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The impact of British nuclear tests in Australia as well as the government funded uranium mines which operated from the 1950s through to the early 1970s the most notorious of these mines being Rum Jungle has had a significant impact on the Australian environment and has caused long term damage to water systems wildlife and plant life In order to understand why Britain undertook nuclear tests in Australia and why the Australian government helped to fund uranium mining one must understand the political climate of the time In 1947 the British government under Prime Minister Clemet Atlee who it could be argued was eager for the country to acquire nuclear weapon capabilities due to the fear that if the United States were the only country to have the nuclear bomb Britains role in the world would be down graded to being that of little more than a second ranked nation in relation to the global community So thus the decision was made by the Atlee government that if Britain was to retain her status as a global power in the new world after the Second World War then she would need to acquire the nuclear bomb as soon as possible But although they had the technology to develop nuclear weapons they had been working on them since 1939 they had no where to test them due to Britain been too small and overcrowded Therefore Britain would have to look overseas for possible tests sites in countries where their were large uninhabited regions suitable for atmospheric and contained nuclear explosions Britain at first requested permission to use the Nevada test site in the United States but although the Americans agreed somewhat reluctantly to let the British use the site they imposed conditions which made it impractical to do so In 1949 the Liberal party came to power under Robert Menzies and Britains problem of where to test was solved The Menzies government believed it
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