The Nuclear Missile Defence Shield (baptised “Son of Star Wars”) was an important part of George Bush’s election manifesto in 2000. Leading experts claim that if put to the test, the multi-billion dollar system will be a flop. This would put the credibility of the whole project, and its supporters in the White House, at risk.
The main critic of the system is Theodore Postol, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who claims that the system would be unable to differentiate between nuclear warheads targeted at the USA and the decoys which would inevitably accompany them. Furthermore, he claims that the MIT has evidence from tests that the system would fail but that this has been covered up, leading him to claim that a “serious fraud” has been committed.
The Nuclear Missile Defence Shield is a system which intercepts incoming warheads with missiles while they are still in space. Other systems, still in the project stage, involve particle beam accelerator rays fired at the warheads from a space vehicle, possibly detonating the nuclear missiles while they are still in the airspace of the country which launched them.
Prof. Postol and other critics claim that the notion of hitting a missile with a missile is impossible to guarantee with 100% security, especially because incoming warheads could easily be equipped with multiple decoys, or even anti-anti-missiles, aimed at the interceptors fired by the defence system.
Tests made in 1997 by TWR, a military contracting company, on a prototype interceptor missile showed that the system could sense which were the real warheads and which were the decoys. However, a former employee of the company, Nira Schwartz, claims that the results of the tests were faked. This claim was backed up later by the House of Congress General Accounting Office, which claimed that the evidence presented by TWR, was “highly misleading”. However, the project had already been given the go-ahead by a federally funded research project, Lincoln Laboratories, which function within the scope of the MIT.
In the event, Raytheon, a competitor of TWR gained the contract with the Bush administration to set up ten interceptor units in Alaska by 2004. Nevertheless, since Raytheon uses the same technology based upon infra-red rays to choose between the decoys and the warheads, the same flaws are likely to exist, claims Prof. Postol.
Experts claim that thousands of metal decoys would be enough to fool an interceptor missile and if the warheads were coated in rubber foam or any other radar-absorbing material, the sensors would not be able to differentiate between the warhead or the decoy. Postol’s claims that the Patriot missiles issued to Israel during the Gulf War would be a failure were later proved to be true, since not all the Iraqi SCUDs were intercepted. Furthermore, almost 50% of the tests made on rocket-to-rocket interception systems in the last three years have provided evidence that the systems fail to guarantee an effective interception.
How it is possible for the laboratories involved to continue to receive hundreds of millions of dollars to continue working on a project which at its outset is doomed is a question which George W. Bush might choose to answer.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
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