Weaponization of space will have unpredictable consequences

04.04,06

MOSCOW, (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Kislyakov)

The United States has promised to make public in the next few months its new
space doctrine, which allows for the deployment of weapons in outer space.
Colonel Anthony Russo, chief of the U.S. Strategic Command's space and
global strike division, said the time was ripe for clearly stipulating the
Pentagon's responsibility for the security of the national space group.
Space-based laser and kinetic energy weapons will be used against those who
create obstructions to U.S. satellites. Logically, this will lead to the
creation of a space theater of war.

Much has been written and said about the inadmissibility of space
weaponization. In early March, Russia's Ambassador to the UN office in
Geneva Valery Loshchinin said again that the placement of weapons in space
would "provoke a new round of the race for nuclear missile and other arms,
both in space and on the Earth, which would boost the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles."

Russia has reaffirmed that it would not become the first to orbit weapons of
any type and called on all countries to follow its example.

But appeals are quickly muffled when weapons are cocked.

"Russia has the ability for an adequate response to the countries that orbit
their weapons," Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said during an
official visit to China in late August 2005. "Both Americans and Russians
are actively using space for military purposes. However, they have been
observing certain limits so far, deploying only communications, targeting,
intelligence and other [defense-related] spacecraft. These are not weapons.
But the deployment of weapons in space will have unpredictable
consequences."

You can imagine the consequences from another of the minister's quotes: "We
are orbiting commercial spacecraft from 30 or 40 countries, if I remember
correctly," he said. "As to carrier rockets, they are quite another matter."

Russia annually orbits a great deal of other countries' payloads and it does
not always know what exactly those are. Therefore, the Russian space
industry may become an indirect hostage to an orbital conflict, which means
the renewal of the race for all imaginary weapons, with a logical "adequate
response".

Back in 1983, Yury Andropov, then General Secretary of the Soviet Communist
Party Central Committee, publicly announced the termination of all space
weapons programs in the Soviet Union. The country made that gesture of
goodwill in the hope that the U.S. would abandon its Star Wars program.

>From the late 1950s to the early 1980s, the Soviet Union had attained
considerable success in the creation of combat space systems. In 1959, the
OKB-52 specialized machine-building design bureau started creating an
anti-satellite (ASAT) defense system. At the same time, the NII-4 research
institute of the defense ministry started analyzing possible ways of
fighting potential adversaries' satellites.

These efforts came to a head on June 18, 1982 when the Soviet General Staff
held an exercise simulating a nuclear and space war that lasted more than
seven hours. First, two UR-100 (SS-11 SEGO) intercontinental ballistic
missiles were launched, closely followed by an intermediate-range mobile
missile Pioner (a predecessor of Topol) and a ballistic missile launched
from a nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea.

After that, two anti-missiles were launched at the warheads and the
interceptor satellite Kosmos-1379 was launched into a low, near-Earth orbit
from the Baikonur spaceport. Several hours later, it passed in close
proximity to the Kosmos-1375 satellite, which simulated the American
navigation satellite Transit.

Despite the official prohibition of all tests of space interceptors on
August 18, 1983, the Salyut design bureau was secretly creating a combat
space station armed with laser and missile weapons called Skif.

In spring 2006, the concerned agencies of Russia and the Untied States
started doing something real. In early March, Colonel General Vladimir
Popovkin, Commander of the Russian Space Forces, toured strategic military
facilities in California and Florida at the invitation of General James E.
Cartwright, Commander of the United States Strategic Command.

A month later, General Cartwright visited the headquarters of the Russian
Space Forces, the computer center of the space control system, the Space
Mission Center, the Plesetsk spaceport and the Mozhaisky Aerospace Academy
in St. Petersburg.

If the two countries continue acting in this spirit of openness and
transparency, we should not fear, as there will be no alternative to
peaceful space programs. -0-