Preemptive Nuclear War against Iran

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research
December 6, 2011

The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran has been on the active drawing board of the Pentagon since 2005.

If such a war were to be launched, the entire Middle East Central Asia region would flare up.  Humanity would be precipitated into a World War III Scenario.

World War III is not front-page news. The mainstream media has excluded in-depth analysis and debate on the implications of these war plans.

The onslaught of World War III, were it to be carried out, would be casually described as a “no-fly zone”, an operation under NATO’s “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) with minimal “collateral damage” or a “limited” punitive bombing against specific military targets, all of which purport to support “Global Security” as well as “democracy” and human rights in the targeted country.

Public opinion is largely unaware of the grave implications of these war plans, which contemplate the use of nuclear weapons, ironically in retaliation to Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

Moreover, 21st Century military technology is at an advanced stage of development combining an array of sophisticated weapons systems.

We are at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in World history.

The future of humanity is at stake.

The present situation is one of advanced war planning by a formidable military force using nuclear warheads.

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest.

The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the World simultaneously.

Militarization at the global level is instrumented through the US military’s Unified Command structure: the entire planet is divided up into geographic Combatant Commands under the control of the Pentagon. According to (former) NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consists of a sequence of war theaters: “[The] five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”

Military action is waged in the name of the “Global War on Terrorism” and Global Security. It has a stated “humanitarian” “pro-democracy” mandate.

It is predicated on the notion that the West’s arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons are (in contrast to those [nonexistent] of the Islamic Republic), according to expert scientific opinion on contract to the Pentagon, “harmless to the surrounding civilian population because the explosion is underground.”

Irresponsible politicians are unaware of the implications of their actions. They believe their own war propaganda: nuclear weapons are heralded as an instrument of peace and democracy.

War is heralded as a peace-keeping making operation carried out with the support of the “international community”.

The victims of war are described as the perpetrators. Iran and Syria constitute a threat to Global Security thereby justifying pre-emptive military action.

Global Warfare

The concept of the “Long War” has characterised US military doctrine since the end of World War II.

The broader objective of global military dominance in support of an imperial project was first formulated under the Truman administration in the late 1940s at the outset of the Cold War.

We are dealing with a global military agenda, namely “Global Warfare”. The 2000 Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which was the backbone of the NeoCon’s agenda was predicated on “waging a war without borders”.

The PNAC’s declared objectives were to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars” in different regions of the World as well perform the so-called military “constabulary” duties “associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions”. Global constabulary implies a Worldwide process of military policing and interventionism, including covert operations and “regime change”. (Project for a New American Century, Rebuilding Americas Defenses.pdf, September 2000)

This diabolical military project formulated by the NeoCons was adopted and implemented from the very outset of the Obama administration. With a new team of military and foreign policy advisers, Obama has been far more effective in fostering military escalation than his predecessor in the White House, who has recently been condemned by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal for “Crimes against the Peace”.

In the present context, US military and intelligence actions are been undertaken in different part of the the World.

Ongoing war plans within the broader Middle East Central Asian region would involve coordinated actions against Iran, Syria and Pakistan leading to an extended regional war theater. The three existing and distinct war theaters (Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine) would merge into a broad regional war extending from the Lebanese-Syrian East Mediterraean coastline to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border with Western China (See map below). Israel, Lebanon and Turkey would be engulfed in the conflict.

It is important to address the history of this military agenda including the slated role of Israel.

The main coalition partners, including the US, UK, Israel and Turkey have been in “an advanced stage of readiness” since 2005.  The Combatant Command structure of a military operation against Iran is centralized and controlled by the Pentagon.

In 2005, USSTRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.”   This Combatant Command integration also included coordination with America’s allies including NATO, Israel and a number of frontline Arab states, which are members of NATO’s Mediterranean dialogue.  

To implement USSTRATCOM’s mandate, a new command unit entitled  Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike, or JFCCSGS was created. 

JFCCSGS was granted the mandate to oversee the launching of a nuclear attack against Iran in accordance with the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, approved by the US Congress in 2002. The NPR underscores the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons not only against “rogue states” (i.e. Iran) but also against China and Russia.  The operational implementation of the “Global Strike” was labelled CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022. The latter is described as “an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,’  CONPLAN 8022 is ‘the overall umbrella plan of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.’

Rebuild the Antiwar Movement. SAY NO to World War III

The antiwar movement is in crisis: civil society organizations are misinformed, manipulated or co-opted.

