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Official UFO Study Programs in Foreign Countries

Condon Report, Chapter 3

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: This chapter from the Condon Report discusses official UFO programs in countries other than the United States.

Over the years since 1947, there have been many UFO reports originating in countries other than the United States. In fact, although America dates modern interest in the subject from the summer of 1947, there were 997 UFO reports that reached the Swedish government from private citizens in that country during 1946. Paralleling the developments in America, there has been some open official interest on the part of governments of other countries, as well as amateur organizations devoted to the study of UFOs, and popular books published in other countries and in other languages than English.

We made efforts to learn about the activities conducted officially on the UFO subject by other governments, strictly from the viewpoint of determining whether scientists in those countries had a program of UFO study from a scientific point of view or whether they were recommending to their governments that UFOs be studied for their scientific interest.

There is always the possibility that other governments are carrying on study programs that are classified. No effort was made to learn anything that was not freely and openly available.

Dr. Craig visited Dr. Peter M. Millman in Ottawa on 13 June l968. Dr. Millman's major responsibility is as Head of Upper Atmosphere Research of the National Research Council of Canada, but he also manages the study of UFOs in Canada. Until the spring of 1968, the study of UFO reports had been handled by the Department of National Defence in Canada; it was transferred then to the National Research Council. Very few field investigations are carried out; emphasis is mostly on the maintenance of a central file of the reports that reach the government from the public.

According to Dr. Millman, the Defence Research Board of the Department of National Defence in Canada formed a committee in April 1952,



giving it the name Project Second Storey. It reviewed the situation with respect to UFO reports to determine whether the government should undertake large-scale investigations of the reports. Dr. Millman, at that time with the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, was chairman of the committee, which held regular meetings over a period of a year. During this period, the Committee developed interview techniques and filing procedures for sighting reports. It recommended that the situation did not warrant a large-scale official investigation of unidentified aerial phenomena.

Project Second Storey became inactive after 1953. Sighting report files were maintained thereafter by the Department of National Defence. Particularly puzzling events were investigated when it appeared that data results of scientific value might be found. As of 1968, the file (called the Non-Meteoritic Sighting File) is maintained in the Upper Atmosphere Research Section of the Radio and Electrical Engineering Division of the National Research Council in Ottawa. The file is open to public inspection, but witness names are held in confidence, unless they have given permission for their release. In 1967 there were 57 reports and 37 in the first five months of 1968,

Dr. Millman has studied the files covering reports over a period of 20 years, concentrating his attention on the hard core of unexplained cases. He favors continuing compilation of reports on an international basis using uniform reporting forms in all countries.

Project Magnet, established in December 1950 was headed by Mr. Wilbert B. Smith of the Telecommunications Division of the Canadian Department of Transport who was officially authorized by the Deputy Minister of Transport for Air Services to make as detailed a study of the UFO phenomena as could be accomplished within the framework of existing Canadian establishments. The report issued by Mr. Smith did not represent the official opinion of the Department of Transport or the Second Storey Committee, and in this respect is not a part of the official study of UFOs in Canada.

The UFO problem is handled in England by a division of the Ministry of Defence in London. Colorado project coordinator, Robert Low met with its



director on a visit to London in August 1967. Sighting reports from the public are routed to the Ministry of Defence whose central switchboard operators direct them to this office. The Royal Air Force assigns one man to work with this office on UFO matters. In a letter to this project dated 9 June 1967, it was said "...our investigations of reported UPO sightings are of a limited nature and are conducted on a low priority basis. Moreover, the bulk of recent sightings have been established as either earth satellite vehicles, space debris in orbit or manifestations of meteorological or other natural phenomena."

Official responsibility in Sweden for handling UFO matters has been assigned to the Research Institute of National Defence, Avdelning 2, Stockholm 80. Dr. Tage 0. Eriksson is in charge of this activity. He was visited by Low during the summer of 1967, and the Colorado project has had additional correspondence with him.

