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Context of 'August 30, 2001: UN Urges US Not to Weaponize Space'

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MSNBC interviews Paul Stares, an expert on space at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, for an article it is preparing on US plans to weaponize space. Stares is very critical of these plans, arguing that it will spark a new arms race and ultimately increase the vulnerability of US military and commercial assets in space. “It is currently not in the US interest to develop an anti-satellite system,” he says. “We have more to lose than gain from developing such a system. So you really have to wonder at the end of the day whether this is a path we really want to encourage others to go down.” Other experts interviewed by MSNBC have similar opinions. Michael Krepon, president of the Henry L. Stimson Center, also says that by weaponizing space, it would encourage others to do the same. [MSNBC, 4/27/2001]

Entity Tags: Paul Stares, Michael Krepon

Timeline Tags: US Military

President George W. Bush appoints Gen. Richard Myers, an expert in hi-tech computer and space warfare, as the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Observers say that Bush’s nomination of Myers, a former head of the US Space Command, reflects the Bush administration intent to develop a missile defense system and weaponize space. [Washington File, 8/24/2001; PBS, 8/24/2001; Reuters, 8/30/2001]

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, George W. Bush

Timeline Tags: US Military

The United Nations urges the US not to weaponize space. UN Undersecretary General for disarmament affairs Jayantha Dhanapala tells Reuters in an interview that if the US follows through with its stated intentions of dominating space, it would likely lead to a renewed arms race. “It’s going to certainly according to the stated intentions of some countries lead to the production of more missiles,” Dhanapala says. “My discussions with the Chinese, discussions I’ve had in Beijing and elsewhere, indicated this.” [Reuters, 8/30/2001]

Entity Tags: Jayantha Dhanapala

Timeline Tags: US Military

The White House releases a new National Space Policy that contrasts sharply with the space policy statement issued ten years earlier by the Clinton administration. According to the new policy, Washington’s top goals in space are to “strengthen the nation’s space leadership and ensure that space capabilities are available in time to further US national security, homeland security, and foreign policy objectives” and to “enable unhindered US operations in and through space to defend our interests there.” It says the US reserves it right to reject any arms-control agreement that would potentially limit US flexibility in space and says it will deny any country access to space that is considered “hostile to US interests.” It also encourages private enterprise in space and says that privately owned space assets should be protected by the US military. The new policy marks a substantial shift from the policy that was outlined under the previous administration. In 1996, the Clinton White House said its top goals were to “enhance knowledge of the Earth, the solar system and the universe through human and robotic exploration” and to “strengthen and maintain the national security of the United States.” The new policy statement raises concern among critics that the Pentagon intends to weaponize space. However a senior administration official rejects that view, telling the Washington Post, “This policy is not about developing or deploying weapons in space. Period.” The new policy statement will be released on October 6, the Friday before the Columbus Day weekend, at the close of business, with no public announcement. [White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, 8/31/2006 pdf file; Space (.com), 10/7/2006; Washington Post, 10/18/2006]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush

Timeline Tags: US Military

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