Statement at the United Nations
June 24, 1998

By Karl Grossman

Professor of Journalism, State University of New York/College at Old Westbury
Author, The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program's Nuclear Threat To Our Planet
Writer and Narrator, TV Documentary: Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization And Weaponization of the Heavens

U.S. nuclear-powered activities in space are illegal under the international Outer Space Treaty of 1967. The U.S. has been covering its nuclear space flights since 1991 by the Price-Anderson Act, a U.S. law which the U.S. contends would limit liability in the event of an accident-involving Cassini or any another nuclear-fueled space device- to $8.9 billion for U.S. domestic damage and just $100 million for damage to all foreign nations.

This is in violation of the treaty's provision that nations "shall be liable" for damage caused by their space devices.

As for consequences of the planned 1998 Cassini Earth "flyby", in the event of what NASA calls an "inadverent reentry" - a crash of the space probe fueled with 72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere-NASA says in its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission that "approximately 5 billion of the estimated 7 to 8 billion world population at the time…could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure."

NASA in the report projects 2,300 fatal cancers in the event of such an accident. The report also speaks of plans to -- if plutonium rains down on urban areas, for example - "demolish some or all structures," "relocate affected population permanently."

The U.S. government's Interagency Nuclear Safety Review Panel "Safety Evaluation Report" on the Cassini mission, which I have obtained from Dr. Earl Budin, associate clinical professor of radiology at the UCLA, speaks of the possibility of "several tens of thousands" of cancer deaths.

It notes that in an Earth "flyby" accident because the plutonium cannisters "have not been designed for the high speed reentry…much of the plutonium is vaporized" and provides "a collective dose to the world's population."

NASA, not in its publicity statements but in the Final Environmental Impact Report, also concedes a release of much of the plutonium-and as respirable particles.

Meanwhile, the use is moving to deploy weapons in space and to exercise what it terms "space control." This is closely linked with space nuclear power.

As the 1996 U.S. Air Force report New World Vistas states: "In the next two decades, new technologies will allowing the fielding of space-based weapons of devastating effectiveness to be used to deliver energy and mass as force projection in tactical and strategic conflict…These advances will enable lasers with reasonable mass and cost to effect very many kills." But, the report notes, "power limitations impose restrictions" on such-based weapons systems making them "relatively unfeasible…. A natural technology to enable high power is nuclear power in space."

In April of this year, the government let contracts for the development of this spaceborne laser-non-nuclear powered but a first step.

Meanwhile, the Outer Space Treaty bans deployment in space by any nations of "weapons of mass destruction."

The treaty also states that nations should "avoid" activities that stand to produce "harmful contamination" of "space and celestial bodies" as well as "adverse changes in the environment of the Earth."

As General Joseph Ashy as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Space Command has stated: "It's politically sensitive, but it's going to happen…Some people don't want to hear this, and it sure isn't in vogue, but-absolutely-we're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space…That's why the U.S. has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms."

The U.S. space military approach is detailed in this book, The Future of War: Power, Technology & American World Dominance in the 2lst Century, in which George and Meredith Friedman state that through the domination of space with weaponry the U.S. will dominate the planet below and "just as Europe shaped the world for a half a millennium" by the Britain, France and Spain dominating the oceans with their fleets, "so too the United States will shape the world for at least that length of time." They boost the use of nuclear power as an energy source in this regard.

As to future U.S. plutonium-fueled space shots, the U.S. General Accounting Office has just issued a report describing eight of them in coming years. A NASA statement speaks of up to 13. With a 12% failure rate already in both the U.S. and Soviet/Russian space nuclear programs, accidents-and disaster-are inevitable.

The National Space Symposium at which the new space-borne laser contract was announced was to -- said the advertisements of the United States Space Foundation for it -- "explore the Global Relevance of Space and the interdependence of Civil and Commercial and Military space efforts. It is clear that `space is open for business.'"

I say space must not be declared "open" for the collosally dangerous, wasteful and illegal nuclear and military "business." Space, as the Outer Space Treaty states, should be used "for peaceful purposes…The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries."

Karl Grossman Biography

Karl Grossman is a full professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury who for almost 30 years has pioneered combining investigative reporting and environmental journalism. He is the author of The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program's Nuclear Threat To Our Planet (Common Courage Press, 1997) and writer and narrator of the award-winning video documentary Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens (EnviroVideo 1995).

His journalism on the use of nuclear power in space has been repeatedly cited in the annual judging of Sonoma State University's Project Censored as among the issues most "censored" or "under-reported" by the U.S. news media. In 1997, Project Censored selected Grossman's articles on the subject as its "top censored story of 1996." This April he was again cited by Project Censored for his journalism on the use of nuclear power in space with his reporting on the crash of the Russian Mars space probe into Chile and Bolvia being listed on the Project Censored list. This will be the fifth year that Grossman's journalism on the issue has been cited by Project Censored-more times than any other specific issue in Project Censored's history. The first citation Grossman received from Project Censored on the issue was in 1987 for his revelation in 1986 that the next schedule mission of the ill-fated shuttle Challenger involved a plutonium-fueled space probe.

He is currently completing with EnviroVideo a sequel to Nukes In Space.

He is a member of the Commission on Disarmament Education, Conflict Resolution and Peace of the International Association of University Presidents and the United Nations.


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