Despite urging from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and many participating governments, the 65-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) proved unable in 2008 to break its long-standing stalemate on negotiating priorities. It has been 12 years since the CD last produced an arms control agreement. (Continue)
Iran carried out a test of a space launch vehicle Aug. 17, claiming the test was in preparation for placing an Iranian satellite in orbit. Although not believed to have been successful, the test has continued to raise concerns in the West. U.S. and European governments fear that Iran's development of rockets capable of placing satellites in orbit will improve Iran's ability to build longer-range ballistic missiles. (Continue)
At the stalemated Conference on Disarmament (CD), Russia recently urged states to pursue separate pacts to outlaw all arms in space and ban certain types of missiles already forsworn by Russia and the United States. Chances for work on those two proposals or other long-standing subjects appear slim, however, as no issue commands the prerequisite consensus at the 65-member conference. The negotiating climate was further clouded in late February by the U.S. destruction of a faulty U.S. satellite. (Continue)
China 's Jan. 11 test of a sophisticated hit-to-kill anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon should have shattered complacency about the dangers posed by these arms. Much press commentary has focused on the threat to U.S. military systems, but these are less vulnerable than is popularly perceived. The real danger lies less in the military realm than in the long-term risk to civilian communications, weather forecasting, and pure scientific research conducted by all space-faring nations. (Continue)
Forty years ago this month, the Senate approved the Outer Space Treaty, which bars signatory states from placing into orbit any objects carrying nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Although it has helped protect space for peaceful uses by all countries, the treaty has not closed off all threats to the safety of military and civilian space assets and the pursuit of other types of space-based weapons.
For instance, some countries have developed offensive weapons capabilities that can shoot down satellites in orbit using ground-based ballistic missiles. The United States is now contemplating “defensive,” space-based, kinetic-energy missile interceptors. The time has come once again for states to engage in dialogue on space security and avert a new and dangerous arms competition in the heavens. (Continue)
After shooting down one of its weather satellites Jan. 11, the Chinese government maintained a baffling silence until Jan. 23 when it confirmed foreign reports of the event...