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A while ago, I asked about what happens to a nuclear engine that gets smashed into the Moon. While not conclusively answered, it's likely that the contaminated area is of significant size.

But what are the legal implications of doing this? Many international agreements deal with both the use of outer space, and also nuclear materials. The Moon treaty for instance says parties should take measures to prevent contamination of the environment, but it has a very weak international standing (18 parties, none of the US, Russia or China). Does some other piece of international law apply?

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Principle 9 of the UN's Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources In Outer Space says that whoever caused the debris field to happen must pay to clean up the mess.

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  • $\begingroup$ How would one even clean up a Lunar debris field? $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    Nov 6 '20 at 21:14
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    $\begingroup$ Let's hope we never have to try. $\endgroup$ Nov 7 '20 at 21:21

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