Dr. Eriksson receives sighting reports and maintains a file of them. He has the responsibility of deciding whether a report warrants investigation. He told Low that almost all reports up to 1963 were investigated and were found to be caused by natural or man-made phenomena. Since then reports are not being routinely investigated.

Asked about published reports that the Swedish Air Force had investigated a case in which an UFO allegedly crashed in Spitzbergen in 1955, Dr. Eriksson replied: "I can assure you that this is not the case. Neither the Air Force nor the Research Institute of National Defence has at any time taken part in an investigation of a crashed UFO in Spitzbergen or elsewhere."

News stories appeared in the American newspapers in early December 1967 stating that the U. S. S. R. was establishing a governmental project to study UFOs (New York Times 10 December 1967).

According to these reports, the study was already under way under the direction of Prof. Feliks Zigel of the Moscow Aviation Institute and a retired Major General, Porfiry A. Stolyarov, of the Soviet Air Force.



Condon wrote to Zigel to explore the possibility of cooperation between the reported Soviet and Colorado projects. Condon's letter was transmitted to Prof. Zigel as an enclosure with a letter from Dr. Frederick Seitz, President of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences, to Academician M. V. Keldysh, President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences for subsequent transmittal to Zigel. The letter was mailed on 16 January 1968; as of 31 October 1968, no answer had been received. One attempt was made to stimulate a reply be discussing the matter with a Soviet member of the staff of the Outer Space Affairs Group at United Nations headquarters. He said he would write informally to a member of the Russian space research team to find out what is being done. Nothing further has been heard from this source. The U. N. official was of the opinion that no UFO study was being conducted in the Soviet Union.

Low met with Mr. U. Bogachev, First Secretary of the Information Department of the Soviet Embassy in Washington to express additional interest in cooperation in the study of UFOs and was courteously received; no further contacts were initiated in view of the lack of a reply from Zigel.

Pravda for 29 February 1968 carried an article on UFOs signed by E. Mustel, corresponding member of the A. N. U. S. S. R., D. Marynov, president of the All-Union Astronomical and Geodetic Society, and V. Leshkovtsev, Secretary of the National Committee of Soviet Physicists. The article emphasizes that study of American sightings in the past has provided natural explanations for most of them.

It concludes with these statements:

No one has in his possession any new facts that would substantiate the reality of ''flying saucers. They are not seen by astronomers who attentively study the skies day and night. They are not encountered by scientists who study the state and conditions of earth's atmosphere. They have not been observed by the Air Defense Service of the country. This therefore means that there are no grounds for reviving the nonsensical long-buried rumors about secret trips to our planet by Martians or Venusians...



Because of the high incidence of reports on "unidentified flying objects" on the pages of our press and in television broadcasts, the "flying saucer" question was discussed at the U. S. S. R. Academy of Sciences. The Bureau of the Department of General and Applied Physics of the Academy heard a report by Academician L. A. Artsimovich at a recent meeting about current UFO propaganda. It was characterized as "anti-scientific" and Artsimovich noted that "these fantasies do not have a scientific basis at all; the observed objects are of a well-known nature."

The project had no direct contact with the authorities in Denmark, but in response to an inquiry, Prof. Donald H. Menzel of Harvard received a letter dated 25 April 1968 from Captain K. G. Konradsen, writing for the Minister of Defense which says:

Some years ago, the public showed considerable interest in unidentified flying objects, and reports on sightings which were presented either to the police or to military authorities were at that time thoroughly examined by the Danish Defence Research Board. The findings were, most reports being incomplete, that further investigation generally was impossible. In those cases, in which it was possible to investigate and reconstruct the observations, they turned out to be sightings of aircraft or of atmospheric or astronomic phenomena. In several cases the reports were intentionally false.
Today, Danish civilian and military authorities do not consider unidentified flying objects of any special significance. No effort is made officially to inform the public of possible reported sightings. Of course, the newspapers from time to time bring news



of "mysterious" and "supernatural" occurrences in the air, but special circumstances are necessary to bring about an official investigation...

