Russia proposes space weapons ban

Washington rejects Moscow's offer, saying ensuring compliance would be "impossible".

    The US Missile Defence Agency has asked for $10m to study the feasibility of space missile defences [AFP]

    He said: "Weapons deployment in space by one state will inevitably result  in a chain reaction. And this, in turn, is fraught with a new spiral  in the arms race both in space and on the earth."

    US rejection
     
    The US rejected Russia's call for the treaty, arguing that ensuring compliance would be "impossible".
     

    Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, said: "The United States opposes the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit access to or use of space."

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    The best way to prevent an arms race in space, said Perino, would be to "encourage discussions aimed at promoting transparency and confidence-building measures" so that countries are not in the dark about potential rivals' plans.

    She said:

    "Proposed arms control agreements or restrictions must not impair the rights of the US to conduct research, development, testing and operation or other activities in space for US national interests."

    Perino said past US administrations had "recognised the impossibility of achieving a verifiable and equitable space arms control agreement".

    Growing concerns

    Concerns over a new arms race in space have been growing since China tested an anti-satellite missile in January last year.

    The US also has its own anti-satellite programme, ranging from laser cannon to satellite destroying missiles.

    The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 bans the build up or stockage of military weapons, including nuclear arms or weapons of mass destruction, in orbit and their installation on the moon, but not the shooting down of satellites.

    The US has had no declared anti-satellite programme since 1985 when it destroyed one of its own satellites in space with a missile launched by a fighter jet.

    Test-bed study

    The US Missile Defence Agency asked last year for $10m to study the feasibility of a "test bed" to develop space-based missile defences.

    The US military has been preoccupied by the vulnerability of its satellite networks since 2001 when a commission led by Donald Rumsfeld, the then defence secretary, warned of the danger of a space "Pearl Harbour".
     
    Washington's plans for satellite and missle defence remain shrouded in secrecy but have sparked fears of an arms race with both Russia and China.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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