Outer Space: Weapons, Diplomacy, and Security

Outer Space: Weapons, Diplomacy, and Security

Space Policy 27 (2011) 255–256 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect Space Policy journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/spacepol B...

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Space Policy 27 (2011) 255–256

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Space Policy journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/spacepol

Book review Outer Space: Weapons, Diplomacy, and Security, Edited Alexei Arbatov, Vladimir Dvorkin (Eds.). Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC (2010). (pbk); 978-087003-251-6 (cloth), ISBN: 978-0-87003-250-9 Outer Space: Weapons, Diplomacy, and Security presents the Russian perspective on the realms of outer space. A range of topics is covered within the book. Part I examines civilian and military activities in outer space; topics dealt with include dual purpose satellites, relevant scientific theory, the historical context of outer space development and space weapon programmes. Part 2 covers various negotiations and legal regulations governing outer space. Discussion includes the international negotiations which have taken place and possible future frameworks which could be adopted. The book presents articulate analysis and arguments relevant to both sections and demonstrates an advantageous economy of words. Chapters are produced in a concise and articulate manner and present fundamental issues well. Generally, the book serves as an excellent guide for both practitioners and postgraduate students interested in outer space. Peter Topychkanov’s first chapter and assumes that the reader has little to no working scientific knowledge concerning outer space. This chapter is essential reading for all those not coming to the topic from an astrophysics background. Topychkanov discusses the theory of orbital science as well as the operation of various satellites within specific orbits. He explains the general working scientific aspects of outer space. Beginning with a helpful definition of outer space as “everything beyond the Earth’s atmosphere”, he notes the operational uses of each orbit whether military and/or civilian. Topychkanov explores the environmental factors, general factors and other conditions upon which such operations are dependent. Military space activities are compared with non-space military activities and clearer analysis would have been helpful here, since his commentary in places appears to contradict his analysis, some of the terms of which are not fully defined. However this section is fundamental to the establishment of a framework with which a reader should be familiar in order to attain maximum benefit from the rest of the book. In Chapter 2 Babintsev describes the historical perspective of outer space exploration including peaceful and military developments of outer space. The chapter does not provide the fullest historical grounding as a foundation for the chapters which follow. Babintsev does not provide a discussion of the peaceful developments of outer space and the chapter lacked full referencing of primary material, which was disappointing. Significant issues are presented, but not always fully analysed. The chapter is rather a short descriptive essay detailing some of the major developments in space exploration from 1957 to the present day. A good deal of outer space technology and its development is discussed, but not in great detail. Babintsev also presents an overview of increasing


use of space technology in recent conflicts with which the USA has been involved. In Chapter 3 Dvorkin provides an historical analysis of space weapons programs, beginning with that of the USSR. The information presented could have been arranged in a more ordered fashion, although this chapter provides excellent analysis. Beginning with the USSR’s asymmetric response to US technological developments in outer space, Dvorkin comments that the 1960s were the starting point for the USSR’s space weapons programme. Satellite interceptors are described and the section provides some analysis of the USSR’s response to President Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) programme. Dvorkin then proceeds to examine the USA from this perspective. This adds balance to the chapter. He writes that the US development of anti-satellite systems began following the launch of Sputnik in 1957. Dvorkin provides more analytical discussion on US (as compared with Soviet) space weaponry development, resulting in a somewhat imbalanced description. He provides a general classification of “space weapons” without fully defining the terms which are used and without mentioning further specific sub-categories of weapons, e.g. nuclear/biological/chemical (NBC). This might be seen as a shortcoming in the chapter, which also does not discuss the relative importance of the development of nuclear weapons (as compared with kinetic kill weapons). Much of the analysis is less effective as a result. Nevertheless, Dvorkin provides a good description of strategic concepts and national interests from the foreign policy perspectives of the USA, China and Russia. Chapter 4 is the first chapter to address legal frameworks as they pertain to outer space. It provides an overview of the historical account concerning the negotiations which resulted in the establishment of bilateral and multilateral treaties of outer space. Mizin presents a succinct overview of the international agreements concerning space weapons. Although he does not provide clear definitions of the term “space weapon”, his analysis, especially with regards to ABM and BMD development, is effective. This chapter would have benefited from further discussion of the Outer Space Treaty 1967 and the Moon Treaty 1979. Mizin fails to discuss important terminology such as the “peaceful uses/purposes” of outer space around which much negotiation on arms control agreements was centred. More analysis surrounding the Outer Space Treaty 1967 would have provided a basis upon which Mizin could have developed his arguments concerning “negotiations on nuclear and space arms”. Overall, however, the chapter is informative and demonstrates excellent use of primary and secondary research material. Oznobishchev provides an alternative approach which discusses the potential control of outer space through a “code of conduct”, calling to mind Paul Stares’ arguments presented in Space and National Security (1987) advocating a “rules of the road” approach to outer space. Oznobishchev takes this one step further by incorporating other examples of codes of conduct such as the European code of conduct in coastal zones, in order to lay the foundation for


