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US Says Space Arms Treaty Not Likely Soon

July 14, 2010

United States government official said Tuesday that he does not foresee a space arms control treaty anytime in the near future as there are still noticeable flaws in drafts being proposed at the moment.

“I don’t see any near-term progress on a space arms control treaty, but again I think there is a lot of shared interest between the US, Russia, China and others on providing space stability,” said Frank Rose, deputy assistant secretary of state at the Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation.

“There are a lot of near-term confidence building measures that we hope to work with Russia and China on,” he told AFP after a speech at the UN Conference on Disarmament.

Both Russia and China had proposed a new treaty in 2008 to ban weapons use in space, but the US maintained that it was a “flawed document.”

Rose said that one issue with the treaty proposal is that it does not ban land-based anti-satellite capabilities. “We do not believe anti-satellite capabilities are in anyone’s interest, they are debris generating,” said Rose.

“We need to maintain a sustainable space environment, blowing up satellites is not consistent with that principle,” he said.

Addressing the conference, Rose said that “with respect to negotiating a new space arms control agreement, we have not seen a space arms control agreement that meets the criteria … on equitability and effective verifiability.”

Brazil’s representative criticized Rose’s remarks, saying that effective verifiability was “attainable with the means disposed by not only one country but by many countries.”

“So it’s possible to have an agreement in the international community that would meet this criteria.” The representative added that there are “clear imbalances between countries” in almost every field.

So if the criteria of equitability were to be applied, “leading countries would never be able to negotiate or be party to an agreement, and it’s not the case, fortunately.”

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