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Pentagon, State Endorse Space Code Plans

The U.S. Defense and State departments both endorse a U.S. initiative unveiled this week to develop a multilateral code of conduct for space operations in conjunction with the European Union, the Pentagon said on Wednesday (see GSN, Jan. 18).

The departments previously suggested restrictions on U.S. policy options could result from proposed EU rules intended to serve as a basis for the code's development, according to a previous report. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday announced the effort to establish an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

The Pentagon "supports the concept” of such rules, spokesman George Little said. “An international code of conduct can enhance U.S. national security by encouraging responsible space behavior by reducing the risk of mishaps, misperceptions and mistrust.”

The preliminary EU rules offer "a promising basis for an international code,” Little said (U.S. Defense Department release, Jan. 18).

One U.S. lawmaker, though, expressed reservations about the plan.

“Based on briefings that have been provided to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), the administration’s intention to sign the U.S. up for [an] EU code of conduct-type space arms control regime would have far reaching consequences. Furthermore, the end goals of this announcement are murky at best," Representative Michael Turner (R-Ohio) said in a statement.

“I’m deeply concerned that while the administration claims the code is nonbinding, analysis provided to the HASC by the Joint Staff makes clear that impacts on military operations in space will be anything but.  The same impacts could very well apply to our intelligence community.

“These apparent impacts also suggest that, without congressional approval, the president quite likely doesn’t have the authority to impose a code of conduct-type arms control arrangement on the United States," he added. “If the president thinks an arrangement like the code of conduct is in the interest of the United States, I urge him to work with the Congress to determine what it is he’s trying to accomplish and then seek congressional approval on the merits”  (U.S. Representative Michael Turner release, Jan. 17)

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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