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FAS Calls for Alternatives to Weapons in Space

FAS Calls for Alternatives to Weapons in Space

Author: Deborah Shapley

Type: FAS in the News

InsideDefense was among the media who covered the release today of Ensuring America's Space Security, the report on how the United States can best protect our satellites by the FAS Panel on Weapons in Space.

"The bottom line of the report is that, at least for the next five years, there is no legitimate national security justification for the United States to put weapons in space- that is, in orbit around the earth," Leonard Weiss the Panel chairman said at the briefing, according to the article by InsideDefense managing editor John Liang.

The article said why the FAS study was needed.

In January 2001, a commission led by Donald Rumsfeld warned of growing threats to U.S. space assets from so-called "rogue states." The commission cited the dangers of a Pearl Harbor-style attack in space. It recommended that the President be given the option of putting weapons in space to protect U.S. assets. The article noted that Rumsfeld, upon taking over as defense secretary, "put in place many of his commission's recommendations."

The article quoted Weiss as explaining that his FAS panel examined the arguments put forward by proponents of space weapons. "But in every case we identified alternative ways of mitigating vulnerabilities and addressing threats that, in our view, are superior to putting weapons in space," he said.

Weiss also asserted that none of Rumsfeld's space commission's fears had materialized. His panel asked, "Are weapons in space the best way of protecting those assets, recognizing that weaponizing space can bring unintended consequences, including the acceleration of weaponization by others"

Due to "uncertainties about the future," the FAS panel recommended that research and development on space weapons continue at an "appropriate level" to keep US options open. "But by 'appropriate,' we mean a level that does not create an unstoppable momentum toward deployment regardless of the need," Weiss explained.

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