The cooperation of the Department of State was enlisted to seek information about UFO programs of the governments of other nations. On 11 April 1968 the following airgram was sent to various American embassies over the signature of Secretary of State Dean Rusk:

The University of Colorado, acting under contract to the U. S. Air Force, is desirous of being informed if host country Governments, or Universities, or other organizations acting as contractors thereto, have, or are conducting, any studies on UFOs. The University of Colorado is not interested in studies made by UFO hobby clubs or UFO buffs. If serious study has or is being given to this subject, the Department would appreciate being advised by May 15 if mission knows of the name of the agency conducting the work, and whether it could be described as a substantial or only a modest effort.
Replies informed us that in Australia the Director of Air Force Intelligence maintains sighting files and is responsible for investigations should they be deemed necessary. In New Zealand there is an informal arrangement between the Air Force Meteorological Service and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research to collect reports for six months and then decide on the next step.

In Greece a report file is maintained by the National Meteor Service of the Greek Ministry of National Defense.

Countries in which it is known that no governmental activity concerned with UFOs is being carried on are: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and Venezuela.



The project is indebted to Dr. Donald H. Menzel for much of the information presented in this chapter regarding official activity -- or in most cases, inactivity -- in foreign countries.

Since UFO reports are received from observers in all parts of the world, it has been suggested that UFO studies might be undertaken by the United Nations. Such suggestions have come from, among others, Prof. James E. McDonald of the University of Arizona, who has discussed the matter with the working staff of the U. N. Outer Space Affairs Group.

Subsequent reports in the press that the U. N. was taking up the matter of UFOs led to the issuance of a statement dated 29 June 1967 by C. V. Narashimhan, Chef de Cabinet. It follows:

It is not correct that the Secretary-General requested Dr. McDonald to come to New York City to confer with him. Dr. McDonald wrote to the Secretary-General requesting an interview and the Secretary-General agreed to see him on 7 June. Unfortunately, on that day the Secretary-General was preoccupied with meetings of the Security Council and Dr. McDonald only saw the Chief of the Outer Space Affairs Group and his colleagues. It is also not correct to say that the Secretary-General personally believes in the existence of UFOs. I hope this makes the position clear.
Replying to another inquiry on 5 July 1967, Marvin Robinson, scientific secretary of the Outer Space Affairs Group, declared that "the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has never discussed the subject of unidentified flying objects nor requested any study or report on this subject."

Since confusion about possible United Nations interest in the UFO question continued, Condon wrote on 6 March 1968 to Peter S. Thacher, counselor on Disarmament and Outer Space of the U. S. Mission to the U. N., and later visited him in New York. The confusion seems to have arisen from the fact that there are two different U. N. entities: the Committee



on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and a subsidiary body called the Outer Space Affairs Group. It was the latter body with which McDonald met. In a letter dated 18 March 1968, Thacher writes:

As to Dr. James McDonald's presentation, it is completely correct that he did not make any presentation at any time to the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. The committee consists of 28 representatives of states members of the General Assembly and is the outgrowth of a committee which was originally created in 1959. Having been thoroughly involved in the work of the committee since its origin, I can assure you that at no time has any representative on the committee suggested serious consideration of UFOs, nor to my knowledge has there been any corridor suggestion along these lines of the sort that might take place before any formal proposals were made...
From informal conversation with members of the Outer Space Affairs Group I understand that Professor McDonald sought to convey a statement on the subject of UFOs to the Secretary-General and was referred to this group... The letter from Professor McDonald was not given any circulation and would not have come to any attention outside of the secretariat if it had not been through your letter and my subsequent inquiry. Therefore, Professor McDonald can correctly say that he has submitted a statement to the Outer Space Affairs Group, but this action is of itself not very meaningful...

Thus, from the available evidence it would appear that there is no active official interest in UFOs in the United Nations.


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