A large segment of “progressive” opinion is supportive of NATO’s  R2P “humanitarian”  mandate to extent that these war plans are being carried out with the “rubber stamp” of civil society.  

There is a definite need to rebuild the antiwar movement on entirely new premises.

The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well organized grassroots antiwar network, across the land, nationally and internationally, which challenges the structures of power and authority. People must mobilize not only against the military agenda, the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.

Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled: “We must fight against evil in all its forms as a means to preserving the Western way of life.”

Breaking the “big lie” which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

It should be understood that whatever its justification, War is a “Crime against the Peace” under Nuremburg.

George W. Bush and Anthony L. Blair have been condemned by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal for waging a criminal war of aggression against Iraq.

War crimes, however,  are not limited to the former US president and British Prime Minister. There are, so to speak, “New War Criminals on the Block” including the president of the United States of America Barack Hussein Obama, among others.

The acting heads of state and heads of government which support US-NATO-Israel wars of aggression under an R2P pretext are war criminals under international law. This proposition, which consists in unseating the war criminals in high office, is central to the waging of an effective antiwar movement.

This war can be prevented if people forcefully confront their governments, address the issue of war crimes, pressure their elected representatives, organize at the local level in towns, villages and municipalities, spread the word, inform their fellow citizens as to the implications of a global war, initiate debate and discussion within the armed forces.

Nuclear War against Iran

Below are excerpts from my January 2006 article (emphasis added) which outlines the process of military deployment including the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. To read the complete article click here: Nuclear War against Iran. A more detailed analysis is contained in my book entitled Towards a World War III Scenario (see ordering details below):  

“Various military exercises have been conducted, starting in early 2005. In turn, the Iranian Armed Forces have also conducted large scale military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf in December in anticipation of a US sponsored attack.

Since early 2005, there has been intense shuttle diplomacy between Washington, Tel Aviv, Ankara and NATO headquarters in Brussels.

In recent developments [late 2005], CIA Director Porter Goss on a mission to Ankara, requested Turkish Prime Minister  Recep Tayyip Erdogan “to provide political and logistic support for air strikes against Iranian nuclear and military targets.”  Goss reportedly asked ” for special cooperation from Turkish intelligence to help prepare and monitor the operation.” (DDP, 30 December 2005).

In turn, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given the green light to the Israeli Armed Forces to launch the attacks by the end of March [2006]:

All top Israeli officials have pronounced the end of March, 2006, as the deadline for launching a military assault on Iran…. The end of March date also coincides with the IAEA report to the UN on Iran’s nuclear energy program. Israeli policymakers believe that their threats may influence the report, or at least force the kind of ambiguities, which can be exploited by its overseas supporters to promote Security Council sanctions or justify Israeli military action.

(James Petras,  Israel’s War Deadline: Iran in the Crosshairs, Global Research, December 2005)

The US sponsored military plan has been endorsed by NATO, although it is unclear, at this stage [December 2005], as to the nature of NATO’s involvement in the planned aerial attacks.

“Shock and Awe” 

The various components of the military operation are firmly under US Command, coordinated by the Pentagon and US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska.

The actions announced by Israel would be carried out in close coordination with the Pentagon. The command structure of the operation is centralized and ultimately Washington will decide when to launch the military operation.

US military sources have confirmed that an aerial attack on Iran would involve a large scale deployment comparable to the US “shock and awe” bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003:

American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq. Using the full force of operational B-2 stealth bombers, staging from Diego Garcia or flying direct from the United States, possibly supplemented by F-117 stealth fighters staging from al Udeid in Qatar or some other location in theater, the two-dozen suspect nuclear sites would be targeted.

Military planners could tailor their target list to reflect the preferences of the Administration by having limited air strikes that would target only the most crucial facilities … or the United States could opt for a far more comprehensive set of strikes against a comprehensive range of WMD related targets, as well as conventional and unconventional forces that might be used to counterattack against US forces in Iraq

(See Globalsecurity.org at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iran-strikes.htm

In November [2005], US Strategic Command conducted a major exercise of a “global strike plan” entitled “Global Lightening”. The latter involved a simulated attack using both conventional and nuclear weapons against a “fictitious enemy”.

Following the “Global Lightening” exercise, US Strategic Command declared an advanced state of readiness.

Consensus for Nuclear War

No dissenting political voices have emerged from within the European Union.

There are ongoing consultations between Washington, Paris and Berlin. Contrary to the invasion of Iraq, which was opposed at the diplomatic level by France and Germany, Washington has been building “a consensus” both within the Atlantic Alliance and  the UN Security Council. This consensus pertains to the conduct of a nuclear war, which could potentially affect a large part of the Middle East Central Asian region.

