Washington Objects to Draft Treaty on Space-Based Arms

Global Security Newswire Staff
Global Security Newswire Staff
June 19, 2014, 9:46 a.m.

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.

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