Bush May Give Pentagon
OK To Weaponize Space
By Ryan Jones
The new space policy in the United States might see President George W Bush allow the Pentagon greater authority to deploy space-based weapons, media reports have quoted sources in administration and defence experts as saying. According to reports, the new policy, being jointly drafted by the Defence Department, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and others, might see the proliferation of offensive weapons in space.
Issued by former US president Bill Clinton in 1996, the policy first aimed at using satellites for defensive purposes like keeping an eye on disarmament pacts and environmental cleanups. But security officials showed concerns about the chances of military and global communications satellites being attacked by enemy nations and said that with more nations launching satellites, the development of space weapons might not be far behind.
But industry watchers have warned such a move by United States might actually result in an arms race with China, Russia, and other countries. According to sources, the US already possesses the blueprints for space-based weapon systems and if such a policy comes through, the creation of such weapons might take as little as 18 months. Space weapons include small satellites attacking other satellites, and laser and radio waves weapons as also small planes that drop destructive material on ground targets.
"It certainly has the potential to be a significant moment if the US embraces a policy that advocates space weapons. That contributes to other states being interested," warned said Karl Mueller, a defence policy analyst at Rand Corp, a firm handling research for the government.
His contentions are echoed by Theresa Hitchens, president, Center for Defense Information. "I fear it is going to change the direction of US space policy that has been steady since Eisenhower was president. Up to now, this has been a campaign by the Air Force to have the freedom to do what they want to do in space. This will, for the first time in US history, give them the go-ahead," she said, adding, "Let's think of a world where US has 'death stars' everywhere in space that are going over countries every 10 minutes. Do you think other countries are going to accept that?"
However, the White House has denied trying to 'weaponize space'. "Let me make that clear right off the top, because you asked about the weaponization of space, and the policy that we're talking about is not looking at weaponizing space," said Scott McClellan, President Bush's media secretary.
However, he added, "Certainly during the last eight or nine years, there have been a number of domestic and international developments that have changed the threats and challenges facing our space capabilities. There are countries that have taken an interest in space. They have looked at technologies that could threaten our space systems and so you obviously need to take that into account when you,re updating the policy." McClellan said that the US believed in 'the peaceful exploration of space'.



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