Moreover, a number of frontline Arab states [i.e. Arab League] are now tacit partners in the US/ Israeli military project.  A year ago in November 2004, Israel’s top military brass met at NATO headquarters in Brussels with their counterparts from six members of the Mediterranean basin nations, including Egypt,  Jordan,  Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. [Arabic league and Israel work hand in glove] A NATO-Israel protocol  was signed. Following these meetings, joint military exercises were held off the coast of Syria  involving the US, Israel and Turkey. and in February 2005, Israel participated in military exercises and “anti-terror maneuvers” together with several Arab countries.

The media in chorus has unequivocally pointed to Iran as a “threat to World Peace”.

The antiwar movement has swallowed the media lies. The fact that the US and Israel are planning a Middle East nuclear holocaust is not part of the antiwar/ anti- globalization agenda.

The “surgical strikes” are presented to world public opinion as a means to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

We are told that this is not a war but a military peace-keeping operation, in the form of aerial attacks directed against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Mini-nukes: “Safe for Civilians” 

The press reports, while revealing certain features of the military agenda, largely serve to distort the broader nature of the military operation, which contemplates the preemptive use of tactical nuclear weapons.

The war agenda is based on the Bush administration’s doctrine of “preemptive” nuclear war under the 2002  Nuclear Posture Review.

Media disinformation has been used extensively to conceal the devastating consequences of military action involving nuclear warheads against Iran. The fact that these surgical strikes would be carried out using both conventional and nuclear weapons is not an object of debate.

According to a 2003 Senate decision, the new generation of tactical nuclear weapons or “low yield” “mini-nukes”, with an explosive capacity of up to 6 times a Hiroshima bomb, are now considered “safe for civilians” because the explosion is underground.

 The following article published in January 2006 outlined the main features of this diabolical  military agenda. In recent developments, following the threats by Britain and Israel, we have reached a major turning point.

….

Space and Earth Attack Command Unit 

A preemptive nuclear attack [against Iran] using tactical nuclear weapons would be coordinated out of US Strategic Command Headquarters at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska, in liaison with US and coalition command units in the Persian Gulf, the Diego Garcia military base, Israel and Turkey.

Under its new mandate, USSTRATCOM has a responsibility for “overseeing a global strike plan” consisting of both conventional and nuclear weapons. In military jargon, it is slated to play the role of  “a global integrator charged with the missions of Space Operations; Information Operations; Integrated Missile Defense; Global Command & Control; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Global Strike; and Strategic Deterrence…. “

In January 2005, at the outset of the military build-up directed against Iran, USSTRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.”

To implement this mandate, a brand new command unit entitled  Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike, or JFCCSGS was created.

JFCCSGS has the mandate to oversee the launching of a nuclear attack in accordance with the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, approved by the US Congress in 2002. The NPR underscores the pre-emptive use of nuclear warheads not only against “rogue states” but also against China and Russia.

CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022 

JFCCSGS is in an advanced state of readiness to trigger nuclear attacks directed against Iran or North Korea.

The operational implementation of the Global Strike is called CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022. The latter is described as “an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,’ (Ibid).

CONPLAN 8022 is ‘the overall umbrella plan for sort of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.’

‘It’s specifically focused on these new types of threats — Iran, North Korea — proliferators and potentially terrorists too,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing that says that they can’t use CONPLAN 8022 in limited scenarios against Russian and Chinese targets.'(According to Hans Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project, quoted in Japanese economic News Wire, op cit)

The mission of JFCCSGS is to implement CONPLAN 8022, in other words to trigger a nuclear war with Iran.

The Commander in Chief, namely George W. Bush would instruct the Secretary of Defense, who would then instruct the Joint Chiefs of staff to activate CONPLAN 8022.

CONPLAN is distinct from other  military operations. it does not contemplate the deployment of ground troops.

CONPLAN 8022 is different from other war plans in that it posits a small-scale operation and no “boots on the ground.” The typical war plan encompasses an amalgam of forces — air, ground, sea — and takes into account the logistics and political dimensions needed to sustain those forces in protracted operations…. The global strike plan is offensive, triggered by the perception of an imminent threat and carried out by presidential order.) (William Arkin, Washington Post, May 2005).

