The last quarter century has seen the United States leading other nations in developing space technology and exploration of outer space. The world’s superpower has played key role in the establishment of an international legal regime to promote the use of outer space for peaceful purposes and ensuring all countries benefited, irrespective of their economic status and degree of technological advancement. With the aid of bilateral and multilateral agreements program for science and applications, United States has also helped other nations develop their own abilities to exploit the benefits of the outer space usage.
However, since the beginning of last decade, the use of outer space has drastically changed, with many nations including China joining United States in the business. At present, United States’ leadership in outer space activities has changed as a result of two paradoxical reasons: The first being an increased privatization of space that has led to space militarization; and secondly, the process of militarization has created a scenario where only a few nations are able to own it (Morgan 318). That is, many nations now depend on a few powerful ones with the means to exploit the outer space technology, subsequently leading to a form of economic dependency. This kind of association has helped countries like United States to pursue their own national objectives such as strengthening military initiatives, both nationally and internationally (Morgan 318). The two phenomena have raised concerns, as powerful nations with outer space military ability disregard international treaties and agreements to pursue their own interests, irrespective of the imminent risks as far as environmental consequences are concerned. That is to say, of all the most worrying concerns, the environmental impact of these activities has generated a lot of debate in the recent past.
It is generally accepted that United States depends on the outer space more than any other nation. However, this does not mean that all the international laws should be made in their favor. That is, not all international laws and treaties signed should be based on United States’ national interest. Apart from the military threat space militarization pause to the international community, space competition phenomenon means that the issues of trans-boundary environmental effects brings a major threat to the wellbeing of the people around the globe, given the limitless effect of environmental pollution and natural resource degradation. Despite this awareness, the issue has not received much attention at the international level as far as implementations of the laws, treaties, and agreements are concerned. Many scholars and general observers have attributed these failures to the weaknesses in international legal instruments designed to deal with the problems of environmental degradation (Roberts 49; Porter 2). That is, the legal instruments have loopholes that nations can exploit and still make legitimate claim that they are acting within the legal provisions as prescribed in the international laws, treaties and agreements.
For instance, the world activities were adversely affected and operations of radio and television broadcasting signals were accidentally lost when China tested its missile in the outer space in 2007 (Potter 3). This invoked a stack reality of what such activities could do to the whole world. Surprisingly, no one expected the impact of such an action to be massive as it was considered a mere single unit unable to pause any threat to the world systems e.g. disabling American communication satellites. One could therefore imagine other impacts that a similar event could cause to the environment. In other words, China brought to the test the reality of what could happen with increased arms race when they tested their missile into one of the weather satellites. This event raised eyebrows to the possibility of these facts, which have been assumed for quite a long time. Subsequently, many started questioning the effectiveness of legal instruments in protecting environment and people. In fact, the debate re-emerged on how United States should be prepared for possible space warfare (Potter 4). Since America heavily rely on the satellite technology, they were likely to justify their intention to learn and test what China did to accomplish the feat, and more categorically, learn how to protect its satellites from possible space attacks.
The goal of this paper is to analyze the current regime and proposed legislation and treaties aimed at addressing the militarization of outer space. It will also attempt to address the issues of weather modification, earthquake triggering, electromagnetic weapons, and other emerging types of warfare that I will collectively refer to as “Eco and Space Warfare.” After the background discussion, I will attempt to reevaluate and reconcile the current landscape of relevant law, while analyzing the ramifications of such policies from an environmentalist point of view. Thus, the goal of the paper will be to determine in which direction future legislation should progress in order to insure the greatest benefit to the environment and to all of humanity.
Current Rules of Armed Conflict pertaining to Outer Space and Weather/Environment Modification
The recent military activities have re-ignited a long standing debate relating to the effectiveness of international, regional and national legal instruments designed to protect outer space, with the popular belief that these laws are never adequate to handle the concerns adequately and appropriately (Roberts 49; Fenrick 129). The existing legal frameworks have given many optional provisions meant to protect environment, either directly or indirectly during the armed space conflicts. However, the provisions have proved to be ineffective in a number of occasions as far as enforcement and implementation is concerned. While the international community under the umbrella of United Nations has sought to make countries and individuals accountable for their activities in the outer space during war, the result of this effort has been visibly poor (Lubell 859). There is only one notable case that somewhat proved successful; that of Iraq being put to task to account for the damages caused during the Persian Gulf War. This case led to Iraq being forced to compensate for the damages it caused to the environment, which was worth billions of dollars (Lubell 860).
Several laws, treaties and agreements have been made to ensure the outer space is protected from harm due to these military activities. At the national level, United States has approached the monitoring of its combat capability through its “Air Force Weather Agency” which helps it to deliver accurate, reliable and timely state of the environment in the world over (Lord 12). This helps its Air Force, the Army, joint fighters, national intelligence group and Defense Secretary to monitor their activities, including state of environment (Lord 14).
In this view, the most important approach to analyze space activities is by first having a critical overview of the United Nations Outer Space Treaty of 1967. This treaty lays down a framework with a universal declaration that nations have “freedom of scientific investigation in outer space” and that no ownership can be claimed on such space objects like moon, hence the idea that all the space natural resources shall be shared equally among nations (Gasser 637; Firestone 764).
There are significant restrictions on the application of military activities to the outer space, particularly in the article three and four. In the article three, it is stated that nations must only conduct space activities when they intend to bring peace and security around the world. Article is more categorical on the space weapons, stating that no nations should place any weapon of mass destruction within the space objects, as these objects should only be used for peaceful activities and for the benefit of all human kind (Stoullig 5). In essence, this prohibits even testing of any weapon on to the outer space, thus leaving purposefully for ‘scientific research’ only (Stoullig 5).
