In the twentieth century people learnt to use the outer space and enjoyed the benefits of this use. However, in the twenty-first century many states are more concerned about the fact that “the same technologies that benefit humanity are pressed into service as weapons” (Johnson-Freese and Nichols 2007, 159). The development of space technology in the USA and the U.S. Space Policy brought these concerns to the fore.
It is important to note that nowadays the outer space is already inhabited by more than 500 satellites which are used for military purposes, e.g. for communication, imaging and meteorology (jonlottman 2008). The USA is one of the leaders of the space technology and it is trying to find new ways of exploring and using the outer space.
In 2006 National Space Policy (NSP) was unveiled. Reportedly, it can be regarded by other states “as highly nationalistic at best and aggressively militaristic at worst” (Johnson-Freese and Nichols 2007, 161).
In fact, the new NSP “treats space as one more potential battlefield” and is aimed at defending the US national security. Nevertheless, the line between military defense and attack is almost absent especially when it deals with the outer space.
Admittedly, all states try to develop their space technology to keep up with such countries as the USA, or Russia and China. For instance, Iran launched Omid satellite in February 2009 (Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report 2010). Such projects are often regarded by many states as a potential threat to the security of each country and the peace in the world.
For instance, at the 2002 Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference scientists and specialists from many countries discussed the issues of space weaponization. Weaponization is defined as “the active application of force in space to either terrestrial or space based targets” (Johnson-Freese and Nichols 2007, 166).
The participants of the conference revealed their concerns about the development of space technologies and their use by the USA and other countries. It was also mentioned that the U.S. policy makes other countries develop their own space technologies.
Admittedly, this can lead to space weapon proliferation and can become a real threat to humanity. In spite of the fact that the US administration officials declare that the USA is against weapon proliferation, when it deals with the space the US policy is quite inconsistent since the state “explicitly voted against” treaties “banning space weapons” (Johnson-Freese and Nichols 2007, 166).
The major claim of the US officials can be expressed with the help of the statement of Christine Rocca, U.S. Ambassador: “…we continue to believe that there is no arms race in space, and therefore no problem for arms control to solve” (Johnson-Freese and Nichols 2007, 167). Such position leads to certain tension.
It goes without saying that weapon proliferation is a potential threat if at least one state is developing space technology in military purposes. For instance, the US policy is a kind of stimulus for other countries to develop their space technology to defend themselves from potential threats. There can be no balance in the world where some countries go further in weaponization.
In conclusion, the use of space technology by the USA is often an example for other states to develop their space technology. Whereas several decades ago the outer space was used for imaging, communication and entertainment, now it is regarded as a potential battlefield.
It is important to state that many countries express their concern about space weaponization and try to work out strategies aimed at diminishing weapon proliferation. Nevertheless, it is necessary to stress that each state should follow the principles of nonproliferation and disarmament, since otherwise proliferation cannot be stopped.
Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report. 2010. February, https://www.defense.gov/ .
Johnson-Freese, Joan and Thomas M. Nichols. 2007. ” Space, Security, and the New Nuclear Triad.” Brown Journal of World Affairs XIV, no. 1 (Fall/Winter): 159-172.
jonlottman. 2008. “The Proliferation Threat #6 of 6: Weapons in Space.” Youtube, July 2, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrwrR6DElRE .