Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. @BruceKGagnon

Friday, December 02, 2022

U.S. complains about China's space program

 


 

Star(t) Wars: Pentagon Accuses PRC of Militarizing Space, Threatening US Supremacy

 

Sputnik

China and Russia proposed a comprehensive treaty aimed at nipping the danger of the militarization of space in the bud more than a decade ago, but four successive US administrations in a row have dismissed the proposal as a “diplomatic ploy.”

The director of staff of the US Space Force has accused China of posing a growing threat to America in the race for military supremacy in outer space.

“I think it’s entirely possible they could catch up and surpass us, absolutely,” Lieutenant-General Nina Armagno said, speaking at an event hosted by a Sydney-based think tank on Monday. “The progress they’ve made has been stunning, stunningly fast.” 

The US officer expressed concerns about a broad range of Chinese activities in space, ranging from the creation of new satellite communications systems and reusable spacecraft to long-term research on the prospects of mining asteroids and even planets for natural resources.

The threat China poses to the US in space is analogous to the one it poses on Earth, Armagno said. “[China] is the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order and increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to achieve that objective,” the officer warned.

The Space Force director of staff went on to accuse Beijing of “reckless” missile testing activities, and of fouling up the area around Earth with space junk. “These debris fields threatened all of our systems in space, and these systems are vital to all nations’ security, economic and scientific interests,” Armagno said. 

Current US Space Force domination of space

Armagno’s criticism of the Chinese missile testing programs is rich, given that the United States currently has more satellites orbiting the planet (read, future space junk) than the rest of the world combined. Astronomers around the world have repeatedly complained about the dangers these satellites pose to Earth-based telescopes, while governments have expressed fears that US commercial satellites may have be equipped with hidden dual-use military capabilities.

US officials have repeatedly accused China, Russia, Iran and North Korea of seeking to militarize outer space, after spending nearly 15 years ignoring proposals by Moscow and Beijing to create comprehensive, verifiable rules to prevent the deployment of military hardware in space.

In 2008, China and Russia put forth the Proposed Prevention of an Arms Race in Space (PAROS) Treaty, with the draft agreement banning the deployment of space-based weaponry, anti-satellite spacecraft, and other space technology which can be used for military purposes. Russian and Chinese diplomats have repeatedly returned to the idea in the years since, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressing as recently as last year that “generally accepted, legally binding measures which can prevent a military confrontation in outer space” can still be created, with PAROS serving as a jumping off point for negotiations.

Successive US administrations have dismissed the Russian-Chinese proposal as a “diplomatic ploy by the two nations to gain a military advantage” against the US, and in 2019, the Trump administration formally created Space Force as a separate branch of the US military, formalizing the Pentagon’s space-based ambitions. Space Force has been granted a complement of over 8,400 personnel, 77 spacecraft and satellites. The military branch has a proposed FY 2023 budget of $24.5 billion, about $5 billion more than it got in 2022.

Alongside its refusal to negotiate treaties aimed at preventing the militarization of space, Washington has also taken a number of steps over the past two decades to degrade strategic stability back home on Earth, such as its withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, the scrapping the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, and nearly letting the clock run out on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in early 2021.   

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