Republicans Wary of EU Space Conduct Code [The Washgton Times]

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The Washington Times obtained an unclassifed summary of the U.S. National Security Space Strategy the Obama administration is set to unveil Feb. 4. No major suprises — just plenty of talk about confidence-building measures and transparency peppered with the usual stuff about reserving the right to respond to aggression in space.

Here are the two passages quoted in the article:

  • “We will consider proposals and concepts for arms control measures if they are equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the national security of the United States and its allies. We believe setting pragmatic guidelines for safe activity in space can help avoid collisions and other debris-producing events, reduce radiofrequency interference, and promote security and stability in the space domain — all of which are in the interests of all nations.”
  • “The United States will retain the right and capabilities to respond in self-defense, should deterrence fail. We will use force in a manner that is consistent with longstanding principles of international law, treaties to which the United States is a party, and the inherent right of self defense.”

The Washington Times also got hold of a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from 37 Senate Repubicans expressing their concerns about the United States signing the European Union’s code of conduct for space activities.

      “’We are deeply concerned that the Administration may sign the United States on to a multilateral commitment with a multitude of potential highly damaging implications for sensitive military and intelligence programs (current, planned or otherwise), as well as a tremendous amount of commercial activity,’ the senators said in a letter to Mrs. Clinton.

      “The letter was signed by 37 Republican senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona.

      “Specifically, the lawmakers ask what impact the code of conduct would have on ‘the research and development, testing and deployment of a kinetic defensive system in outer space that is capable of defeating an anti-satellite weapon, such as the one tested by the People’s Republic of China in 2007.’


     “Proponents of the EU code of conduct praise the agreement as a way of minimizing space debris that can disable intelligence, military and commercial satellites. The code of conduct is also an alternative to a space arms control treaty supported by China and Russia that both the Obama and Bush administrations have opposed as being unverifiable and counter to the U.S. national interest.

      “The senators say in the letter that they are unaware of any efforts to brief members of Congress on the agreement. ‘If this draft code is truly in the national interest, there can be no legitimate reason for concealing its negotiation from the Senate,’ they wrote.”