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General News    H3'ed 6/22/09

Militarization Of Space: Threat Of Nuclear War On Earth

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On June 17, immediately after the historical ninth heads of state summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Yekaterinburg, Russia on the preceding two days, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao announced that their nations were drafting a joint treaty to ban the deployment of weapons in outer space to be presented to the United Nations General Assembly.

A statement by the presidents reflected a common purpose to avoid the militarization of space and said:

"Russia and China advocate peaceful uses of outer space and oppose the prospect of it being turned into a new area for deploying weapons.

"The sides will actively facilitate practical work on a draft treaty on  the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, and of the use of force or threats to use force against space facilities, and will continue an intensive coordination of efforts to guarantee the security of activities in outer space." [1]

The statement also addressed the question of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its global expansion as well as an integrally related danger, the US-led drive to development a worldwide - and more than worldwide - interceptor missile system aimed at neutralizing China's and Russia's deterrent and retaliation capacities in the event of a first strike attack on either or both.

The section of the joint communique addressing the above stated, "Russia and China regard international security as integral and comprehensive. The security of some states cannot be ensured at the expense of others, including the expansion of military-political alliances or the creation of global or regional missile defense systems." [2]

The two leaders' comments assumed greater gravity and legitimacy as Medvedev and Hu had both just attended the two-day SCO summit which included heads of states and other representatives of the SCO's six full members [China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), its four observer states (India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, with the heads of state of all but Mongolia participating, the first time for an Indian prime minister), the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and attendees from Belarus and Sri Lanka, the latter also for the first time at an SCO summit.

The statement by the Russian and Chinese presidents also came the day after the first-ever heads of state summit of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations in the same Russian city.

To confirm the seriousness and urgency of Hu's and Medvedev's concerns over the expansion of the arms race and potential armed conflict into space, on the same day as their statement was released Russian Deputy Defence Minister Vladimir Popovkin addressed a press conference in Moscow and issued comments that were summarized by the local media as "Russia warns that technology failure with weapons in space may accidentally invite a massive response amounting to nuclear war."

He warned that his nation's "response to American weapons in orbit would be asymmetric but adequate." [3]

Popovkin's comments were revealing in a number of ways, reflecting as they did on the manner in which the United States twenty years ago became the sole world superpower it has been until recently:

"There is a more adequate answer to the possible deployment by the USA of weapons in outer space; we do not have to deploy in space expensive armaments for it.

"To have weapons of your own for waging space wars, you have to understand first why you need them there. We've already passed the 'Star Wars' epic, and know well how it ended - in the breakup of the Soviet Union.

"Russia has a more adequate answer to the possible deployment by the USA of weapons in space, but we have no need to deploy in space expensive armaments for it; the answer will be absolutely asymmetric." [4]

A week earlier Colonel-General Nikolai Solovtsov, Commander of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces, said that a "new strategic arms reduction pact with the United States must prohibit any kinds of offensive weapons in space," and expounded on his nation's concerns by adding:

"Our country is interested in including limitations not only on the number of nuclear warheads, but also on the number of their delivery vehicles in the new arms reduction treaty. We also stand for maintaining the ban on the deployment of strategic weapons, offensive and defensive, outside national borders, the prohibition of any kinds of offensive weapons in space, and a more efficient use of inspection and data exchange mechanisms established in line with the START 1 treaty." [5]

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/
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