Read Full Article…

U.S. Plotting Terrorism in Afghanistan to Blame Pakistan

by Sergei Balmasov
Pravda
October 1, 2011

The conflict between the U.S. and Pakistan continues to evolve. Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has provided a tough and undiplomatic answer to the senior US authorities, including her American counterpart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who accused Islamabad of “pandering to terrorists” from the “Taliban.” The head of Pakistan’s foreign ministry, in fact, accused the U.S. intelligence agencies of committing a series of terrorist attacks against U.S. facilities in Afghanistan to write it off to Pakistan.



Earlier, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen, at a hearing in the Senate criticized Islamabad, accusing it of supporting Pakistan’s “Haqqani” (ISI) that allegedly could have ordered the militants to attack the U.S. embassy in Kabul on September 13.

According to the senior military officer, “Haqqani” is “a direct continuation of the ISI.” In addition, Washington virtually accused Islamabad of committing other attacks as well. Among them is a recent attack on a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan where 77 soldiers were injured.

The U.S. Ambassador in Islamabad Cameron Munter said that Pakistan has become home to terrorists that the local authorities stay in contact with instead of fighting. Mullen openly accused Pakistan of exporting terrorism to Afghanistan and added other accusations of Islamabad to Mullen’s speech. He said that he had strong evidence that this group was behind the attack at the hotel “Intercontinental “in Kabul on June 28 and was responsible for a number of small but efficient operations.

However, the high-ranking Americans provided no conclusive evidence in support of their words. This did not stop them from basing more serious charges on these allegations at the official level. On September 23, the head of the U.S. State Department stated that the Pakistani authorities have allowed the Islamists to take control of the country, and as a result the situation there became deadly for the global security. 
According to Hillary Clinton, the Islamists continue to take control over an increasing number of territories. She considered this to be sufficient to call Pakistanis to take a tough stance against the irresponsible policies of their government. 
The Head of the Department of State reported that the attention of U.S. President Barack Obama in fighting “extremists” was not confined to Afghanistan, and that this struggle extended to the fight with the Islamists, Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan.  Despite a new wave of the financial crisis, Washington is ready to allocate billions of dollars to the cause.

Read Full Article…

The Militarization of Outer Space: The Pentagon’s “Space Warriors”

Air Force Raises the Stakes for a New Arms Race

Global Research

It’s not as if things aren’t bad enough right here on planet earth.space war

What with multiple wars and occupations, an accelerating economic meltdown, corporate malfeasance and environmental catastrophes such as the petroleum-fueled apocalypse in the Gulf of Mexico, I’d say we have a full plate already.

Now the Defense Department wants to up the stakes with new, destabilizing weapons systems that will transform low- and high-earth orbit into another “battlespace,” pouring billions into programs to achieve what Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) has long dreamed of: “space dominance.”

Indeed, Pentagon space warriors fully intend to field a robust anti-satellite (ASAT) capability that can disable, damage or destroy the satellites of other nations, all for “defensive” purposes, mind you.

Back in 2005, The New York Times reported that General Lance W. Lord, then commander of AFSPC, told an Air Force conference that “space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny. … Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future.”

Five years on, that “mission” is still a top priority for the Obama administration. While some might call it “net-centric warfare” on steroids, I’d choose another word: madness.

Air Force X-37B

On April 22, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) successfully launched its robot space shuttle, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Sitting atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket, the unmanned, reusable space plane roared into orbit after more than ten years of development by Boeing Corporation’s “Phantom Works” black projects shop.

The successful orbital insertion of the X-37B was the culmination of a decades’ long dream by the Department of Defense: to field a reusable spacecraft that combines an airplane’s agility with the means to travel at 5 miles per second in orbit.

From the Pentagon’s point of view, a craft such as the X-37B may be the harbinger of things to come: a johnny-on-the-spot weapons platform to take out the satellite assets of an enemy de jour, or as a launch vehicle that can deliver bombs, missiles or kinetic weapons anywhere on earth in less than two hours; what Air Force wags refer to as “operationally responsive space.”

Prior to launch, Air Force Deputy Undersecretary of Space Programs, Gary Payton, ridiculed speculation that the X-37B is the prototype for a new space-based weapons system. Payton told reporters, “I don’t know how this could be called a weaponization of space. Fundamentally, it’s just an updated version of the space shuttle kinds of activities in space.”

Needless to say, such denials should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

The highly-classified program has a checkered history. According to GlobalSecurity.org, the project is envisaged as a “reusable space architecture” that would provide “aircraft-like operability, flexibility, and responsiveness, supporting AF Space Command mission areas.”

