By BARRY SCHWEID
AP Diplomatic Writer
December 13, 2006
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration warned Wednesday against
threats by terrorist groups and other nations against U.S. commercial
and military satellites, and discounted the need for a treaty aimed at
preventing an arms race in space.
Undersecretary of State Robert G. Joseph also reasserted U.S. policy
that it has a right to use force against hostile nations or terror
groups that might try to attack American satellites or ground
installations that support space programs. President Bush adopted a new
U.S. space policy earlier this year.
``We reserve the right to defend ourselves against hostile attacks and
interference with our space assets,'' Joseph said in prepared remarks to
the George C. Marshall Institute.
Joseph, the senior arms control official at the State Department, said
nations cannot all be counted on to use space purely for peaceful
``A number of countries are exploring and acquiring capabilities to
counter, attack, and defeat U.S. space systems,'' Joseph said
He also said terrorists ``understand our vulnerabilities and have
targeted our economy in the past, as they did on 9/11.'' He said
terrorists and enemy states might view the U.S. space program as ``a
highly lucrative target,'' while sophisticated technologies could
improve their ability to interfere with U.S. space systems and services.
Joseph did not identify terror groups or nations that might have such
motives. An aide to Joseph, who spoke on condition of anonymity because
he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said that information was
``For our part, we must take all of these threats seriously because
space capabilities are essential'' to the U.S. economy and government,
Joseph said. He said the U.S. is more reliant on space than any other
``No nation, no state-actor, should be under the illusion that the
United States will tolerate a denial of our right to the use of space
for peaceful purposes,'' he said.
Wade Boese, a spokesman for the private Arms Control Association,
challenged the adminstration's policy. He said rejecting additional
international arms controls for space runs counter to U.S. security
interests ``because the United States has the most to lose from an
unregulated space arena.''
Boese said he believes the administration wants to avoid negotiations in
order to preserve the possibility of deploying space-based missile
defense systems, such as interceptors.
Joseph listed telecommunications, transportation, electrical power,
water supply, gas and oil storage, transportation systems, emergency
services, banking and finance, and government services as relying
heavily on data transmitted by satellites.
``The United States views the purposeful interference with its space
systems as an infringement on our rights,'' he said, adding. ``If these
rights are not respected, the United States has the same full range of
options - from diplomatic to military - to protect its space assets as
it has to protect its other critical assets.''
Joseph ruled out negotiating a new international space agreement, saying
the 1967 Outer Space Treaty established an effective arms control
regime. The treaty bans the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in
outer space and declares outer space should be used only for peaceful
A new agreement is not necessary, Joseph said. ``We should concentrate
on real threats,'' he said, citing Iran and North Korea.
``There is no arms race in space and we see no signs of one emerging,''
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