Trump calls for 'Space Force', nations talk space peace

  • In Science
  • 2019-03-17 02:18:29Z
  • By Ben Simon
Russian Mission Control Centre outside Moscow.
Russian Mission Control Centre outside Moscow.  

Geneva (AFP) - On the surface, this looks like a terrible moment for the world's major military powers to negotiate a deal on preventing an arms race in space.

Last month, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned that the global disarmament architecture was "collapsing," citing various diplomatic failures, including Washington's decision to scrap a crucial nuclear weapons treaty with Russia.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has drafted plans for a new "Space Force" on orders from President Donald Trump who has declared space a "war-fighting domain".

Despite those headwinds, experts from 25 countries -- including China, Russia and the US -- open a 10-day meeting in Geneva Monday aiming to lay the groundwork for a treaty to keep space peaceful.

Even against the grim diplomatic backdrop, experts say there may be reasons for optimism.

"I hope I am not just indulging in wishful thinking here but I do see some positive initiatives against this rather dark background," said Paul Meyer, Canada's former disarmament ambassador and an expert on space security at The Simons Foundation in Vancouver.

- Hardware v action -

The closed-door Geneva talks involve a UN panel called a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE).

Chaired by Brazilian ambassador Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota to the UN Conference on Disarmament, the space GGE works on consensus and will only issue a report if all parties agree on its content.

Diplomatic efforts to forge a space treaty have been deadlocked for more than a decade.

A main problem, experts said, is that China and Russia have insisted on preventing certain devices from being deployed in space.

This has been a non-starter for the West which has instead favoured language that emphasises "behaviour" or "actions" in outer space that could be restricted.

Patriota told reporters the level of dialogue at the first GGE meeting in August was "several notches" better than in the past, with China and Russia indicating an openness to new ideas.

At next week's second and final meeting, the GGE will try to agree on a list of "elements" that could form a treaty, he said.

"We are making a big step here," he added.

- Why hope? -

Patriota noted that one factor possibly motivating states to move forward is the notion of "vulnerability" in space.

Notwithstanding the rhetoric of a leader like Trump who boasts of ever-expanding defence budgets, military professionals understand that overwhelming dominance is not enough to protect a nation's space assets, experts said.

"Asymmetrical capabilities are big," Jessica West, project manager of the 2018 Space Security Index report, told AFP.

"It is very difficult for any action to defend their assets in space alone," she added.

Meyer, also the ex-head of the intelligence bureau at Canada's foreign ministry, told AFP that another factor creating diplomatic momentum is that space "is no longer just a rich man's club".

Dozens of countries including developing nations now operate satellites and that list will only grow, he said.

Space technology -- whether related to reconnaissance, mapping or navigation -- has also become an integral part of both military and civilian everyday life.

The question governments face is "where are the best interests of the nation served?" Meyer said.

"Is it in sparking a further arms race relating to this very vital environment for global prosperity... or is it in making an effort to devise arrangements with some of your potential adversaries," to keep space peaceful, he added.

- Space Force -

Patriota conceded that Trump's move in August to create a new military branch dedicated to space hangs over the talks.

But, he said, US participation so far had been "constructive".

West stressed that despite Trump's "inflammatory" rhetoric, parts of his space force proposal are actually not that confrontational.

"Some of it is a bureaucratic reorganisation," which will see personnel already working on space in the Navy, Air Force, and Army brought under one roof.

The US is also just following moves made in China and Russia, which already have military departments dedicated to space, experts noted.

- Breaking point? -

Patriota said that any kind of consensus document that outlines a potential path towards a treaty would be a success for the GGE.

The consequences of failure are harder to predict.

Some expect the talks to sputter out and join a long list of UN disarmament efforts that have fallen flat.

But, West warned, the stakes next week may be higher.

"I think we are reaching a breaking point... and this may be the last opportunity to step back from the brink and maintain outer space as a direct combat-free zone," she said.

"If we do slip over the edge, then reining it in will be near impossible."


More Related News

Trump 'Go Back' Tweets at Progressive Congresswomen Spark Furor

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump sparked a furor on Sunday by suggesting that four progressive female Democratic lawmakers, led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, should return to the "broken and crime infested places from which they came."Democrats said the president was being racist and divisive. Three of the four women Trump was apparently referencing were born in the U.S.; none are white. The comments, made in a three-tweet string early Sunday, seem aimed at first-term Representatives Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. "The Squad," as the quartet is known, has been engaged in an intraparty...

French President Emmanuel Macron announces creation of French space force
French President Emmanuel Macron announces creation of French space force

On the eve of Bastille Day celebrations, Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of a French space force command within the French air force.

There are 2 dozen 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, but it
There are 2 dozen 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, but it's really only a 5 person race

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg are the only 2020 candidates who have consistently polled viably.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump and an eco legacy not his own
AP FACT CHECK: Trump and an eco legacy not his own

President Donald Trump and his aides this past week celebrated an environmental legacy that is not theirs to claim. In large measure, the progress they cited pre-dates Trump's presidency. Trump's veterans affairs chief cited improvements in waiting times and quality of care at VA health centers

Trump says nationwide immigration arrests to begin Sunday
Trump says nationwide immigration arrests to begin Sunday

The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said efforts to deport families with orders to leave the country will continue after an upcoming national sweep that President Donald Trump said would start Sunday. Matthew Albence, the agency's acting director, said targets were on an "accelerated docket" of immigration court cases for predominantly Central Americans who recently arrived at the U.S. border in unprecedented numbers. "This family operation is nothing new," Albence told The Associated Press.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


  • MatBluege
    (2019-05-31 11:50:20Z)

    Discount Plavix Propecia Hair Loss Symptoms Amoxicillin Side Effects In Children antabuse sales canadian Viagra Otras Pastillas Tadarise Pro 20

  • MatBluege
    (2019-06-07 12:05:12Z)

    Does Amoxicillin Cure Chlamydia [url=]cheapest cialis 20mg[/url] Amoxicillin Drug Category Want To Buy Zentel

  • MatBluege
    (2019-06-14 22:53:16Z)

    Cialis Generique Andorre Doxycycline Tablets Buy Worldwide Direct Acticin 30gm online pharmacy Cialis Comprar Barato

  • MatBluege
    (2019-06-23 04:51:37Z)

    Que Es Levitra 20 Mg Cheap Kamagra Tablets Generic Viagra Side Effects viagra Super Viagra Without Prescriptions Medecine Misoprostol

  • MatBluege
    (2019-07-01 12:11:59Z)

    Comprar Levitra Pago Contra Reembolso Propecia Und Testosteron buy viagra online Viagra Pas Cher Au Canada Cialis Plux Dapoxetine Commande En Ligne

  • MatBluege
    (2019-07-09 12:20:06Z)

    Buy Clomid Online Without A Script Lasix Purchase Online Secure Ordering Isotretinoin With Free Shipping Saturday Delivery Price viagra Ciao Finasteride Propecia Maxium Pediatric Amoxil Dose


Top News: Science

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.