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Round Table with Mr. Micheal Krepon on Space Security

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  • October 30, 2012
    Round Table

    IDSA organized a Round Table Discussion on October 30, 2012. The speaker for the Round Table was Micheal Krepon, co-founder of Stimson Centre, and director of the South Asia and Space Security programmes at Stimson Cenre. Dr. Arvind Gupta, DG IDSA, chaired the meeting and it was attended by Amb. (retd) R. Rajagopalan, Wg Cdr Ajey Lele, Dr. Rajeshwari Rajagopalan, Mr. Sam Rajiv, Mr. Kapil Patil, Ms Nupur Brahma and Ms. Gunjan Singh.

    Mr. Krepon discussed the idea of space security in terms of norms. He argued that norms could be used to strengthen responsible behaviour among space faring nations. He said that space and cyber are very closely interlinked. However, even though norms are being created for developments in space, cyber security is still not being given due attention.

    According to Mr. Krepon, developing a space treaty in the present day international context when China and Russia are holding different opinions vis-à-vis the United States is a very tough task. The process is also very time consuming and difficult. Thus, it would be right to start and frame widely accepted transparency and confidence building measures. Under this framework, the Code of Conduct (CoC) is a good and workable option. Codes are expected to be voluntary in nature and it will also help in creating increased awareness. According to the Simson Centre, “a CoC is needed to insure the safe operation of satellites while at the same time increasing cooperation in space, thereby reducing tensions that might lead to conflict in space”.

    There are three areas which need to be put in norms, with respect to Space Security:

    • Space traffic management
    • Debris management
    • No purposeful harmful interference with objects in space

    The following points emerged during the discussion:

    • There is a need to work towards establishing mechanisms to ensure space security. However treaty route is difficult to follow as there are a number of hurdles.
    • Space CoC can be regarded as one option. However CoC is non-enforceable and it is an accepted fact that the CoC does not prevent arms race in space. It is a political document and is non-binding.
    • It is difficult to prevent development of military capabilities in space; it argued that CoC could be helpful in preventing another ASAT, even though it is not perfect.
    • India does not have a history of engaging in multilateral forums and thus it should try and work on the CoC. CoC can be helpful in containing Chinese capabilities and thus would be helpful to both India and the United States.
    • The discussion also indicated that it is difficult to keep China out of space negotiations but there can be ways and means to embarrass China by means of naming and shaming.
    • There is a need for the international community, especially the space-faring nations to work on CBMs to ensure traffic management, debris management and prevent purposeful interference.
    • Mr. Krepon stated that the negotiations scheduled for November 2012 may not take place and also that the EU has not given any indication about the future plans.
    • Another important point which emerged during discussion was regarding the Hague Code of Conduct. It was argued that even though this document has been signed by many states, the important players in the field of ballistic missile defence technology have not signed it. Similar thing may happen with respect to the Space CoC as a number of non space-faring nations may sign it. However this would have little relevance.

    (report prepared by Gunjan Singh, IDSA)