January 17, 2012
Obama Administration Expected To Announce Space-Arms Initiative
Washington insiders say that the White House plans to launch a new international space arms-control initiative that critics in the Pentagon and State Department have alleged will hamper America´s military activities in space.
According to the Washington Times, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to make an official announcement about the initiative this week, perhaps as early as today.
An unnamed official from the Obama administration told the Washington Times that: “The United States has decided to enter into formal consultations and negotiations with the European Union and other space-faring nations to develop an International Code of Conduct.”
“We believe the European Union´s draft Code of Conduct is a solid foundation for future negotiations on reaching a consensus international code,” added the official.
The anonymous source also noted that negations on the code would inevitably be a protracted process, probably extending into next year.
The decision to pursue an international space treaty comes almost four years after Washington rejected Russia and China´s proposal for an international treaty that would have outlawed the use of military weapons in space.
The anonymous information conflicts with comments made last week by Ellen Tauscher, the State Department´s chief official on international security and arms control. Tauscher stated that the US had refused to participate in the EU draft on the vague grounds that it was “too restrictive.”
In December 2009, the State Department wrote that the US “continues to have significant concerns about the widespread use of language connoting binding obligations, such as ℠shall´ and ℠will,´ in the proposed non-binding Code of [Space] Conduct.”
“The use of such language in a non-binding document is contrary to established practice; for example, The Hague Code of Conduct, which is not binding under international law, does not use such binding language.”
Prominent neoconservative commentator and former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton called the White House´s initiative “mindless.”
In an email to the Washington Times, Bolton stated that: “The last thing the United States needs is a space code of conduct [“¦] The ideology of arms control has already failed in the Russian ℠reset´ policy, and it is sure to fail here as well.”
The current EU version of the initiative attempts to achieve several broad goals: To outline international norms for non-threatening behavior in space, to increase transparency between nations with space programs, and to attempt to manage the potentially dangerous levels of space debris accumulating around Earth.
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