In his op-ed published on April 7 [“U.S. Should Take a Cold, Hard Look at Space Code of Conduct,” Commentary, page 19], Michael Listner listed advocates of the International Code of Conduct for Space Activities currently under negotiation by the United States and several other countries as “including diplomats and nongovernmental organizations in the arms control community.” He did not mention the most important and influential advocate of the code: the United States military. 

The Pentagon conducted an intensive review of the potential impact of the proposed European code of conduct on U.S. national security, which is why the Obama administration refused to sign it. Subsequently, these national security concerns were part of the U.S. input to the draft of the new international code of conduct, and the Pentagon remains actively involved in the current negotiations to ensure such negative impacts do not re-emerge. Since 2012, the Pentagon has been the single biggest proponent of the code within the U.S. government. 

The fundamental purpose of the code — developing and promoting responsible norms of behavior in space — is the foundation of the Pentagon’s multilayered strategy for dealing with a more congested, competitive and contested space environment as recently laid out by Doug Loverro, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, in testimony before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in March.

Victoria Samson and Brian Weeden


The writers are Washington office director and technical adviser, respectively, for the Secure World Foundation.