Background: ASAT Test
- On March 27, India became the 4th country after US, China, Russia, to test the Anti-Satellite missile capability under Mission Shakti.
- The ASAT test demonstrated India’s capability to destroy a satellite in the low earth orbit using a missile.
India’s position on weaponisation of outer space
- India in principle opposes the weaponsiation of space.
- Party to Outer Space Treaty
- India became a party to Outer Space Treaty, 1967 when it ratified the agreement in 1982
- While Outer Space Treaty advocates the peaceful use of outer space, it does not prevent arms race in space.
- India has been pushing for an international binding agreement to prevent arms race in space.
- The Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) is a UN resolution that bans weaponisation of space.
- However it is yet to see the light of the day due to opposition from US and Israel.
- UNGA 69/33
- UNGA resolution 69/32 deals with the ‘No First Placement of Weapons on Outer Space’.
- India supports UNGA 69/32 but sees it only as an interim measure.
- China and Russia have presented a draft treaty on “prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, and the prevention of the threat or use of force in outer space” (PPWT).
- India has welcomed the treaty.
- India’s response to Chinese ASAT test in 2007
- India had responded to Chinese ASAT test in 2007 reiterating that such tests undermine the process of arriving at a longstanding international consensus on peaceful uses of outer space.
Justification of ASAT Test
- Despite the aforesaid position of India on weaponisation of Outer Space and its peaceful use, India conducted the ASAT test for the following reasons.
Deterrence to Emerging space threat
- India’s space assets under the INSAT, IRS, IRNSS systems are significant for socio-economic development of the country.
- China has developed counter-space capabilities in response to US’s efforts.
- Thus ASAT test signifying the embryonic counter-space capability of India is a necessity to protect the space assets we have thus acting as a deterrent to any threat to them.
Absence of binding international agreement
- The logjam over PAROS and PPWT treaties has necessitated India to build a deterrent.
- The absence of a binding international agreement over weaponisation of space necessitated building of counter-space capability lest it will lead to lopsided balance of power.
- This view is shared by France which stands against destabilized arms race in space and peaceful use of outer space.
Note: In an earlier article we have comprehensively covered ASAT test under Mission Shakti.