While early examples such as the Dyna-Soar/X-20 program of the 1950s-1960s never panned out due to technological constraints, the Air Force never stopped trying. Programs such as the X-40 Space Maneuver Vehicle (SMV) and the X-41 Common Air Vehicle (CAV), a hypersonic craft intended to serve as a key component in developing the off-again, on-again “Prompt Global Strike” project, demonstrate continuing Air Force interest in “high frontier” weapons programs.

The X-40 project eventually merged with the Air Force’s X-37B program and the X-41 CAV program has been absorbed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2).

Last month, the first test of the Falcon (apparently) ended in failure when DARPA researchers claimed they had lost contact with the craft moments after take-off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Falcon was supposed to demonstrate the feasibility of launching a vehicle to the edge of space and then have it come “screaming back into the atmosphere, maneuvering at twenty times the speed of sound before landing north of the Kwajalein Atoll, 30 minutes later and 4100 nautical miles away,” according to Wired.

Did the HTV-2 mission fail? Since misdirection and disinformation have long been staples of Pentagon black world projects, most likely we’ll never know one way or the other.

Inevitably, even if these projects amount to no more than monumental failures, their intended target audience, China, Russia or any other nation viewed as a “rogue state” by the imperialist hyperpower, in all likelihood would be drawn in to an expensive, and deadly, contest to devise countermeasures.

In this light, Space.com reporter Jeremy Hsu wrote May 5, that ambiguities in devising militarized space technology “can make it tricky for nations to gauge the purpose or intentions behind new prototypes.” And such uncertainties are precisely the fodder that fuel an arms race.

According to GlobalSecurity.org’s John Pike, the U.S. military “could even be using the cloak of mystery to deliberately bamboozle and confuse rival militaries.” Pike told Space.com that “the X-37B and HTV-2 projects could represent the tip of a space weapons program hidden within the Pentagon’s secret ‘black budget,’ or they might be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.”

Pike said that current work “leaves plenty of room for misinterpretation or even outright deception, which could be a ploy to distract other nations with military space projects.”

“‘One of them could be a deception program and the other could be the spitting image of the real thing,’ Pike noted. He said that such misdirection could force other nations’ militaries to waste money chasing down dead ends.”

While Pike’s assertions sound plausible, given the Pentagon’s track record and an annual $50 billion black budget directed towards research on new weapons and surveillance systems, the X-37B, the Falcon HTV-2 or other systems on the drawing board would certainly be useful assets if the military chose to deploy them as offensive weapons.

A Space Bomber?

Less ambitious perhaps, but potentially more destabilizing than unproven hypersonic technology, the X-37B was originally designed by Boeing for NASA in 1999 as an emergency escape vehicle for the International Space Station.

The civilian agency once viewed the craft as a potential lifeboat that could rescue stranded astronauts from the ISS. However, with Russia’s Soyuz space capsule doing yeoman’s work for just such a contingency, NASA no longer saw the need for an expensive winged re-entry vehicle and dropped the program.

But, as with all things having to do with the Military-Industrial Complex’s insatiable appetite for new weapons, DARPA, the Pentagon’s “blue sky” geek shop, picked up the slack in 2004 when NASA headed towards the exit.

After further testing and design enhancements by DARPA, the project was handed off to the Air Force in 2006. The program is now run by the USAF’s secretive Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) and spokespeople there have been tight lipped, refusing to say how much the vehicle costs; a sure sign that funds for the robot shuttle come from the black side of the budget where new weapons systems spawn and metastasize.

A tip-off to the covert nature–and militaristic intentions–of the program, comes from the office running the show. According to an Air Force Fact Sheet, the RCO “responds to Combat Air Force and combatant command requirements” and “expedites development and fielding of select Department of Defense combat support and weapon systems by leveraging defense-wide technology development efforts and existing operational capabilities.”

According to investigative journalist Sharon Weinberger, the author of Imaginary Weapons and A Nuclear Family Vacation, her recent piece in Popular Mechanics, revealed that prior to the Pentagon assuming ownership of the X-37 project, “the spacecraft was regarded as just another experimental prototype.” Today however, Weinberger wrote, “Air Force officials are skittish to mention even the smallest details.”

When Air Force chief scientist Werner J.A. Dahm was asked by Weinberger “what he could say about the X-37B,” he replied, “‘Nothing very useful,’ before quickly changing the subject.”

In a 2006 piece in Air Force Print News (AFPN) however, we were informed that the X-37B will “will serve as a test platform for satellites and other space technologies. The vehicle allows satellite sensors, subsystems, components and associated technology to be transported into the environment where they will be used–space.”

