U.S. Seeks Transparency and Confidence Building Measures for Space

U.S. Seeks Transparency and Confidence Building Measures for Space

The United States is seeking new bilateral space transparency and confidence building measures (TCBMs) with Russia and China that could lead to multilateral space TCBMs. Garold Larson, Alternative Representative to the United Nations First Committee, laid out these U.S. goals in a statement to the U.N. First Committee in October.

Larson noted that the U.S. and Russia met to discuss bilateral TCBMs in the wake of the collision between a U.S. Iridium satellite and a defunct Russian satellite in February 2009 and welcomed “Russia’s willingness to view this as a ‘teachable moment.'” Later, criticizing China for the debris created by its 2007 antisatellite (ASAT) test, he called on China to provide “greater transparency regarding its intentions for the development, testing, and deployment of direct-ascent ASAT weapons and other elements of its multi-dimensional counter-space program.” He warned that any future Chinese ASAT tests would “undermine the credibility of the PRC’s declaratory statements” condemning the weaponization of space and stressed the importance of Chinese assurances in 2008 that “China will not conduct future ASAT tests in space.”

Bilateral TCBMs with Russia and China could lead to multilateral TCBMs, Larson said, that can increase transparency, reduce uncertainty, and decrease the risk of misinterpretation or miscalculation. He added that the United States would work with the European Union and “other like-minded nations in efforts to advance a set of voluntary TCBMs….”

Larson then stated that the United States will —

  • uphold the principles of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty
  • continue to support the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense, as reflected in the U.N. charter
  • reject limitations on the fundamental right of the United States to operate in, and acquire data from, space
  • conduct U.S. space activities in accordance with international law
  • highlight the responsibility of states to avoid harmful interference to other nations’ peaceful exploration and use of outer space, and
  • take a leadership role in international fora to promote policies and practices aimed at debris minimization and preservation of the space environment.

Highlights of Larson’s statement were outlined by Dick Buenneke, Deputy Director, Space Policy at the State Department’s Office of Missile Defense and Space Policy in a November speech at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute as previously reported on SpacePolicyOnline.com.

The U.N. First Committee is one of six “main committees” of the United Nations General Assembly. It deals with disarmament and international security.

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