Using Diplomacy to Advance the Long-Term Sustainability and Security of the Outer Space Environment

Remarks by Frank A. Rose
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance

International Symposium on Ensuring Stable Use of Outer Space: Enhancing Space Security and Resiliency
Tokyo, Japan
March 3, 2016

As prepared

Thank you for that kind introduction. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Japan as well as the Japan Space Forum for bringing me here today and for once again providing me with the opportunity to speak about ensuring the long-term sustainability and stability of the space environment. As always, I appreciate Japan’s strong focus on these important issues, as well as its exceptional hospitality.

My remarks today will focus on two broad areas: first, multilateral space cooperation; and second, U.S.-Japan space cooperation in the context of the alliance. But before I dive into these areas, I would like to step back for a moment to briefly examine the overarching strategic context of today’s space environment which is driving our diplomatic efforts.

Space’s Strategic Context

Today’s space environment is evolving rapidly. This evolution is being driven by numerous factors, including: lower barriers to entry, and the acquisition of space capabilities for the first time by a host of new actors, including the private sector; advances in technology, including computing and analytics, that enable new concepts of operations and architectures; international space cooperation on a multitude of initiatives; the growth in orbital debris and the accompanying hazard such debris presents; and deepening reliance upon space capabilities across a range of activities..

The United States in particular is deeply reliant upon space. While such reliance enables the United States and our allies and partners to undertake a range of operations in support of peace and security, this reliance has increasingly been viewed by potential adversaries as a vulnerability to be exploited through the development of counterspace capabilities.

To quote from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence’s recent Worldwide Threat Assessment, “Foreign military leaders understand the unique advantages that space-based systems provide to the United States. Russia senior leadership probably views countering the US space advantage as a critical component of warfighting…Russia and China are also employing more sophisticated satellite operations and are probably testing dual-use technologies in space that could be applied to counterspace missions. …We already face a global threat from electronic warfare systems capable of jamming satellite communications systems and global navigation space systems…Russian defense officials acknowledge that they have deployed radar-imagery jammers and are developing laser weapons designed to blind US intelligence and ballistic missile defense satellites…Russia and China continue to pursue weapons systems capable of destroying satellites on orbit, placing US satellites at greater risk in the next few years… China has probably made progress on the antisatellite missile system that it tested in July 2014.”

In order to address such counterspace threats, we are pursuing a strategy that leverages all elements of national policy, including diplomatic tools, in order to prevent conflict from extending into space. We are carrying out such diplomacy at multiple levels simultaneously, including in multilateral fora and with our allies and partners, including Japan.

Multilateral Cooperation

Multilaterally, we are working to develop norms of responsible behavior in outer space in order to prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and miscalculations. As part of this effort, we are continuing to emphasize the development of transparency and confidence-building measures, or TCBMs. Why the focus on space TCBMs? Simply put, it is because TCBMs offer the most pragmatic, voluntary, near-term, and achievable tools for enhancing the long-term sustainability and security of the space environment by addressing some of the urgent challenges that all of us face, especially in the area of long-lived space debris. The creation and implementation of pragmatic and near-term TCBMs can encourage responsible actions in, and the peaceful use of, space, as well as promote greater mutual understanding among space actors and reduce tensions.

While some countries have instead called for pursuing a legally-binding treaty on the placement of weapons in outer space, various proposals to date, including the most recent draft Treaty on the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, or PPWT, remain fundamentally flawed. While I will not dwell on the PPWT today, I will briefly note that the revised version from June 2014 still does not successfully address the challenges of verification, scope, and the most pressing and existing threats to space security.

Nevertheless, I would like to point out that the United States is not opposed to space arms control agreements in principle. Indeed, as the U.S. National Space Policy makes clear, “[t]he United States will consider proposals and concepts for arms control measures if they are equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the national security of the United States and its allies.” Furthermore, we believe that it is not in the international community’s interest to engage in a space weapons arms race; indeed, our efforts are aimed at preventing conflict from extending into space.

One promising area of TCBMs is the continued implementation of the recommendations of the UN Group of Governmental Experts, or GGE, study of TCBMs. The 2013 GGE report, which was later endorsed by consensus by the UN General Assembly, highlighted the importance of voluntary, non-legally binding TCBMs to strengthen stability in space. We continue to encourage all states to review and implement, to the greatest extent practicable, the full range of recommendations in the 2013 consensus Report. As the U.S. expert on the GGE, I attach great importance to its implementation.

