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Washington Objects to Draft Treaty on Space-Based Arms Washington Objects to Draft Treaty on Space-Based Arms

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Washington Objects to Draft Treaty on Space-Based Arms

Washington has objected to a draft treaty filed at the United Nations that would outlaw all space-based weapons, the Washington Free Beacon reports.

Russia and China last week submitted the treaty for consideration. The text is a modified version of a 2008 draft accord, the news website reported on Thursday.

 

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Frank Rose said the U.S. government opposed the draft pact on the grounds that its terms could not be verified and because it did not cover ground-based weapons that could be fired against space-based systems.

"There is no effective verification regime to monitor compliance, and terrestrially based antisatellite systems posing the greatest and most imminent threat to space systems are not captured," Rose said during a June 10 meeting of the international Conference on Disarmament.

China conducted antisatellite tests in 2007 and 2010 and may have carried out another assessment last year. The United States in 2008 used a missile interceptor to destroy one of its failed satellites. Russia also has suggested that it is developing antisatellite capabilities to match those demonstrated by the United States and China.

 

Antisatellite weapons have missile-defense applications because the same technology used to destroy a satellite could be used to target a launched ballistic missile. Additionally, the U.S. military has several satellites in orbit that provide data on missile threats around the world.

Instead of a legally binding treaty, the Obama administration supports a nonbinding "code of conduct," Rose said.

Mark Schneider, a former nuclear-strategy official at the Pentagon, told the Beacon that "all U.S. administrations have rejected space control because there are serious definitional problems, such as what is a space weapon."

The analyst said he also sees the China-Russia treaty as being aimed at constraining the United States and its allies' use of satellites as missile-defense sensors.

 

This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

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