Cooperation Not Weaponization

An Address to the Conference:
"The Future of Space: Weaponization or Cooperation?"

By Senator Douglas Roche, O.C.
roched@sen.parl.gc.ca

Sponsored by:
Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities
Philadelphia Project for Global Security
Global Security Institute
Lawyers Alliance for World Security/PA Chapter

Philadelphia, December 1, 2001


This is a time when Canadians want to express their solidarity with the people of the United States. At this moment, several thousand Canadians are converging on New York for a weekend in the "Big Apple" not only to give a modest jolt to the economy but to make with one voice a clear, loud statement to terrorists everywhere: "You cannot win. We will overcome your violence with the driving, creative spirit of freedom."

Shortly after the terrible events of September 11, 2001, I myself went to New York, took the subway down to Wall Street, and walked to Liberty Square to see the devastation with my own eyes. The horror of what I saw imprinted on my mind a memory I will never forget, just as I have never forgotten the war-torn scenes of Europe immediately after World War II that I saw on my first trip to Europe.

My heart goes out to the victims, their families and friends, of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre. Neither do we forget the victims of the attack on the Pentagon.

After seeing the devastation in New York, I went to the United Nations and found officials there deeply concerned about the implications for humanity of the terrorist acts. Horrible as the attacks were, how much worse they would have been had the terrorists used weapons of mass destruction. It is no wonder that, immediately after the attacks, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on governments everywhere to "redouble" their efforts to fully implement the treaties that are intended to control and eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.

Terrorism has given us a jolt. Of course, the terrorists of September 11 must be apprehended and brought to international justice. The world is passing through a very difficult moment now to bring this about. But there is something we should remember. During the worst days of World War II, the Allied leaders, led by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, met to plan ways to lift the world away from the scourge of war. The result was the birth of the United Nations now the recipient, with Kofi Annan, of the Nobel Peace Prize, to provide a strengthened base for peace, development, equity and justice.

That was a turning point for the world which saw, for the first time, that the common management of problems was a better route to peace than reliance on militarism. We must use this new wrenching period we are passing through to think and act beyond the immediate crisis to build, under international law, a stable, enduring route to peace.

The defeat and apprehension of particular terrorists at a particular moment is not good enough. We can only truly conquer terrorism by putting into place the architecture for global security. This architecture cannot be developed by any one country acting alone. Terrorism has raised the stakes for all humanity. It is all humanity that is now engaged in joint survival.

The architecture has been slowly built over the past three decades. Its major features are well known: the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. These and other instruments provide a basis for international security. But the very measures of international law that have been painstakingly built are being challenged today. They are undermined, ignored and even rejected.

I believe September 11 should wake us up to realize that, together, the international community must work to strengthen international law for our joint survival.

This resolve is especially important as we look into the immediate future and consider the questions of the future of space. This conference is aptly titled: "Weaponization or Cooperation?"

Though I do not speak for the Government of Canada, let me tell you what concerns my government and, indeed, many thoughtful Canadians. We are extremely worried that the present U.S. Administration does not seek cooperation in determining the "rules of the road" for security but is instead determined to go its own way in determining what will constitute peace.

Though there are several current examples of the unilateralist approach favoured by the U.S. Administration, let me focus on just one: the intention of strong forces in the U.S. Government to link the missile defence program to the weaponization of space.

For three decades, Canada has resolutely opposed the weaponization of space. We consider the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits the orbiting of weapons of mass destruction about the Earth, to be patently inadequate in the light of modern technologies. The continuing advance of technology makes it possible to orbit conventional missile interceptors or exotic weapons based on other physical principles (such as space-based lasers) capable of harming both space-based and land-, sea- or air-based targets on or in flight above the Earth. Thus, Canada is working for a Convention for the Non-Weaponization of Outer Space. We have long called for an Ad Hoc Committee to be formed in the Conference on Disarmament with a mandate to negotiate such a convention.

Such an effort cannot be successful without the active involvement of the United States. But the U.S. refuses to support the U.N. and the C.D.'s efforts to start meaningful work on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. International efforts are unfortunately deadlocked.

We are entitled to ask: where is the U.S. going in space?

It is well understood that the military already is dependent on space for surveillance and communications. But the U.S. Administration would like to go further: putting targeting components and even directed energy or kinetic energy weapons on satellites. Space Command's Vision for 2020 calls for "full spectrum dominance," arguing that "the medium of space is the fourth medium of warfare along with land, sea and air." While the Rumsfeld Space Commission recognized that it was in the U.S. national interest to promote the peaceful uses of space, it concluded that the U.S. must ensure continuing superiority in space capabilities in order "both to deter and to defend against hostile acts in and from space," including "uses of space hostile to U.S. interests."

In Canada, we want to challenge the assumption that space ultimately will be weaponized, an assumption that provides some political elements in the U.S. with motivation to get there first. We want to help the U.S. realize that crossing the space threshold with arms will not be in the best long-term interests of U.S. national security. For such efforts will without doubt produce a new arms race not only in space but here on Earth. The world will become intolerably more dangerous if the heavens above are to be the battlefields of the future.

In Canada, we see the missile defence system as the first stage in this frightful scenario. What else are we to conclude when we note the U.S. announcement (July 17, 2001) that the research and development program for missile defence includes space-based lasers and interceptors required to protect the missile defence systems?

Let me repeat: in Canada, we seek a new international convention to prohibit all weapons in space and regulate space-related activities. This is certainly in the direct interest of U.S. commercial bodies, especially those that have made heavy financial investments in communications and other electronic measures through the string of satellites that people everywhere on Earth have become dependent on.

It is not unilateralism but full participation with the other leaders in the international community in building a body of effective law that can bring this about. But let us be frank here in the way that only a true friend can be frank the U.S. Administration must change its attitude towards international treaties to reach this goal. The attitude of the Administration towards the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is a case in point. Not only does the Administration refuse to re-submit the CTBT to the U.S. Senate for a second attempt at ratification (in an improved atmosphere), it has actually voted against even placing the CTBT on the agenda of next year's session of the U.N. General Assembly. The CTBT designed to shut off the future development of nuclear weapons by other countries cannot enter into force without the ratification of the U.S.

While Canada applauds the significant cut in U.S. strategic nuclear weapons offered by President Bush, we ask: what real contribution to nuclear disarmament is made when the U.S. pursues a missile defence system that will stimulate an arms race and prepare the way for the weaponization of space? It is not unilateral acts, however entrancing, that will secure international peace and security; rather it is negotiations to build a body of law that cannot be changed by political wish. The International Court of Justice has said that the legal provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty must be concluded. That means there is a legal obligation to negotiate the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Unilateral cuts must be followed by transparency and verification measures, which should be codified as part of the disarmament treaty process.

In Canada, we want to see the U.S. inside the CTBT, upholding the ABM Treaty and telling us, through its actions, that the U.S. will not extend its military dominance through the weaponization of space. We want very much to draw in the U.S. to engage in cooperative work to establish the legal basis for a genuine global security system. Together, Canada and the U.S. can work with other nations to seize this moment to render our troubled world a safer place. That is in all our interests.