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Sources in the arms-control community inform me that, as part of its National Security Space Strategy released a couple months ago, the White House plans to sign an executive order soon that will compel both the U.S. military and commercial space industry to comply with the European Union “ Code of Conduct” for space activities.
The proposed code is partly a response to the Chinese test of an anti-satellite weapon in early 2007, which created a huge mess in low earth orbit. Such concern was further heightened by the accidental collision between an Iridium communications satellite and a derelict Russian satellite a little over two years ago.
drafted in 2008, with a revision last September, the code seems innocuous enough at first reading, basically forbidding the destruction of satellites and generating debris in low earth orbit. Among other things, it is an attempt by space arms controllers to accomplish what they have never been able to get by formal treaty — a limit on space weaponry. An actual anti-satellite ban has been criticized as unworkable and unverifiable, so instead, they drafted up “rules of the road,” a series of best practices for operating in space.
Historically the U.S., and particularly the Department of Defense, has opposed any treaty banning space weapons, for two reasons. First, there is no current perceived threat of in-space weapons or space-to-ground weapons and hence, no need for such a treaty. Second, co-orbital, direct-launch, or directed-energy anti-satellite technology is so inherently dual-use that it would be unenforceable. For instance, as we saw with the collision in 2009, any satellite can be a weapon, if put on a collision course with another. And as always, such a treaty would have asymmetrical effects, restraining the US while allowing cheating by others. There is also concern that it could establish a precedent for expansion of the principles into other media (e.g., air power).
The White House knows that this will not be forthcoming, because thirty-seven senators, led by John Kyl (R-AZ) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Clinton in February, expressing their own concerns, one of which was the degree to which it would preclude space-based missile defense. Baker Spring at the Heritage Foundation notes that for the White House to sign on to this code without Senate consent would be a violation of the law, and raised other concerns:
Originally posted by thoughtsfull
reply to post by anon72
I feel sad to say this but:
This feels like it is yet another step in the process of creating the new Roman Empire..
Originally posted by anon72
reply to post by zookey
I understand that. But I don't think that comes into play on this.
This is establishing a "Code of Ethics" etc.
More of a guideline than laws/treadys etc.
Besides, any smart country that signed that tready then can now say B.S. With the new info/tech and possible aliens coming etc.
The Give em big weapons Folks will rise to the top. The US will already be there but... not if Obama continues his ways.
Originally posted by Maxmars
reply to post by zookey
That trilateral treaty is no longer valid since the Soviet Union dissolved and collapsed. I'm not certain that the media reporting this as a 'jurisdiction' issue is very accurate. In fact, it may be disingenuously misleading. Jurisdiction implies sovereignty... somehow I doubt any responsible leadership would cede sovereignty in space to a union of states barely two decades old.
The Administration's authority to engage in treaty-making without the benefit of any other branch of government to oversee it is questionable at best.... but since this is all corporate-political theater, they will accomplish whatever their goal is... regardless of how we "the people" feel about it.