EIR Daily Alert Service

MONDAY, AUGUST 7, 2017

Volume 4, Number 155

EIR Daily Alert Service

P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390

EDITORIAL

War Fever Mounts—‘Russia Is First, China Is Next’

Aug. 6 (EIRNS)—John Pilger, a fierce critic of the Anglo-American war party, issued a stern warning Saturday of an onrushing nuclear war. “A coup against the man in the White House is under way,” he wrote on Truthdig. “This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia…. They have encircled Russia and China with missiles and a nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to install an unstable, aggressive regime on Russia’s borderland—the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the deaths of 27 million people…. Russia is first, China is next.”

This follows the similar stern warning from Oliver Stone on Friday, who pointed to the insanity demonstrated by the nearly unanimous Congressional vote imposing sanctions on Russia (which Trump has declared to be unconstitutional, adding that he would not implement such unconstitutional laws). Stone concluded: “I now fully realize how World War I started.”

Both these men are sounding a necessary alarm, but missing the necessary solution, as enunciated by Lyndon LaRouche on July 31: “The American people must demand that the ongoing treasonous British coup against the U.S. Presidency and the nation itself must be stopped and its perpetrators prosecuted and imprisoned. The British system must be cancelled, and the President must make every effort to save the people of this country and the rest of humanity from further British-directed deprivations against their lives. Cancel the British; save the people.”

The British-instigated Cold War, set in motion immediately after the death of their American nemesis Franklin Roosevelt, is now back in place, but in a world in which any war will be thermonuclear in nature, and result in the end of civilization as we know it, or perhaps human extinction. Roosevelt, in addition to telling Winston Churchill to his face that the U.S. was not fighting the war to save the British Empire, also formed a partnership with Russia and China—precisely those nations which he knew were necessary and sufficient to defeat the British Empire and the Nazi scourge it had produced. His untimely death, and the subsequent Presidency of British puppet Harry Truman, precipitated America’s slaughter of tens of thousands of innocents by nuclear incineration, (exactly 72 years ago today in Hiroshima), while also helping the colonialist powers back into their former colonies, forcing generations of anti-colonial wars and more hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

What we face today is far worse.

And yet, the solutions are not only known—they have been promoted by LaRouche for these past 50 years—, but they are now also in hand, being implemented under the leadership of China and Russia across Eurasia, Africa and Ibero-America, in the form of the Belt and Road Initiative—the New Silk Road initiated by Lyndon and Helga LaRouche after the collapse of the Soviet Union, as a means for peace through development and the end of warfare as a means of imperial power.

Trump is standing his ground. He correctly blamed the corrupt Congress for the deteriorating relations between the world’s two leading nuclear powers, and announced that he is sending an envoy to meet with the Russians regarding the festering crisis in Ukraine. Secretary Rex Tillerson met today for over an hour with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the ASEAN meeting in Manila, while the progress in Syria is demonstrating to the world how terrorism can be defeated through close U.S.-Russian cooperation.

Meanwhile, China is demonstrating how development can transform the areas of the world looted and otherwise ignored by the Western powers for hundreds of years. Just over the weekend they have contracted to build a huge hydropower plant in Angola as part of their transformation of African infrastructure, and announced a multibillion-dollar investment into Haiti, including power, rail, housing, markets and more, creating 20,000 jobs by the end of this year. How pathetic this makes Obama’s expressions of sympathy for the victims of the earthquake which destroyed that nation in 2010, while barely lifting a finger to rebuild anything, let alone transform it into a modern nation!

The ten Southeast Asian nations and China today agreed on a framework for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, marking another step towards peace and cooperation in that region of the world, now that Obama’s meddling in the Philippines has been ended with the election of Rodrigo Duterte, who is hosting the ASEAN meetings in Manila. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised the progress in the region, which will continue to move forward, he said, towards a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” as long as “there is no major disruption from outside parties,” making the obvious reference to the Obama years.

While the danger of war has reached a critical point, such danger also holds tremendous potential for the “new paradigm” to sweep across Europe and the U.S. The Europeans are furious at the secondary sanctions against their economies under the Russia sanction bill, and many leading voices are now calling for a restoration of relations with Russia and a rejection of the dictates issued by the U.S. Congress. In the U.S., while Trump and Tillerson stand up for sanity in regard to Russia and China, industrial and agricultural delegations from several states are visiting China, looking to Chinese trade and infrastructure investments to help lift the country out of its malaise.

