The Guardian July 12, 2000


Star Wars: Making nuclear war "winnable"

by Peter Mac

At about the time of publication of this issue of The Guardian, the 
US will have tested its latest "Star Wars" space technology. In the face of 
strong opposition from the governments of China and Russia, but with the 
enthusiastic applause of Tony Blair, the US seems determined to go ahead 
regardless.

Writing in the People's Weekly World, Tim Wheeler says that the US 
Space Command plans to "control space in order to protect US interests and 
investments". 

Karl Grossman, media spokesperson for the Global Network Against Weapons 
and Nuclear Power in Space and an investigative journalist says, "They call 
this a 'ballistic missile defence' but that is just the entering wedge. 
Their real aim is to dominate earth from space."

Cost billions

The ground-based Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD), said Karl Grossman, is a 
full-fledged system of nuclear powered and nuclear armed space weapons that 
will cost hundreds of billions of dollars with a down-payment of $60 
billion to be followed by billions more.

"This will open up an arms race in space and eventually a war in space. 
Everybody is going to be the loser except Lockheed Martin. This is nothing 
short of astro-imperialism."

Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist at City University of New York told a 
protesting crowd in New York: "The time has come for us all to say `No' to 
the Star Wars system. No to BMD! Shut it down!"

Faked test results

Kaku cited a front page article in the March 7 New York Times in 
which Dr Nira Schwartz, a former senior Star Wars engineer for TRW 
Corporation, exposed TRW's faking of test results to make it appear that 
anti-ballistic missiles successfully shot down a target ballistic missile. 
Other former employees corroborated her charges. Kaku told the New York 
demonstration, "We now know the test results were a fraud. This is $120 
billion down a rathole."

Russian response

At a meeting in Moscow with Russia's President Putin, Clinton attempted to 
talk the Russian government into modifying the ABM treaty ratified in 1972 
which limited use of space for such purposes. Mr Putin strongly denounced 
the US plan saying that the creation of the national missile shield is a 
"big strategic error that will only increase strategic threats to the US 
and Russia, as well as other states."

The Russian government has made it clear that if Washington withdraws from 
the ABM treaty, Russia will cancel its obligations not only under the START 
treaties, but also under the treaty on elimination of medium and shorter-
range missiles.

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement severely criticised US industrial 
giants for seeking profits from new military orders, including those 
relating to the ABM defence system or the Star Wars program. 

While the Russian Duma recently ratified the long-stalled START II arms 
control agreement they added a clause that the treaty will be null and void 
if the US deploys BMD.

China rejects

A similarly strong rejection has been voiced by the government of China. 
Speaking at the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Huang 
Huikang, head of the Chinese delegation said: "Recently, a certain country 
has accelerated development and testing of an outer space weapon system, or 
the so-called Tactical Missile Defence (TMD), which risks intensification 
of an arms race in out space. Such as action is contradictory to the 
current trends and goes against established international principles. Outer 
space belongs to all mankind. Therefore, exploration and use of it should 
proceed on a peaceful basis and serve the economic, scientific and cultural 
development of all countries. The Chinese representative said that "In 
order to prohibit testing and using weapons in outer space, an 
international legal instrument should be negotiated and concluded 
immediately."

Justification

The US attempts to justify its Star Wars project by referring to the danger 
allegedly coming from "rogue states" such as North Korea, Iraq and Iran.

Such suggestions are laughable. These states do not possess nuclear weapons 
and their industrial and technical development rules out any possibility 
that they could threaten the "security" of the United States either now or 
in the future.

Putin rejected the US allegations about the "rogue states" saying that such 
a threat "is not going to emerge in the visible future."

Michio Kaku the US scientist, also scorned the Pentagon's argument asking: 
"Who is really the rogue nation? What nation has wrecked the Comprehensive 
Test Ban Treaty? What nation refuses to ratify the Treaty banning land 
mines? The only rogue nation is the United States of America!"

Kaku denounced Star Wars as a grave violation of the 1972 anti-ballistic 
missile (ABM) treaty with the Soviet Union. "This is a plan to rule the 
world from outer space. These are not my words. The Pentagon makes no bones 
about it."

Pre-emptive war

During the Eisenhower administration the Pentagon appointed a task force to 
study the feasibility of launching a pre-emptive nuclear war on the USSR 
under the code name "Operation Off-tackle."

The plan called for 735 US strategic bombers to hit the Soviet Union, 
pulverising the country with nuclear bombs.

"This was more than just an option. [The then] Secretary of Defence James 
Forrestal actually recommended that the attack be carried out," said Kaku.

Eisenhower had one question. "How many Soviet Bison and Bear bombers would 
survive the attack?" The Pentagon's reply: "We do not know. Enough of them 
might survive to destroy New York City or the Northeast of the US." 
Eisenhower decided the "window of opportunity" had closed.

However, the Pentagon has never given up its Star Wars dreaming and has 
continued to develop an anti-missile defence system that would reduce US 
losses low enough to make a nuclear war "winnable".

US threats

Although Clinton was supposed to have made a decision for or against the 
missile program in June, he may be leaving a decision to the next US 
President. Vice President Al Gore is "cautious" and moving slowly on Star 
Wars but Texas Governor George W Bush the Republican Presidential candidate 
"would proceed with not one but two missile defence systems at the earliest 
possible date".

In a speech last September laying out his foreign and military policy Bush 
said that if he is elected president, he would present the Russians with an 
ultimatum on changes in the ABM Treaty to permit the US to deploy Star 
Wars. "If Russia refuses the changes we propose, we will give prompt notice 
under provisions of the Treaty that we can no longer be a party to it," 
Bush said.

Aim

Meanwhile, a senior commander of the Russian armed forces, Gen Nikolai 
Zlenko, warned the Pentagon that Moscow is "well-informed about and alarmed 
at the USA's Alaska-based R&D and preparatory work on creating a new 
national ABM network." He said it was an "embryo of a powerful monitoring 
network which will control the whole world in a matter of 30 to 40 years 
with satellites and terrestrial radars able to spot any missile wherever it 
is launched whereas the other side will not enjoy such an advantage bound 
as it will be by the 1972 Treaty.

"Moscow can and must do all to thwart US attempts to revise the treaty. 
Russia will never take part in and tolerate the gradual modernisation 
efforts of Star Wars weaponry," said Gen Zlenko.

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Acknowledgement to People's Weekly World and other sources

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