Karl Grossman

Professor, State University of New York, College at Old Westbury
Convenor, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Member, Commission on Disarmament Education, Conflict Resolution and Peace
of the International Association of University Presidents and the United Nations

Statement at the United Nations October 21, 1999

We have only a narrow window to prevent an arms race in space. The key is an international pact to ban all weapons in space, the original intent of the Outer Space Treaty. As Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Conference on Disarmament on January 26th of this year: space must be maintained "as a weapons-free environment."

We must all work together—and time is of the essence—to keep it that way.

The military of the United States of America is seeking—in the words of its Space Command—to "control space" and the Earth below. It desires to deploy weapons in space. The U.S. plans are explicitly laid out in various U.S. government documents.

These include the Vision For 2020 report of the U.S. Space Command. Here’s its cover depicting a laser weapon shooting a beam down from space zapping a target below.

And, the report proclaims in wording laid out like in the start of the Star Wars movies: "US Space Command—dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict."

Vision for 2020 compares the U.S. effort to control space and the Earth below to how centuries ago "nations built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests" by ruling the seas.

Guardians of the High Frontier calls space the "ultimate `high ground.’" It proudly displays a Space Command motto: "Master of Space."

"It’s politically sensitive, but it’s going to happen," General Joseph Ashy, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Space Command, has said. "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."

General Ashy spoke of "space control," the U.S. military’s term for control of space, and "space force application," its definition of control of Earth from space. "We’ll expand into these two missions," he said, "because they will become increasingly important. We will engage terrestrial targets someday—ships, airplanes, land targets—from space. We will engage targets in space, from space."

Far more than rhetoric is involved. Last year, a multi-million dollar contract was signed for a "Space-Based Laser Readiness Demonstrator." Here’s the military’s poster for this laser showing it firing its ray in space while a U.S. flag somehow waves in space above it.

Billions of dollars are being poured into what is now called U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense. Missile defense? In context, what the U.S. military appears to seek is largely to "control" and "dominate," not defend.

"With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it, and we’re going to keep it," Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force for Space Keith Hall, also director of the National Reconnaissance Office, has stated.

This article this month in the Albuquerque Journal begins: "U.S. military commanders are beginning to consider space as important an environment for war as they do land, sea and air."

New World Vistas: Air And Space Power For The 2lst Century states: "In the next two decades, new technologies will allow 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."

Such weapons will likely be nuclear-powered. Because "power limitations impose restrictions" on space weapons systems making them "relatively unfeasible….A natural technology to enable high power," New World Vistas says, "is nuclear power in space….Setting the emotional issues of nuclear power aside, this technology offers a viable alternative for large amounts of power in space."

The arming of the heavens is what we face—unless we stop it now.

Said Wang Xiaoyu, First Secretary of the Delegation of China to the Conference on Disarmament, at a seminar at the UN in Geneva on March 11 on "Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space" organized by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom:

"Outer space is the common heritage of human beings. It should be used entirely for peaceful purposes and for the economic, scientific, and cultural development of all countries as well as the well-being of mankind. It must not be weaponized and become another arena of the arms race."

The following day, at the plenary meeting of the Conference on Disarmament, Li Changhe, Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs of China, formally proposed reactivation of the ad hoc committee on Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space and having it "negotiate and conclude an international legal instrument banning the test, deployment and use of any weapons, weapon system and their components in outer space, with a view to preventing the weaponization of outer space."

China received wide support from other nations on the motion. I am embarrassed and chagrined to say that then and since, the U.S. has been blocking the call to activate the committee on PAROS.

Having space weapons-free was, in fact, the original intent of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, says Craig R. Eisendrath, a former U.S. State Department official who helped create the treaty.

Dr. Eisendrath told a workshop I led on weapons-in-space issues at the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference this June that it was in the wake of the Soviet launching of its Sputnik satellite in 1957 that the U.S. sought to "de-weaponize" space—before it got weaponized. The State Department, he explained, used the Antarctica Treaty as a model for the Outer Space Treaty.

The Outer Space Treaty, the fundamental international law on space, initiated by the U.S., United Kingdom and former Soviet Union and now signed by 91 nations, declaring that space shall be used "for peaceful purposes" and the "exploration and use of outer space…shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries," ended up banning "nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction" in space.

It’s high time we return to its original intent.

We have only a brief span of time to do so.

For if the U.S. moves forward with its military plans for space, other nations will follow. George Friedman, co-author of this book, The Future of War: Power, Technology & American World Dominance in the 2lst Century—yes, American World Dominance in the 2lst Century—claims that the U.S. can control the Earth for many years ahead because of its technological space prowess. Other nations—he names Russia, Japan and China—are just "passing blips," he says, "to compete with the U.S."

I’ve been to Russia; I’ve been to Japan; I’ve been to China. They are not passing technological "blips." If the United States moves to utilize space as the "ultimate high ground" militarily, to weaponize the heavens, other nations will follow—leading to a new arms race and ultimately war in space.

The people of the world must join with U.S. citizens to stop this move and all of us, together, work—as Secretary-General Annan said in January—"to codify principles which can ensure that outer space remains weapons-free."


Karl Grossman, full professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, has specialized in investigative reporting for 30 years.
Books he has authored include The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat To Our Planet (Common Courage Press).
He is writer and narrator of the video documentaries Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens and Nukes In Space 2: Unacceptable Risks (EnviroVideo, Box 311, Fort Tilden, N.Y. 11965).
He is a charter member of the Commission on Disarmament Education, Conflict Resolution and Peace.
He is convenor as well as a founder of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
Address: Karl Grossman, Box 1680, Sag Harbor, N.Y. 11963
(516) 725-2858
Fax: (516) 725-9338
E-Mail: kgrossman@hamptons.com
To reach the Global Network, telephone (352) 337-9274 or E-Mail: globenet@afn.org
Its Web Site is: http://www.globenet.free-online.co.uk/