A scientist who allegedly tried to sell classified secrets to Israel had worked on the U.S. government's Star Wars missile shield program, and the Justice Department declared Tuesday that he had tried to share some of the nation's most guarded secrets. Arrested in an FBI sting operation, Stewart David Nozette was jailed without bond and accused in a criminal complaint of two counts of attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information.
A former colleague of Nozette says the scientist worked on the Reagan administration's Star Wars missile shield program. In an interview, Scott Hubbard said that a scientist arrested in an FBI sting, Stewart David Nozette, was primarily a technical defense expert working on the Reagan-era effort formally named the Strategic Defense Initiative.
"This was leading edge, Department of Defense national security work," said Hubbard, a professor of aerospace at Stanford University who worked for 20 years at NASA. Hubbard said Nozette worked on the Star Wars project at the Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
At Energy, Nozette held a special security clearance equivalent to the Defense Department's top secret and "critical nuclear weapon design information" clearances. DOE clearances apply to access to information specifically relating to atomic or nuclear-related materials.
Nozette more recently developed the Clementine bi-static radar experiment that is credited with discovering water on the south pole of the moon. A leader in recent lunar exploration work, Nozette was arrested Monday and charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information, the Justice Department said.
Hubbard said that the Clementine project Nozette worked on in the 1990s was essentially a non-military application of Star Wars technology. Nozette also worked for the White House's National Space Council in 1989 and 1990.