THE TORONTO STAR APRIL 30, 2002
Canada could prevent weaponization of space
No other country is in a better position to initiate international action
By James George, Dr. Carol Rosin and Alfred Webre
ON JUNE 13, 2002, the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty will expire following its unilateral termination by the Bush administration, leaving an international legal void that will allow the weaponization of space.
The termination of the ABM Treaty will permit research, development, testing, manufacturing, production and deployment of space-based weapons, and space-based components of the U.S. National Missile Defense System to go forward, instigating a dangerous, costly, and destabilizing arms race in space, impacting all of us.
Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Ivanov has already suggested that if the U.S. proceeds, Russia could deploy its own response to the U.S. space-based weapons system. The stated objectives of the United States Space Command in "Vision For 2020" are to seize the strategic high ground of space to "dominate and control."
There is a rapidly growing worldwide movement to stop this potentially catastrophic arms race in space. This must be stopped before it begins â" this year.
As seen from space, Canada lies between Russia and the United States, and, geography aside, no country is in a better position to initiate international action. Since 1982, Canada has led the growing United Nations lobby opposing weapons in space.
Deputy Prime Minister John Manley stated on July 26, 2001: "Canada would be very happy to launch an initiative to see an international convention preventing the weaponization of space." With the strong support of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the U.N. General Assembly last Nov. 29 voted 156-0 to prevent an
arms race in space. Almost everyone wants it.
On Sept. 28, 2001, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov had invited "the world community to start working out a comprehensive agreement on the non-deployment of weapons in outer space." At the U.N. Conference on Disarmament in June last year, China had taken a similar position.
But neither Russia nor China will initiate binding action while the United States is unbound. If Canada does not act now, who will? If we do, we will generate far more support and respect than we gathered over our land mines initiative. We could turn the tide that will lift all ships and preserve space as a weapons-free commons.
In the United States, polls confirm that this result is what the great majority of Americans want. When there is almost unanimous international pressure, as well as very strong domestic support, the United States will change course.
In the next few days, every head of government will be receiving, from the Institute for Cooperation in Space, a Space Preservation Treaty, which is the international companion to the legislation introduced as H.R. 3616, the Space Preservation Act of 2002, in the United States House of Representatives on Jan. 23.
The act requires the U.S. to implement an international treaty that will ban all space-based weapons and the use of weapons to destroy or damage objects in space that are in orbit to preserve the co-operative, peaceful uses of space for the benefit of all humankind.
The Space Preservation Treaty is an effective and verifiable world agreement that also will:
-Implement a ban on space-based weapons.
-Implement a ban on the use of weapons to destroy or
damage objects in space that are in orbit.
-Immediately order the permanent termination of
research and development, testing, manufacturing, production and
deployment of all space-based weapons.
The treaty allows for space exploration, research, development, testing, manufacturing, production and deployment of civil, commercial and defence activities in space that are not related to space-based weapons. Under the terms of the treaty, each nation having signed the treaty shall immediately work toward supporting other non-signatory nations in signing, ratifying and implementing the treaty.
Once three nations sign it and deposit it at the United Nations, Annan is required to report publicly to the U.N. General Assembly every 90 days on the progress of implementing a permanent ban on space-based weapons and on the progress of signing and ratifying the treaty.
Once 20 nations have signed and ratified the Space Preservation Treaty, it will go into force; the outer space peacekeeping agency will be funded and empowered to monitor and enforce the ban on space-based weapons.
Canada's signing of the treaty will encourage Russia to maintain Russia's and China's longstanding commitment to keep space weapons-free and to sign the treaty as well. Together, Canada, Russia, China, and many other nations already on record as supporting such a treaty, can lead the nations of the world in signing the Space Preservation Treaty.
We can and must stop the weaponization of space before it occurs. The signing of the Space Preservation Treaty will put needed pressure on the U.S. Congress and administration to sign this verifiable and enforceable agreement. This permanent ban on all space-based weapons, worldwide, will transform the war industry into a space industry that will stimulate the creation of clean and safe technologies, products and services, including new jobs and training programs, that can and will be applied directly to solving urgent human and environmental problems.
What can an ordinary citizen do? Contact Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and Foreign Minister Bill Graham immediately. Tell them to lead the way, to be the first to say that they will sign the Space Preservation Treaty. This is the greatest challenge of our generation.
James George is a retired Canadian diplomat who served at the United Nations. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Carol Rosin is president of The Institute for Co-operation in Space (ICIS), a non-profit educational foundation.
Alfred Lambremont Webre is an ICIS international director.
The ICIS Web site is http://www.peaceinspace.com