Nina Tannenwald

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The future of peace and security in outer space is at a critical juncture. The legal regime that guides commercial, military, and scientific activities in space is fragmented and increasingly inadequate to meet the challenges posed by the growing number of actors seeking to exploit space. The most serious challenge to the space regime is posed by the stated intent of the George W. Bush administration to pursue national dominance in space, which may eventually include stationing weapons there. Although space is already militarized to some degree-that is, used for military support purposes-no nation has yet placed weapons in space. Such a move would cross an important and longstanding threshold, likely provoking a battle for national superiority in space dominated by the United States. It would seriously undermine the current legal order in space that is widely supported by the rest of the world. The deployment of ground-based antisatellite (ASAT) weapons would also constitute a serious departure from the current regime. Without a concerted effort to develop a more comprehensive legal regime for space that will limit unconstrained weaponization, the international community will likely face a new military competition in space, with destabilizing consequences for national and global security. Such a competition will place at risk existing military, commercial, and scientific activities.

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