As LaRouche has insisted, America must join the New Silk Road. Now is the time.

U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC

President Trump Slams Coup Plotters in West Virginia Rally

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—Speaking at a rally at an arena in Huntington, West Virginia, yesterday, President Trump slammed the coup plotters against him. He told more than 9,000 supporters, many of whom came from out of state, “They’re trying to cheat you out of the leadership that you want with a fake story. Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign; there never were. We didn’t win because of Russia. We won because of you. We won because we totally outworked the other side. We won because millions of patriotic Americans voted to take back their country.

“Have you seen any Russians in West Virginia or Ohio or Pennsylvania? Are there any Russians here tonight, any Russians? They can’t beat us at the voting booths so they’re trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want. They’re trying to cheat you out of the leadership that you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us and most importantly demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution. I just hope the final determination is a truly honest one which is what the millions of people who gave us our big win in November deserve and what all Americans who want a better future want and deserve.

“Democrat lawmakers will have to decide. They can continue their obsession with the Russian hoax or they can serve the interests of the American people. Try winning at the voter booth. Not going to be easy, but that’s the way you’re supposed to do it.”

Trump Hits Fake Statistics Covering Up Real Unemployment

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—In his Aug. 3 rally in Huntington, West Virginia, President Trump also addressed the fact that the unemployment figures leave out millions of people who have given up looking for jobs, and that millions of working people are not benefitting from the stock market bubble. He said he was glad the market was up and unemployment rates are down, but, he said: “I will never forget the millions and millions of people out there that want jobs, that don’t register on the unemployment rolls because they gave up looking for jobs. So I accept the [record economic] number, but we all know that there are millions of people out there we love—the forgotten men and women—and they’re looking for jobs.”

He also addressed the opioid epidemic. Huntington is one of the most devastated communities in the country hit by the crisis, with nearly one out of ten of its citizens addicted to opioids.

Oliver Stone Posts, ‘Now I Know How World War I Started’

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—Oliver Stone posted a powerful statement on his Facebook page on Aug. 4 on the extreme war danger and citing the VIPS Memo to the President demonstrating that the Russian “hack” was fake. Here is an abridged version of his post:

“Congress passed its beloved Russia sanctions last week by a vote of 419-3! The Senate followed with a vote of 98-2!!… Can we not even accept the possibility that perhaps our intelligence agencies are not doing their job, and maybe, just maybe, are deliberately misleading us to continue their false-flag war against Russia? Or for that matter, that Russia itself may not be that invested in screwing up our vaunted democracy with such sloppy malware as claimed? Especially in view of the strong statement put out by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of reform-minded veterans throwing a dose of acid on the infamous Brennan-Clapper Report of January 6, 2017. With this report alone (see below), much less the overt lying and leaking that’s been going on, both James Clapper (We don’t do surveillance on our own citizens) and John Brennan (Drones and torture? None of our business) should be investigated as thoroughly as Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son, etc….

“Are the Washington Post and the New York Times so powerful that no one bothers to read or think beyond them? It seems the TV stations in this country take their copy from them.

“I accept the U.S. decline. That’s a given—after all, compare our broken-down New York subway system with Moscow’s, as well as many other cities’ pristine and impeccable services. These sanctions, which I pray Europe can independently judge and discard, are as dumb as giving out medals to Generals who keep losing wars. I still have this image burned in my brain of Petraeus with his 11/12(?) rows of ribbons, many looking like Boy Scout badges, surrounded by adoring Congressmen as he lied his way through his foreign policy testimony.

“Never mind that any moment now a Dr. Strangelove-type incident can occur—with less reaction time, say 15 minutes, compared to the 1960s 2/3 hours. We are truly at the edge as Mr. P (Putin) pointed out in the documentary I made. Such Roman arrogance, such blindness, calls out for another Vietnam, another Iraq….

“Read the report below from Sanity Inc. and pray another August (1914) passes without the war, Congress, Media, and the Military-Industrial Complex are literally dying for. I now fully realize how World War I started. People in power never really thought it would happen, and when it did, thought it’d be over in weeks. You should know the rest of that history. It doesn’t end well.

