Published On: Tue, Sep 12th, 2017

US fears ‘SPACE PEARL HARBOUR’ opposes Chinese and Russian bill to demilitarise universe | Science | News

The draft treaty was first presented in 2008 and will be updated for the second time in the upcoming UN General Assembly.

The treaty is favoured by the majority of UN members, but the US has been opposing it arguing it relies too heavily on space and could be vulnerable to attack.

In 2001 a commission chaired by Donald Rumsfield warned that the US may suffer a “space Pearl Harbour” from an enemy attack on American satellites.

The commission warned: “The US is more dependent on space than any other nation. Yet the threat to the US and its allies in and from space does not command the attention it merits.

“Those hostile to the US can acquire on the global market the means to deny, disrupt or destroy US space systems by attacking satellites in space, communication links to and from the ground or ground stations that command the satellites and process their data.”

The US just last week launched a drone on its fifth mission called Boeing X-37B, which is a spacecraft that could be used for warfare.

The most advanced space nation said it is adopting a “wait and see” response, neither wishing to immediately de-militarise nor further develop its weapons capabilities.

In 1972, the Soviet Union and America signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which banned both countries from developing national ABM systems.

The George W. Bush administration chose to withdraw from it in 2001, which Russia saw as compromising its national security.

The US military relies on spacecraft for navigation, communications, reconnaissance, targeting and weather forecasts.

Space craft are expensive, hard to defend and slow to replace.

An enemy of the US could downgrade its military strength by targeting its space components.

In 2007, China shot down its old weather satellites, triggering outcry across the Pacific and a similar test by the Pentagon the following year.

Last year, China launched Aolong-1, or “roaming dragon”, which its robotic arm is designed to remove space debris.

But the South China Morning Post argued that it could be used to attack satellites.

The Obama administration revision of 2010 overturned this in favour of multilateral cooperation in space but did not commit to keeping space demilitarised.

Washington insisted it would rather follow a non-binding code of conduct in space.

The Trump administration has done little to update space policy.

But with the White House’s current focus on increased military spending, it is unlikely that Washington will not agree to deploy weapons in space.

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