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Mar 22
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UN Report: Disarmament Disillusion

By Carla Stea / RCFP

The gargantuan gap between rhetoric and reality is seldom as apparent as it is at the United Nations. At the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Sergio Duarte, presided over the entire spectrum of conferences held by the First Committee on Disarmament. Among the more provocative and disturbing panel discussions chaired by the elegant and vastly experienced Mr. Duarte, was a conference entitled “Reframing Nuclear De-Alert: Decreasing the Operational Readiness of US and Russian Arsenals.” Representing the United States was (Retired) General Eugene E. Habiger, former Commander in Chief of the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM); and, representing Russia, was Dr. Sergey Rogov, head of the Institute of US and Canadian Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences. The panel discussed various attempts by the two countries to reduce the risk of accidental launching of nuclear weapons by changing their status to ‘de-alert,’ and, while a substantial number of nuclear weapons have been downgraded to de-alert status, the point was made that this diminished risk could be easily reversed, and therefore represented no permanent threat reduction.

Although there was great celebration following the September 24th 2009 United Nations Security Council meeting chaired by President Obama, a meeting which declared agreement on the goal of the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons, the implementation of this agreement is obstructed by irreconcilable differences in national policies, among the most acrimonious of which is the expansion of NATO.

At this United Nations conference on “Reframing Nuclear de-alert,” I asked both the American and Russian panelists whether NATO expansion is preventing serious progress on de-alerting of nuclear weapons, and I received two mutually exclusive replies. General Habiger stated that NATO expansion had no effect whatsoever on plans for nuclear de-alerting. In direct contradiction to this statement, the Russian, Dr. Sergey Rogov stated: “I do not like this NATO expansion. And if conventional strike weapons attack Russian military targets, this will be regarded by Russia as the same as a nuclear strike, and Russia will respond with nuclear weapons.”

NATO expansion has forced Russia to a 180 degree reversal of its original doctrine, which stated that: “The Soviet Union will never be the first to use nuclear weapons.” Russia has now been so existentially threatened by NATO expansion that, as Dr. Rogov declared, Russia will immediately respond with nuclear weapons to any conventional strike weapons that attack Russian military targets. Clearly, notwithstanding the United Nations September 24th Security Council commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, NATO expansion is provoking a more precarious nuclear posture than existed throughout the entire cold war, which was protected for decades by the extremely cautious Soviet nuclear doctrine.

Two years earlier, at the United Nations, on October 15, 2007, the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office at Geneva introduced: “The Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, The Threat of Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects: No Alternative to Cooperative Approach.” The Treaty states:

“The developed countries will not turn a blind eye to possible intentions of even one country to place weapons in outer space. Most probably, efforts would be undertaken to prevent this from happening and to counter such intentions either with reciprocal creation and deployment of certain types of space weapons, development of anti-space weapons systems, or by building other types of weapons. Hence the danger of military confrontation, instigation of military rivalry spilling over into a new domain – outer space…It would not be an exaggeration to suppose that the emergence of weapons in outer space will predetermine an armed confrontation in outer space. To be sure that no one is preparing to place weapons in outer space – and Russia, the United States and Britain have already made specific political statements that they were not doing so – the non-weaponization of outer space should become a legally binding norm.”

It was, therefore startling to hear, at the United Nations, on October 21, 2009, the Secure World Foundation propose a legal regime governing war in outer space. This unthinkable concept, the very concept of war in outer space, is sheer madness, and any attempt to place such warfare within a “legal framework” is an oxymoron, and an attempt to rationalize insanity. This “legal regime” states: “Nothing in the present Charter (of the United Nations) shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations (article 51, United Nations Charter). The “legal regime” continues: “Given the rapid acceleration of technology and the desire to create a long-lasting instrument, an approach could be to elucidate key principles on the use of force as they apply to space, then focus on the testing and use of specific systems in the space environment…Questions of prohibiting the testing and use of specific systems in the space environment in any circumstances negating the right to use them under a Security Council mandate or in self defense.”

The “Legal Regime” presented by the Secure World Foundation is an attempt to legitimize the untenable United States opposition to the 2007 treaty prohibiting the placement of weapons in outer space. The United States opposition to the 2007 treaty states: “The United States opposed the Treaty, declaring: ‘the President’s national space policy clearly states that we will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit United States’ access to, or use of space, or that impairs the right of the United States to conduct research, development, testing and operations or other activities in space for United States national interests.”

Amidst the celebrations of United States leadership at the United Nations Security Council meeting on the non-proliferation and abolition of nuclear weapons, the terrifying possibility exists that deadlier weapons are in the research and development stage, and the plan for such weapons is attested to by Dr. Helen Caldicott, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Co-Founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility. In her introduction to War in Heaven, the Arms Race in Outer Space, co-authored with Craig Eisendrath, Dr. Caldicott writes:

“In 1999, I was invited by Bruce Gagnon, an Air Force pilot and former Republican, to attend a meeting in Florida that addressed the weaponization of space. Having never heard of this concept before, and believing that the Cold War was over, I accepted the invitation with alacrity. This meeting, which featured extremely knowledgeable people made me realize that I had been living in a fool’s paradise. To my horror, industrial corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, TRW Aerojet, Hughes Space, Sparta Corp, and Vista Technologies had produced a Long Range Plan, written with the cooperation of the US Space Command, announcing a declaration of US Space leadership and calling for the funding of defensive systems and a ‘seamlessly integrated force of theater land, sea, air and space capabilities through a worldwide global defense information network.’ The US Space Command would also ‘hold at risk’ a finite number of ‘high value’ earth targets with near instantaneous force application – the ability to kill from space. As retired general Robert R. Fogelman, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, ‘I think that space, in and of itself, is going to be very quickly recognized as a Fourth dimension of warfare.’ I also discovered that the much-vaunted missile defense system was to be closely integrated with the weaponization of space, and that all the hardware and software would be made by the same firms, at the combined cost of hundreds of billions of dollars to the US taxpayers. I staggered home from that meeting deciding that I must become re-involved in educating the public about the impending catastrophe associated with the mad plans of the US Space Command and its associated corporations.”

Dr. Caldicott witnessed all this eleven years ago. How advanced are these outer-space weapons today?

Carla Stea has written for “Covert Action,” and “War and Peace Digest,” and numerous other publications in the USA, also in “Komsomolskaya Pravda” in the Soviet Union, and in “Rabochaya Tribuna” and “Sovetskaya Rossia,” in Russia, as well as in publications in England and Latin America.  I hold press accreditation at the US Department of State, and formerly at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union and Russia, and Dinacos, in Santiago, Chile.