A second promising area is the important work being done in the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, or COPUOS, on the development of new international long-term sustainability, or LTS, guidelines. Under the capable chairmanship of Peter Martinez of South Africa, the COPUOS Working Group has identified areas of consensus as well as remaining areas of disagreement. We hope to work constructively with all COPUOS participants in Vienna to complete work on consensus guidelines for long-term sustainability of outer space activities in 2016. The effort on the LTS guidelines is mutually reinforcing with the implementation of the GGE’s recommendations, as the LTS guidelines can lay the foundation for additional TCBMs.

Another promising area is our work in this region, in concert with Japan, Australia, and others, to advance TCBMs in the ASEAN Regional Forum, or ARF. We recognize the rapid emergence of a range of Asia-Pacific nations in space and continue to attach great importance to this particular forum, which reflects the diversity and energy of the region. We have already co-hosted two ARF Workshops on Space Security, including one with Japan and Indonesia in 2014 here in Tokyo. We will continue to stay engaged in this important regional forum, and our hope that the ARF Workshops will in the future yield potential TCBMs for the region to consider.

Space Cooperation in the U.S.-Japan Alliance 

Now, I would like to turn my attention to U.S.-Japan space cooperation in the context of the Alliance. The continued strengthening of our Alliance cooperation in this area has been extraordinary over the past few years, proceeding both in parallel and in response to several important developments in the Alliance.

For example, since I last spoke at this Symposium, we have had Prime Minister Abe’s successful visit to the United States, the approval of the revised Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, and Japan’s release of its revised Basic Space Plan. As noted in the revised Guidelines, we will enhance space situational awareness, or SSA, cooperation as well as pursue opportunities for cooperation in use of space for maritime domain awareness, or MDA, and in strengthening the resiliency of space systems. I will address all three of these areas today.

First, SSA is a critical capability to help us achieve our goal of preventing conflict from extending to space in the first place. SSA helps contribute to a more comprehensive picture of what is transpiring in space and ensure the safety, sustainability, stability, and security of the space environment. We see opportunities for cooperation on SSA with other governments, nongovernmental and commercial space operators around the globe. Such cooperation on SSA is very important, as international partnerships bring resources, capabilities, and geographical advantages. To date, the United States has signed 12 SSA sharing agreements and arrangements with national governments and international intergovernmental organizations, and 51 with commercial entities, including Japan in 2013.

I welcome the progress that we have made towards two-way alliance sharing of SSA data since signing the initial SSA Memorandum of Understanding in 2013, although of course there is still much to do in order to operationalize two-way sharing. I know Major General Crosier will be speaking shortly, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing his thoughts on this. As always, we remain eager to support Japan as it continues to consider the future structure of its own SSA architecture under the Revised Basic Space Plan.

Second, we remain very interested in continuing to expand our whole-of-government cooperation on utilizing space systems for MDA. The importance of this area to the alliance is clear from its incorporation in the revised Guidelines, as well as other documents. I think that we have made a good start in advancing MDA cooperation in recent years, including with the first bilateral tabletop exercise in 2014. We are continuing to jointly consider our next steps in this evolving process of whole-of-government MDA cooperation.

And third, we want to strengthen our alliance cooperation on resiliency, which is one of the main subjects of this very Symposium. As many of the people in this room are aware, we have been spending a great deal of time thinking about what resiliency means in the space context, as have our Japanese allies. We continue to be interested in operationalizing the language in the revised Guidelines that calls for pursuing opportunities for cooperation “in space-related equipment and technology that will strengthen capabilities and resiliency of the space systems, including hosted payloads.” The ultimate goal of such efforts is to create an alliance architecture that is appropriately structured to render attacks against it ineffective.

Finally, I would like to briefly touch on U.S.-Japan space cooperation through dialogue and people-to-people exchanges. The first U.S.-Japan Space Security Dialogue was held in 2010, and since then our discussions on these issues have grown into one of the most important relationships we have with our Allies and partners on outer space security issues. The United States and Japan also have ongoing civil space dialogues. Due to the success and robustness of our space security and civil space dialogues, our governments have established a Comprehensive Dialogue on Space at the direction of President Obama and former Prime Minister Noda, in order to address the bilateral relationship at a strategic level and to ensure a whole-of-government approach to space matters. We have held three of these Comprehensive Dialogues to date. In addition, we have a defense-led Space Cooperation Working Group, which has now met twice.

With regard to people-to-people exchanges on space security, members of the Japanese Ministry of Defense have attended U.S. Air Force space training in Colorado Springs, and I expect that they will continue to do so in the future. A member of my own staff finished a year-long Mansfield Foundation fellowship on space policy within the Japanese government in 2014, and I will send another member of my staff later this year.

With that, I would like to conclude my remarks. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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