“ ‘Intel Vets Challenge Russia Hack Evidence,’ Consortiumnewshttp://bit.ly/2uRJuct

Pilger’s Warning: Sanctions on Russia Prepares for Nuclear War, ‘If We Allow It’

Aug. 6 (EIRNS)—Australian journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger’s warning of “The Beckoning of Nuclear War with Russia,” published by Truthdig yesterday, is stark, properly nasty, and a call to arms. We quote it, therefore, at some length.

“I read On the Beach for the first time the other day, finishing it as the U.S. Congress passed a law to wage economic war on Russia, the world’s second most lethal nuclear power. There was no justification for this insane vote, except the promise of plunder….

“Their main aim seems to be war—real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it….

“A lobotomy is performed on each generation. Facts are removed. History is excised and replaced by what Time magazine calls ‘an eternal present.’

“Those who call themselves liberals or tendentiously ‘the left’ are eager participants in this manipulation, and its brainwashing, which today revert to one name: Trump….

“A coup against the man in the White House is under way. This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia.

“This glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to the national security managers who guard a system based on war, surveillance, armaments, threats and extreme capitalism. Martin Luther King called them ‘the greatest purveyors of violence in the world today.’

“They have encircled Russia and China with missiles and a nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to install an unstable, aggressive regime on Russia’s borderland – the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the deaths of 27 million people. Their goal is to dismember the modern Russian Federation….

“The threat is simultaneous. Russia is first, China is next. The U.S. has just completed a huge military exercise with Australia known as Talisman Sabre. They rehearsed a blockade of the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, through which pass China’s economic lifelines….

“The bill was bipartisan. There is no fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. The terms left and right are meaningless. Most of America’s modern wars were started not by conservatives, but by liberal Democrats.

“When Obama left office, he presided over a record seven wars, including America’s longest war and an unprecedented campaign of extrajudicial killings—murder—by drones.

“In his last year, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study, Obama, the reluctant liberal warrior, dropped 26,171 bombs – three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.  Having pledged to help ‘rid the world’ of nuclear weapons, the Nobel Peace Laureate built more nuclear warheads than any president since the Cold War….

“One of Obama’s last acts as President was to sign a bill that handed a record $618 billion to the Pentagon…. Buried in the detail was the establishment of a Center for Information Analysis and Response. This is a ministry of truth. It is tasked with providing an official narrative of facts that will prepare us for the real possibility of nuclear war—if we allow it.”

Wall Street Journal Hysterical over Trump’s Lack of Enthusiasm for Expanding Afghanistan War

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—According to numerous news reports over the recent period, President Trump is so frustrated with the options that military leaders have presented to him for Afghanistan, that he’s even considering withdrawing the U.S. military from the country. These frustrations reportedly boiled over during a July 19 meeting at the White House during which defense and military officials provided him with options for a strategy. According to reporting by NBC News and corroborated by other news outlets, Trump questioned why, after 16 years, we’re still in Afghanistan.

The Wall Street Journal, in its lead editorial today, fulminates over the possibility that Trump may be considering options other than giving the military commanders what they want—that is, 3,000 to 5,000 more troops and a more aggressive air campaign. The problem, the Journal asserts, is that Trump “indulges his isolationist instincts fanned by aide Stephen Bannon.” Therefore, says the editorial, he risks repeating President Obama’s “catastrophic 2011 withdrawal from Iraq.” This is a fallacy, of course, because all Obama did was to execute a decision that had already been made, jointly, by his predecessor George W. Bush and the government of Iraq.

Krauthammer Points to Trump’s ‘Formidable Army’ of Supporters, in West Virginia Rally, Warns of Coup

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—Speaking on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson show last night, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer remarked that President Trump’s rally in Huntington, West Virginia, yesterday, shows that even with his low poll numbers, he pulled off a “very important demonstration,” and that he has a “formidable army” of supporters.

