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Moon Talk: Did Tito Secretly Hand Over Yugoslav Space Program To JFK?

An upcoming documentary lays out an intriguing new twist in the historical saga of the Cold War space race: Yugoslavia had secretly made major advances in space travel technology. Did Yugoslav leader Tito make a pact with President Kennedy that would chan

USSR stamp for the 90th Birth Anniversary of Josip Broz Tito in 1982.
USSR stamp for the 90th Birth Anniversary of Josip Broz Tito in 1982.

*NEWSBITES

The history of space exploration is full of conspiracy theories – and a new one is in the making about a country that didn't seem to have any association with space research: the former Yugoslavia.

The country's president for life, Josip Broz Tito, was the subject of much speculation during his lifetime. Many thought he was a spy for the Russians, others suspected he worked for the Americans. And it was under his leadership that in Bosnia, in 1957, construction began on Europe's largest underground airport.

The high-security facility called "Objekat 505" could even resist nuclear attack. It was said to have cost over $6 billion, which seemed a lot for a mere airport. Was Tito simply extravagant, or was there perhaps more to the site than met the eye?

"Houston We Have a Problem" is the title of a documentary film by Slovenia's Zige Virca, due to be released in early 2013, that gives conspiracy theorists new fodder.

According to Virca, a Croatian-born rocket engineer named Hermann Potocnik published a book in 1929 called The Problem of Space Travel: The Rocket Motor in which he develops concepts for building satellites and space stations. The association for space travel that Wernher von Braun belonged to drew up the space station concept in 1952 based on Potocnik's studies.

Stories made the rounds that there was a lot more useful information in Potocnik's lost diaries. The CIA had searched for them, but the Yugoslavian security services were faster – and thus was the country able to forge their own space program of which "Objekat 505" was part and parcel.

By 1961, Tito was thought to have the technology needed to fly to the moon. Because the U.S. under no circumstances wanted to lose the space race with the Soviet Union, Virca says that the Kennedy administration handed over major cash in development funds to Tito in exchange for the Yugoslav space program.

A year later, Kennedy announced that the U.S. would shortly be flying to the moon, and the Americans managed to get there before the Russians did. Meanwhile, Tito traded in his partisan's uniform for elegant tailoring, Yugoslavia's economy exploded... and the rest is history.

Read the full story in German by Filip Gaspar

Photo - Wikipedia

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Geopolitics

How Ukraine Keeps Getting The West To Flip On Arms Supplies

The open debate on weapon deliveries to Ukraine is highly unusual, but Kyiv has figured out how to use the public moral suasion — and patience — to repeatedly shift the question in its favor. But will it work now for fighter jets?

Photo of a sunset over the USS Nimitz with a man guiding fighter jets ready for takeoff

U.S fighter jets ready for takeoff on the USS Nimitz

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — In what other war have arms deliveries been negotiated so openly in the public sphere?

On Monday, a journalist asked Joe Biden if he plans on supplying F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. He answered “No”. A few hours later, the same question was asked to Emmanuel Macron, about French fighter jets. Macron did not rule it out.

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Visiting Paris on Tuesday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksïï Reznikov recalled that a year ago, the United States had refused him ground-air Stinger missiles deliveries. Eleven months later, Washington is delivering heavy tanks, in addition to everything else. The 'no' of yesterday is the green light of tomorrow: this is the lesson that the very pragmatic minister seemed to learn.

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