The Washington Post reported yesterday:
The United Nations Conference on Disarmament last week approved a working group to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissionable material for nuclear weapons and another to discuss preventing an arms race in outer space.
The U.N. group, which met in Geneva, had been unable to agree on a work agenda for the past 10 years. That was partly because of the U.S. refusal to give in to demands by the Chinese and Russians for the conference to study prevention of arms in space. In turn, those countries and others blocked negotiations sought by the United States to ban production of new fissile material for weapons without verification provisions.
In other words, the Obama administration is prepared to sacrifice one of our nation’s greatest strategic advantages by granting another concession in terms of accepting an unworkable verification protocol to the other prospective treaty that would attempt to end the production of fissile material. Further, the treaty to end the production of fissile material, in order to have a realistic chance of entering into force, will, as a practical matter, likely permit some number of other states, but not the U.S., to continue to produce fissile material.
Regarding the prospective space treaty, space is already weaponized. Not only do we need spaced based capabilities for our missile defense systems, but our satellites provide direct command and control to almost all of our weapons systems, making them integral components of our entire national defense. This concession comes under a circumstance where the Obama Administration does not even have in hand a U.S.-proposed treaty text. Thus, the only question before the working group on space arms is whether to accept the current Chinese/Russian proposal, which is highly prejudicial against U.S. security interests.
Space should NOT be a bargaining chip for the fissile material cut-off treaty. A new space treaty would only serve to bridle US space capabilities, while giving the Chinese and Russians ample opportunity to close the technological gap.