“Here’s a guy whose numbers are down in the 30s,” Krauthammer observed. “He’s got…reports of a grand jury being convened; he’s got the walls kind of closing in on him in Washington. And here he’s going out into the country and saying ‘These are my people. These are real people. Forget about the numbers. Forget about the chatter in Washington. Forget about the stories about Russia…but I represent a huge constituency of tremendous support and enthusiasm.”

Even without being specific on policy, Krauthammer said, Trump told his audience, “I’m bringing you guys back. I’m the only one who listened. You were abandoned.” Krauthammer continued, “that’s his appeal. That’s how he won the election and he’s reminding the elites that that appeal is still there.”

Krauthammer, who is not a Trump supporter, effectively warned of the constitutional coup against Trump: “I think we’re really headed into very choppy and dangerous constitutional waters.” The Democrats hope they can impeach Trump, if they gain control of the House. Explaining that he doesn’t think Trump is well fit for the Presidency, Krauthammer nonetheless pointed out that “fitness is not a reason for impeachment and removal. High crimes are. Here we have a prosecutor looking for high crimes. With Watergate you started with a crime and then you try to find out how it happened. Here, they’re looking for a crime…. Collusion is unseemly, but it ain’t a crime.”

The political establishment wants to see Trump taken out of office, Krauthammer continued. “I think that would be a catastrophic mistake. It would cause a rupture in the country where people would say, ‘When we people, the ones who’ve been abandoned, elect somebody we like, our guy gets taken out? I thought we had a stable democracy.’ ”

STRATEGIC WAR DANGER

London Springs Its Venezuela Trap

August 6 (EIRNS)—Oil-rich Venezuela is today devolving into chaos, economic disintegration, and looming civil war which can quickly spread across South American. The government of Nicolás Maduro just held a snap election for a Constituent Assembly to try to maintain political control by force, a blatantly unconstitutional step boycotted by a neo-con right-wing opposition, which is urging a U.S. military intervention to oust Maduro and put them in power instead. Any such U.S. intervention for regime change, as is currently under discussion in Washington—whether by sanctions on Venezuela’s oil exports, “international humanitarian intervention” under hypocritical Responsibility to Protect guise, or by direct military means—will notbring needed stability and reconstruction to Venezuela, but will blow up the Western Hemisphere as a whole.

In July 1999, EIR uniquely identified the then-new Presidency of Hugo Chávez as a British-created Jacobin project, designed to protect the very system of usury which it claimed to oppose. Chávez briefly broke from that assigned mission when he financially helped Argentina when it stood up against the banks, but he never wavered from support for London’s drug trade and its FARC narco-terrorists in neighboring Colombia. Chávez repeatedly used Constituent Assemblies and armed mobs as battering rams to impose a Jacobin state, citing, by name, Carl Schmitt, the leading jurist of Hitler’s Nazi regime, in defense of that strategy. Chávez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolás Maduro is now doing the same.

But the leadership of the Venezuelan opposition is also run out of London’s back pocket by U.S. neo-con circles, and are champions of the free rein of usury. They and their international sponsors promoted regime-change not only in Venezuela, but also in Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina (under the Kirchner presidencies).

This lose-lose British trap can be sprung only by reverting to fundamental principles of law:

1) No regime change should be imposed on Venezuela. Violation of national sovereignty will produce results such as those seen in the Middle East—right on the U.S. doorstep. Instead, a framework must be provided to help Venezuelans find a path out of the British trap, including:

2) Real economic development. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is now spreading into the Americas, offers concrete prospects for high-speed rail, food, energy, and other infrastructure projects.

3) Regional cooperation around such projects, including rail routes linking South America through the Darién Gap into Central America and beyond. As part of such cooperation, there must be zero tolerance for the FARC cocaine, whether coming from Caracas, London, or Washington.

COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM

More Denunciations of U.S. Sanctions by European Business Associations

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—Two European business groups denounced the new anti-Russian sanctions passed by Congress. A director of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) issued a statement denouncing the new sanctions.

“There is an impression that the American side places emphasis on its own economic interests. In this respect, the European Commission’s decision to think about possible retaliatory measures comes as a logical reaction to extraterritorial sanctions, questionable from the point of view of the international law,” said Volker Treier, Deputy Chief Executive and Managing Director of International Economic Affairs at the DIHK. “This would have a painful impact on the German economy in general,” he said, reported TASS.

