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Space without Weapons
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The world now relies on outer space for important security and development
purposes such as meteorology, environmental monitoring and disaster prevention,
communications, education, entertainment and treaty verification.
There are already a number of international treaties and instruments with jurisdiction
over space activities, but they do not adequately cover the challenges posed
by space-based weapons and missile defence. Though some prohibit or restrict
the deployment of weapons or use of force in outer space, the provisions are
limited in scope and coverage. None of the existing legal instruments unequivocally
prevents the testing, deployment and use of weapons other than nuclear, chemical
and biological, in outer space. Nor does any relevant legal instrument cover
the use of force or threat of use of force against a country's assets in outer
space. The placement of nuclear weapons in space is prohibited under the 1967
Outer Space Treaty, but nuclear-warheads on missile defence interceptors launched
from the ground into space are not prohibited.
Following the Bush administration's policies aimed at space domination and
control, the Obama administration is committed to support a ban in weapons in
space. The collision of two satellites in February 2009, creating an estimated
10,000 pieces of debris, highlighted the need for 'rules of the road' of some
form of code of conduct for space.
The Obama administration is currently reviewing its position on missile defence.
However, Obama has emphasised the need for any system to be "proven and
cost effective" - conditions widely interpreted as putting missile defence
at a lower priority than it was for the Bush administration. Obama faces decisions
concerning the future of agreements signed by the outgoing Bush administration
with the Czech Republic and Poland concerning siting of missile defence interceptors.
Missile defence also continues to exacerbate US-Russia relations with Russia
demanding that it is addressed as part of the current Strategic reduction talks.
In February Obama reportedly wrote to Russian President Medvedev suggesting
a deal with Russia on missile defence in exchange for Russia's support in resolving
the Iranian nuclear crisis, however, Russia denies any linkage between these
- Towards Space Security, Nuclear
Non-Proliferation News, Summer 2009
- Missile Defence faces cut backs, Nuclear
Non-Proliferation News, Summer 2009
- Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov
speech to the Carnegie Endowment, 7 May 2009
- Barack Obama, President of the United
States of America,
Speech at Hradcany Square, Prague, 5 April, 2009
- Taking aim at Missile Defence, Nuclear
Non-Proliferation News, February 2009
- Collision of US and Russian satellites prompts
concerns about space security, Nuclear Non-Proliferation News,
- US Vice President Joseph Biden, Munich
Security Conference speech, 7 February 2009
- Missile Defence and NATO-Russia relations,
Proliferation in Parliament, Winter 2008
- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on new
deployments to counter US missile defence, 5 November 2008
- Briefing on the Missile Defence Agreement
between the US and Poland, 25 August 2008
- Text of the Declaration on Strategic Cooperation
Between the United States of America and the Republic of Poland, 20 August
- US and Russian Public Opinion on Arms Control
and Space Security, Nancy Gallagher, Disarmament Diplomacy No.87,
- Space War, the Logical Next Mistake for US
Exceptionalism, Mike Moore, Disarmament Diplomacy No.87, Spring
- Draft Text on the Placement of Weapons
in Outer Space submitted by Russia and China, 13 February 2008
- Threat of Weaponisation, by Rebecca Johnson, CONGO
Forum on Civil Society and Outer Space: "Where do we stand on using outer
space for peaceful purposes?" Vienna, October 8-9, 2007
The following study, written by Rebecca Johnson on behalf of the Acronym Institute
and ISIS-Europe, with research assistance
from Stephen Pullinger and Aline Dewaele, was commissioned in 2006 by the European
Parliament Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union.
"The study analyses Europe's space programmes and argues for an effective European
Space Policy to manage the civil-military interface and national-regional interests
to enable Europe to benefit from a more effective coordination of technologies
and assets for the purpose of enhancing European and international security,
while preventing destabilising developments, such as the testing, deployment
or use of anti-satellite weapons or weapons in and from space.
Articles and Publications
- Safeguarding Space Security: missile defence and
the challenge for Europe, by Dr Rebecca Johnson, for the e-Parliament
Conference on Space Security, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC,
September 14, 2005.
- Notes of presentation at UNIDIR Seminar, by Dr
Rebecca Johnson, March 31, 2006
- Safeguarding Space: Building Cooperative Norms
to Dampen Negative Trends, by Theresa Hitchens, Disarmament Diplomacy,
Issue No.81, Winter 2005
- Books in Review: An International Law Perspective
on Common Security in Outer Space, by Detlev Wolter, Disarmament Diplomacy,
Issue No.81, Winter 2005
- PAROS discussions at the 2004 UN First Committee,
by Rebecca Johnson, October 20, 2004.
- A Model Code of Conduct for Space Assurance,
by Michael Krepon and Michael Heller, Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No.77,
- Ballistic Missile Defence and the Weaponisation
of Space, by Rebecca Johnson, September 2003
- Security without
weapons in space: challenges and options, Rebecca Johnson, UN Institute
for Disarmament Research, (Disarmament Forum, March 2003)
Defence and the Weaponisation of Space, Rebecca Johnson, ISIS Policy Paper
No. 11, January 2003.
- Stuck on the Launch Pad? The Ballistic Missile
Code of Conduct Opens for Business, by Mark Smith, December 2002 - January
- Anti-Satellite Capabilities of Planned US
Missile Defence Systems , by David Wright and Laura Grego, December 2002
- January 2003.
- US Space Policy: Time to Stop and Think,
by Theresa Hitchens, October - November 2002.
- Anniversary of Outer Space Treaty: Remarks
by Jayantha Dhanapala, October 14.
- Post 9/11: Missile threats and responses, by Rebecca
Johnson. Notes for Presentation at UN Department for Disarmament Affairs Seminar
Impact of 11 September 2001 on a Disarmament
Agenda in the 21st Century, October 3, 2002.
- How to move forward: NGO Approaches and Initiatives for
addressing Space Security, by Rebecca Johnson. This paper was published
in James Clay Moltz (ed), Future Security in Space: Commercial,
Military, and Arms Control Trade-Offs, Monterey Institute Center for Nonproliferation
Studies and Mountbatten Centre for International Studies, Occasional Paper
No. 10 (July 2002).
- Drawing the Line: the Path to Controlling
Weapons in Space, by Philip E. Coyle and John B. Rhinelander, September
- International Law and the Military Uses of
Space, by Ambassador Thomas Graham, March - April 2002
- Multilateral Approaches to Preventing the
Weaponisation of Space by Rebecca Johnson, Disarmament Diplomacy No.56,
- Space & National Security: US Policy
Initiative, May 2001
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