new space policy in the United States might see President George
W Bush allow the Pentagon greater
authority to deploy space-based weapons, media reports have
quoted sources in administration and defence experts as saying.
According to reports, the new policy, being jointly drafted by
the Defence Department, the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) and others, might see the proliferation of
offensive weapons in space.
- Issued by former US president Bill Clinton in
1996, the policy first aimed at using satellites for defensive
purposes like keeping an eye on disarmament pacts and
environmental cleanups. But security officials showed concerns
about the chances of military and global communications
satellites being attacked by enemy nations and said that with
more nations launching satellites, the development of space
weapons might not be far behind.
- But industry watchers have warned such a move
by United States might actually result in an arms race with
China, Russia, and other countries. According to sources, the US
already possesses the blueprints for space-based weapon systems
and if such a policy comes through, the creation of such weapons
might take as little as 18 months. Space weapons include small
satellites attacking other satellites, and laser and radio waves
weapons as also small planes that drop destructive material on
- "It certainly has the potential to be a
significant moment if the US embraces a policy that advocates
space weapons. That contributes to other states being
interested," warned said Karl Mueller, a defence policy analyst
at Rand Corp, a firm handling research for the government.
- His contentions are echoed by Theresa
Hitchens, president, Center for Defense Information. "I fear it
is going to change the direction of US space policy that has
been steady since Eisenhower was president. Up to now, this has
been a campaign by the Air Force to have the freedom to do what
they want to do in space. This will, for the first time in US
history, give them the go-ahead," she said, adding, "Let's think
of a world where US has 'death stars' everywhere in space that
are going over countries every 10 minutes. Do you think other
countries are going to accept that?"
- However, the White House has denied trying to
'weaponize space'. "Let me make that clear right off the top,
because you asked about the weaponization of space, and the
policy that we're talking about is not looking at weaponizing
space," said Scott McClellan, President Bush's media secretary.
- However, he added, "Certainly during the last
eight or nine years, there have been a number of domestic and
international developments that have changed the threats and
challenges facing our space capabilities. There are countries
that have taken an interest in space. They have looked at
technologies that could threaten our space systems and so you
obviously need to take that into account when you're updating
the policy." McClellan said that the US believed in 'the
peaceful exploration of space'.
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