The Association of European Businesses also issued a statement, saying it “expresses its disagreement over U.S. economic sanctions. The Association calls on the heads of states and governments of the EU, the U.S.A., and Russia to define a new policy, leaving business out of politics and finding a common, mutually acceptable, solution in the spirit of peace and conciliation. The Association is convinced that business is one of the most important connecting links between states and people, and the principle of free trade should not be restricted by such measures.”

China Begins Construction on World’s Second-Largest Hydroelectric Dam

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—A ceremony was held Aug. 3 at the launching of construction on what will be the world’s second-largest hydroelectric dam project. The Baihetan Hydropower project, on the Jinsha River in the upper section of the Yangtze River, on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, has a planned capacity of 16 gigawatts. The project is directed by the Three Gorges Corporation. The company’s statement says, according to Global Times: “Following the construction of Xiluodu, the world’s third-largest hydropower station, and Xiangjiaba, China’s third-largest hydropower station, the construction of Baihetan marks another milestone in China’s energy development.” The station could generate an average of 62.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is equal to two-thirds of Beijing’s electricity consumption in 2015, Global Times reports.

“It could help reduce consumption of coal by 19.68 million tons as well as emissions of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide,” the company stated.

THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER

Several U.S. States Sending Industry and Agriculture Delegations to China

Aug. 5 (EIRNS)—Today in Chengdu, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Sichuan Gov. Yin Li, and other officials, celebrated the 35th year of the Michigan-Sichuan sister state relationship. This is the fourth day of Snyder’s trip in China, on a mission to seek investment in Michigan, and trade and mutual development of all kinds. He pumped his state at a special forum, and at a briefing to reporters, said, “Michigan’s natural beauty is matched by a manufacturing base that is recognized across the globe for technology leadership and a skilled workforce unmatched anywhere in North America.” Needless to add, many of them are unemployed.

On Aug. 3, Snyder was in the city of Shenzhen, meeting with company executives dealing with self-drive vehicle technologies. He will make more stops this weekend. This is Snyder’s seventh trip.

In California this week, the Oakland Port Authority issued a statement extolling the new cargo expected to flow through its facilities, thanks to the increased exports of U.S. rice now approved for China.

In Arkansas, the project is underway for a Chinese-owned factory in Little Rock, to produce 800,000 T-shirts a day, by robots—the Sewbot Workline automated system, developed in Atlanta, Georgia. The company is Tianyuan Garments Co. of Suzhou, the largest producer of apparel for Adidas worldwide.

In Iowa, the 35-person “All-Iowa Trade Mission” returned from a 10-day visit to China, from which all groups, including beef, pork, chicken, turkey, egg, dairy, soy, and corn, expressed optimism for still more increased trade and investment.

China Brings Electricity, Housing, Infrastructure, Silk Road Projects to Haiti

Aug. 5 (EIRNS)—The Haitian Press Agency (AHP) has announced that China is committed to an infrastructure-building program in the billions of dollars, focussed on Port-au-Prince, and starting very soon, according to Huffington Post Aug. 4. Mayor Youri Chevry gave details this week, including that there will be new housing, a railway from Port-au-Prince to the countryside, market facilities, and a new City Hall. A priority will be the construction of a 600 MW electricity plant to supply the city.

A delegation from China spend eight days in Haiti, ending Aug. 2. Haiti Libre reports that there will be continuing work on the timetable for these projects.

The principal agencies involved are the Southwest Municipal Engineering and Design Research Institute of China, and Bati Ayiti (Build Haiti), based in Haiti. Staff are already being recruited; the projects are expected to have 20,000 workers on the job as of December this year.

This initiative comes from the May Belt and Road summit in Beijing, Huffington Post reports, where President Xi Jinping offered infrastructure projects to more than 100 countries, in the spirit of the new Silk Road.

Leaders in Haiti are making the obvious comment of how conspicuously this Silk Road infrastructure-building approach differs from the Clinton Foundation dallying, and the Bush/Clinton Committee pretense of aid after the 2010 earthquake, during the Obama years.

ASEAN and China Bringing Peace and Development to Southeast Asia, Including the South China Sea

Aug. 6 (EIRNS)—On the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the foreign ministers of the ten members of Asian and other countries in the Asia Pacific region are meeting starting today in the Philippines, this year’s Chairman of ASEAN.

