Tuesday, June 29, 2010

POLITICS - Another Bad Bush Policy Gone

"Obama Reverses Bush’s Space Policy" by WILLIAM J. BROAD & KENNETH CHANG, New York Times 6/28/2010


The Obama administration on Monday unveiled a space policy that renounces the unilateral stance of the Bush administration and instead emphasizes international cooperation, including the possibility of an arms control treaty that would limit the development of space weapons.

In recent years, both China and the United States have destroyed satellites in orbit, raising fears about the start of a costly arms race that might ultimately hurt the United States because it dominates the military use of space. China smashed a satellite in January 2007, and the United States did so in February 2008.

The new space policy explicitly says that Washington will “consider proposals and concepts for arms control measures if they are equitable, effectively verifiable and enhance the national security of the United States and its allies.”

The Bush administration, in the space policy it released in August 2006, said it “rejects any limitations on the fundamental right of the United States to operate in and acquire data from space,” a phrase that was interpreted as giving a green light to the development and use of antisatellite weapons.

The policy also stated that Washington would “oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access or use of space,” a phrase that effectively ruled out arms control.

In secret, the Bush administration engaged in research that critics said could produce a powerful ground-based laser, among other potential weapons meant to shatter enemy satellites in orbit.

By contrast, the Obama policy underlines the need for international cooperation. “It is the shared interest of all nations to act responsibly in space to help prevent mishaps, misperceptions and mistrust,” the new policy says in its opening lines. “Space operations should be conducted in ways that emphasize openness and transparency.”

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