driving force behind today's calls for a PAROS treaty is international
concern over the apparent determination of the current U.S. leadership,
prompted by an overeager Pentagon and despite the physical and economic
limits, to deploy weapons in space. U.S. space policy remains, for
the time being, interpreted as respecting the preservation of space
for peaceful activities, but it does not actually rule out the option
of placing weapons in space. They write in the Conference on Disarmament document 1680 from July 10, 2002, "But the peaceful exploration and use of space obviously does not rule out activities in pursuit of national security goals." The U.S. is
currently reviewing its National Space
Policy, last updated in 1996. Many experts are predicting an
enlarged mandate both to protect
U.S. space assets and to attack the space assets of enemy states.
In addition, the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty,
signaling its intention to further develop such technology.
High-profile reports, such as that
of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space
Management and Organization (the Rumsfeld
Commission), which warned of an imminent "space Pearl Harbor"
attack by China, "seek to codify U.S.
intentions to conduct space warfare both for defensive and offensive
purposes and to establish "space control" at least in wartime if
not in peacetime.
The Space Command's Star Wars-esque
"Vision for 2020," for instance,
is now a familiar document, a blueprint for achieving "full spectrum
dominance." The Space Command warns that space assets are bound to become targets
in the future, given the growing recognition
of the value of outer space. Therefore the U.S. should develop the ability
to "dominate space," explicitly through the use of space-based earth
strike or anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons. One can only hope that a purpose is never found for such weapons.