With information scarce on what the OTV’s current mission is, the Air Force has said that after the first few flights (a second test in slated for 2011), “you get into the realm of using it as a reusable space test platform–putting space components into its experimental bay and taking them to space for testing,” RCO’s X-37B program manager Lt. Col. Kevin Walker told AFPN.

While the Air Force has denied that the X-37B is the vanguard for a space-based system to be deployed for spying or as an orbital weapons’ delivery platform, and while this may betechnically accurate in so far as the mini-shuttle is a prototype, the vagaries of the project raise intriguing questions.

This is borne out by an April 22 announcement by the 45th Space Wing Public Affairs office at Patrick Air Force base. Deputy Undersecretary Payton said “if these technologies on the vehicle prove to be as good as we estimate, it will make our access to space more responsive, perhaps cheaper, and push us in the vector toward being able to react to warfighter needs more quickly.”

This was seconded by Col. André Lovett, 45th Space Wing vice commander: “This launch helps ensure that our warfighters will be provided the capabilities they need in the future.”

Nothing ambiguous in these statements as to how the USAF views the future role for the system, nor do they bear a relationship to Payton’s earlier claim to reporters that the X-37B is “just an updated version of the space shuttle kinds of activities in space.”

Weinberger notes that “the most daring job of a space plane, and the one least discussed, is the role of a bomber.” According to Weinberger, the X-37B “could fly over targets within an hour of launch to release cone-shaped re-entry vehicles that would both protect and guide weapons through the atmosphere.” Equally destabilizing, a craft such as the X-37B “could carry 1000- or 2000-pound re-entry vehicles armed with precision munitions like bunker-busting penetrators or small-diameter bombs, or simply use the explosive impact of kinetic rods cratering at hypersonic speeds to destroy targets.”

Joan Johnson-Freese, a Professor of National Security Studies at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, told Space.com journalist Leonard David last month that “other countries” will likely view the X-37B “as another capability intended to assure the United States will be able to dominate access to and the use of space.”

William Scott, coauthor of the militaristic novel Counterspace: The Next Hours of World War III, told David that a reusable space plane “could deliver small satellites having specific, limited roles to bridge critical capabilities gaps.”

The former bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology told David that amongst the most vital characteristics for fielding a weapons’ platform such as the X-37B is surprise: “On the first orbit, a space plane could capture data, before the ‘target’ knew it was coming.” Since a space plane could be “launched into any orbit, at any inclination, providing prompt ‘eyes-on’ of virtually any area of the world,” unlike a satellite with known, predictable trajectories, it could also be used as a surveillance platform or even as a means to surreptitiously “kidnap” or disable an adversary’s satellite.

Seconding Weinberger’s assessment, Scott told Space.com that “ultimately, weapons could be delivered from a space plane in low Earth orbit.” As noted above, these could come in the form of “precision” munitions or insane hypervelocity rod bundles, so called “Rods from God,” tungsten projectiles lobbed from space at 36,000 feet per second that can “hit a cross-haired target on the ground.”

“I did a story about the rods concept in 1994 or 1995, based on concepts being discussed in the U.S. Air Force at the time,” Scott said. “Fifteen years later, maybe they’re ready for testing.”

This view is shared by Everett Dolman, a professor of Comparative Military Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies at the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

“Regardless of its original intent, Dolman told Space.com, “the most obvious and formidable is in service as a space fighter–a remotely piloted craft capable of disabling multiple satellites in orbit on a single mission and staying on orbit for months to engage newly orbited platforms.” A project such as the X-37B, more advanced systems still on the drawing-board or in development in any number of Air Force black sites such as Groom Lake (Area 51) “would be a tremendous tactical advantage,” Dolman said.

Even were the system not to be transformed into a space bomber, Dolman theorized that the X-37B could be maneuvered close to an adversary’s satellite and capture details in the form of signals intelligence. “With the anticipated increase in networked-microsatellites in the next few years, such a platform might be the best–and only–means of collecting technical intelligence in space.”

While the system may evolve into a destabilizing new weapon, Dolman said that “all of the information leaked about the X-37B suggests its primary function will be as a test platform, but a test platform for what?”

Regardless of how the X-37B prototype pans out, we can be certain that as the U.S. imperialist empire continues its long trek on the road towards failed statehood, the Pentagon, always eager to expend the blood and treasure of the American people on endless wars of conquest, will continue to build new and ever-more destabilizing weapons.