Book review / Space Policy 27 (2011) 255–256

the possibility of future formal treaties. In Chapter 5 Oznobishchev provides some good arguments advocating a code of conduct approach. He presents the above as a second model for the control of space emerging within the international space community. By way of example various treaties, including ABM, SALT I, INF and START I are discussed. Oznobishchev’s argument that outer space has yet to be militarised is not adequately justified. This notion is also not in keeping with the view maintained by his co-authors, who variously assert that outer space has been militarised. However this chapter presents good arguments as to the first steps which might be taken towards greater international cooperation in outer space. In Chapter 6 Arbatov advocates the prevention of an arms race in space. He correctly notes the historical context within which the complex issue of banning or limiting space weapons through legal means occurs. Arbatov brings much to the differing perspectives presented by the various authors and proceeds to a logical conclusion which is well justified. He observes that “no new disarmament agreements have taken effect since 1994”. Of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty 2002, Arbatov writes that its status is ‘unclear’. This chapter provides much analytical detail concerning the Draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space (PPWT) proposed by China and Russia. Arbatov utilises a realist paradigm but fails to fully analyse the geostrategic factors which appear to have motivated the two countries to present this treaty as a counter to burgeoning US space power. A definition of “space weapon” is lacking as a preparation for his discussion of space weapons, where, for instance, he writes that “the law does not currently prohibit the placement of any weapons in space that are not weapons of mass destruction; nor is there any prohibition on the development, testing, and deployment of anti-satellite weapons in space”. Some might argue that an ASAT is not a space

weapon or a weapon in space, yet Arbatov does not provide the reader with a definition of either, something which would have added greater weight to his arguments. Overall the book is excellent. It views the complex situation from the Russian perspective and provides good descriptive research, as well as excellent analysis. It might have been preferable if the authors had approached their topic from the same theoretical perspective as each other. Some argue that space is not yet weaponised, whereas others argue that it is. No formal definition of “space weapon” is presented. Similarly, some argue that space has been militarised and some argue that it has not – once again without formal definition of “militarisation” of outer space, or explanation of the manner in which each author arrives at their conclusion. The foreword by Jessica T. Mathews asserts that space been neither militarised nor weaponised, a position at odds with many of the arguments presented within the book. Mathews writes that “if countries fail to find areas of cooperation, [there is a] growing threat of a space arms race.” and yet does not describe examples of international cooperation in outer space such as the International Space Station, as cited by Babintsev. So overall the book is not without flaws, but it is a concise and refreshing approach to the topic. The positive contribution that the book makes to the academic literature will ensure it a place on the shelves of professional and postgraduate students alike. The authors write well and in the main present effectively researched arguments. Maria Pozza Faculty of Law, University of Otago, New Zealand E-mail address: [email protected] Available online 22 October 2011