 11, Number 2 (31 May 2018)

Bad, bad BADA (aka Bipartisan Australian Defence Agreement)‘, Pearls & Irritations, 1 March 2018.


‘Pine Gap’s nuclear role and the alternative’, Alice Springs News, 15 November 2017; extended version: ‘The nuclear ban treaty, Pine Gap and the Nobel Peace Prize‘, Pearls and Irritations, 16 November 2017.

Richard Tanter: Australia hardwired into US military planning in Korea’, NT News, 13 November 2017.

Submission to the Defence Sub-Committee, Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Inquiry into the benefits and risks of a Bipartisan Australian Defence Agreement, as a basis of planning for, and funding of, Australian Defence Capability, 2 November 2017.

North Korea necessitates a reassessment of Australia’s US intelligence bases’, East Asia Forum, 13 October 2017; extended version published as ‘Pine Gap and a possible Korean war’, Pearls and Irritations, 16 October 2017.

John Blaxland on Des Ball and Pine Gap’, The Strategist, 13 September 2017.

A Global Nuclear Weapons Ban? Ready Or Not, Here It Comes‘,  Australian Outlook, 19 June 2017.

Prospects and Challenges of Nuclear Power and Small Modular Reactors in Indonesia, (with Bernadette K. Cogswell, Nataliawati Siahaan, Friga Siera R, and M. V. Ramana), Nautilus Institute and Indonesian Institute of Energy Economics, NAPSNet Special Report,  27 April 2017.

Photo Essay: Landscapes of Secret Power‘. Photography by Kristian Laemmle-Ruff, Trevor Paglen, Felicity Ruby, and Desmond Ball. Text by Richard Tanter, Arena Magazine, 147, May-June 2017 [footnoted version].

‘Trump chaos to our north? Where do we stand at the end of US hegemony in Asia?’, Arena Magazine, 146, March/April 2017, pp. 7-9; expanded version: ‘Donald Trump’s Japanese and South Korean Nuclear Threat to China: A tipping point in East Asia?’, The Asia-Pacific Journal/Japan Focus, Volume 15, Issue 7, Number 2, April 2017. [Japanese edition: 「トランプ政権が目論む日本と韓国の核武装、中国への威嚇:東アジアの転換期?」, 平和をめざす翻訳者たち」, 速報1003号、投稿日 2017年5月4日.]

‘Trump chaos to our north? Where do we stand at the end of US hegemony in Asia?’, Arena Magazine, 146, March/April 2017, pp. 7-9

‘Review & Forecast: The US-China ASW Calculus In the South China Sea’, Sea Technology, January 2017


Fifty years on, Pine Gap should reform to better serve Australia‘, The Conversation, 9 December 2016.

Nuclear weapons: the Trump reality’, Arena Magazine, 145, November-December 2016, p. 19-21.

The man who saved the world: remembering Des Ball’, Late Night Live, Radio National, ABC, 17 October 2016.

Our poisoned heart: the transformation of Pine Gap‘, Arena Magazine, No. 144, October 2016.

Pine Gap’s 50th anniversary‘, Late Night Live, Radio National, ABC, 28 September 2016

Australia’s participation in the Pine Gap enterprise, (with Desmond Ball and Bill Robinson), Nautilus Institute Special Report, 8 June 2016.

The Antennas of Pine Gap, (with Desmond Ball and Bill Robinson), Nautilus Institute Special Report, 22 February 2016. [High resolution PDF/Low resolution pdf]

Antennas of Pine Gaimages gallery, Joint Defence Faciiity Pine Gap, Australian Defence Facilities Briefing Book, Nautilus Institute

Table and photokey of antennas at Pine GapJoint Defence Facility Pine Gap, Australian Defence Facilities Briefing Book, Nautilus Institute

Full publication list