Most important was the agreement between ASEAN and China to adopt the draft framework for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the situation in the South China Sea had “stabilized remarkably” in the past year, and that the passing of the framework today will be followed by consultations in August, and the launching of discussions on a final COC at the November ASEAN Summit of the heads of state, with the proviso: “if there is no major disruption from outside parties,” a clear reference to earlier disruptions from the Obama administration. The role of the new government in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte, who rejected Obama’s war-mongering and has joined China’s Belt and Road process, has created general unity in ASEAN regarding China. Vietnam has called for a reference to China’s island building in the communiqué, but acceptable wording has apparently been agreed upon.

Carl Thayer of Australia, a leading expert on Southeast Asia on behalf of the British Empire, denounced the COC framework agreement because it is non-legally binding, saying “A non-binding COC would be a disaster of the first order. China would keep pushing and ASEAN claimant states would be left with no option but to capitulate.” Of course, the nations of the regions are not capitulating, but joyfully joining the New Silk Road now that the Obama puppet-regime in Manila has been replaced by a nationalist.

SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE

If You Want To Run Your Air Conditioner, Go Nuclear

Aug. 5 (EIRNS)—The government-owned Bonneville Power Administration has asked Energy Northwest, the utility that owns the Columbia Generation Station nuclear plant, to operate under a “no touch rule,” through the duration of the heat wave that has pushed temperatures in the Northwest into the triple digits. The 1,207 MW nuclear plant powers about 700,000 homes, and its steady, dependable output is needed to deliver the electricity, and also to stabilize the grid. The “no touch rule” means plant operators will not perform any but critical maintenance, to not jeopardize the plant from operating at 100%.

Wind turbines may not turn when the wind slows, as in this current heat wave weather pattern, the Tri-City Herald explains, and due to drought, hydroelectric generation cannot be counted upon. Workers at the plant will continue to carry out preventive maintenance around the clock, to make sure the plant keeps operating.

BWXT Nuclear Energy, Inc. Gets NASA Nuclear Propulsion Contract

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—Under the rubric of its Mission to Mars program, NASA has awarded BWXT Nuclear Energy, an $18.8 million contract to do some initial conceptual design work for a nuclear thermal reactor for space propulsion, BWXT and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center announced yesterday.

“This is an opportune time to pivot our capabilities into the space market, where we see long-term growth opportunities in nuclear propulsion and nuclear surface power,” was the forward-looking statement by Rex Geveden, president of BWX Technologies. The contract will begin immediately, and continues through 2019, the company said, subject to Congressional funding.

Included in the contract are the design and testing of new fuel-element technology and materials, resolving nuclear licensing and regulatory requirements, and aiding NASA in “refining the feasibility and affordability of developing a nuclear thermal propulsion engine,” says NASA.

The work on the contract begins immediately, and the company will determine the feasibility of using low-enriched uranium fuel (being pushed for nonproliferation purposes) by September. They will then spend a year testing the manufacture of the fuel rods at NASA’s Marshall Center.

NASA explains that a nuclear thermal reactor engine can perform at twice the capability as the Space Shuttle’s main engines, operating at both higher thrust and higher specific impulse (efficiency) than chemical rocket engines, because it could “accelerate a large amount of propellant out of the back of a rocket at very high speeds.” A mission to Mars, it proposes, could see trip times reduced by two months, from about half a year. It is being proposed to be used in a cargo vehicle.

NASA’s nuclear rocket program has had a number of starts and stops over the past 50 years. In his “Apollo speech” before Congress on May 25, 1961, President Kennedy called for the acceleration of the nuclear rocket program, which had begun in 1955, for the Mars program that was to follow Apollo. That effort was ended in 1972, when President Nixon cancelled the Mars program. A version was resurrected under President George W. Bush, Project Prometheus, but was a low-thrust nuclear electric design, never adequately funded, and subsequently cancelled.

Engineers at NASA have continued a low-level space nuclear program even when there was no assigned program. Advanced nuclear propulsion, for lunar missions and for cargo to Mars, would be a bridge to the fusion technology needed for the manned Mars missions.

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