Principally, there are two areas to note in these statutes. The first being the meaning of ‘peaceful purpose’ that only restricts such activities on the moon and other celestial bodies. In fact, US’s interpretation of article four clearly states that a nation can engage on a space activity as long as it is not carried out on a celestial body (Salin 20; Stoullig 7). But logically, the limitation of the space activity does clearly indicate that it is not broad enough to justify its usage. The second is the interpretation of the term ‘peaceful purposes’. Basically, this phrase is not easy to interpret as it has no express definition. Many have voiced their interpretation to extend it to the outer space, to mean that any form of military activity in the space may still be in violation of the treaty. However, the official interpretation means that the outer space cannot be used to launch full-scale warfare especially that which involve nuclear weapons (Wilson 210). This leaves other areas such as the use of military space to target other issues like communication, collecting of intelligence matters, and the targeting of precision, which are mainly considered peaceful as they are assumed not to interfere with other international laws that govern the outer space operations. This may mean that as long as operations are peaceful, and do not involve any form of aggression, the outer space still open for usage as a channel for warfare activities. It’s thus critical to note that the treaty does not prohibit the use of both anti-satellite (ASAT) and nuclear weapons. Consequently, deployment of any weapon into the space can be carried out as long as it does not entail weapon of mass destruction, and that self defense is permitted as long as they do not interfere with other sections of the international treaty.
Conversely, the treaty has a provision that protects any state’s activities and offers some response to a state that interferes with any other state’s space activities (Douglas 41). In the article six and seven, states are liable for any activities they conduct on the outer space; no matter what part of the government agency has conducted such an activity or what body as long as the said organization is within the jurisdiction of that particular state (Lubell 863). Article nine is the section that touches most on the environment. It states that every state venturing on an outer space activity should avoid any form of environmental destabilization in terms of harmful contamination of the outer space (Lubell 863). It therefore states that if a state is aware that its activities are likely to cause some harmful effect to the environment, it must strive to take appropriate action trough international consultations before going ahead with such an initiative. Moreover, article ten gives states authority to request opportunity to observe each others activities in the space. Further, article twelve gives the United Nations power to inspect the activities on the space, but fails to provide any solution especially if two nations cannot come to agreement on the use, responsibility of effects and protection of the outer space.
The Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (1977) and other treaties
It is evident that these sections of the treaty have inherent weaknesses in terms of unclear definition of terms and inadequate mechanism for enforcement. Some of these weaknesses are however taken care of in the United Nations’ Liability Convention. The convention handles some of these issues by expanding on how and at what level the nation in question should be considered accountable whenever its outer space activities interferes with the wellbeing of other nations (Limperis 330; Lubell 864)
The first article of the convention requires that a state should be held responsible for loss of life, personal injury or damages caused to the environment through outer space activities. At the same time, it reinforces the treaty provision that all the entities in a nation that contravene the laws makes the latter liable for the damages caused by such actions (Firestone 764). The other sections of the convention gives procedures that states which have been aggrieved to make claim for the damages they have met as a result of another’s space activity. From article nine to fifteen, it’s stated that any claim by a nation for offence must be presented within one year of the occurrence through the available “diplomatic means” (Firestone 764). If the feuding states do not find a solution, they are given opportunity to form a joint commission, which is tasked with the identification of amount of damages as outlined by the international law. The aim of this approach is to compensate and restore the injured state to its original condition.
Although this convention has sorted out some of the ambiguous nature of the treaty, it still has a lot of loopholes. The first complication is the definition of ‘object’, as a part of the ‘component parts’, which does not specifically state whether debris caused by such activities will form part of the launching state’s liability. So it can be interpreted to mean that state that has launched space activities that leads to the falling of debris or cause earth triggering objects to fall are not likely to be held liable for their activities as this is outside the ‘object’ definition. The second concern is the fact that although the convention has clause that imposes a ‘fault’ standard to define the amount of damage, it fails to define the level of care that should be taken in the period of launch. Likewise, if there is a collision between two space objects, the two owners may have different views on what they did or the level of precaution they took to handle the situation. That is, while one a state may reason that they took all the necessary precautions during the entire process, the injured state may claim that that is not true, hence creating precedence where the feud continues. The other weakness is based on the difficulty to prove the offence since at times the specific debris or object that caused damage may be difficult to trace, as Douglas (79) convincingly argue that just a mere fact the objects collided does not put the country that created the debris at fault in anyway. The last concern revolves around the fact that there’s no established mechanism that guide the implementation of the conventions. Douglas (80) equips, “the convention’s litigation mechanism have never been applied anywhere, hence putting their effectiveness to doubt”.
Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC)
The last body of law to be considered in this analysis is the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) (Roberts 58). This law governs the criteria in which nations may involve themselves in a war. In other words, it defines particular limits in which nations may participate in conflict related matters. That is when, how and to what level a nation should be involved in a war-like activity, including space war; the amount of force to be used; and what to target (Roberts 58). However, many of these LOAC principles are not applicable to the satellite or space strikes.
The other aspect of the LOAC principle is the proportionality of military attacks, that is, there should be a clear understanding of the proportional impact of such strikes. For example, the damages must be compared to the gain from the intended action. The principle is outlined in the added Geneva Convention’s protocol 1 (Roberts 59). It prohibits any form of attack that is likely to cause some harm or loss of civilian’s life or lead to an adverse injury to the civilian’s property. It therefore follows that direct attack that causes any form of catastrophic property or human harm is treated as illegal and tantamount to legal consequences.
Another loosely relevant principle is that of discrimination in the process of attack. This principle states that attackers should learn to separate between military and non-military objects for attack (Salin 21). It states that the attack should be strictly to “…those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage” (Salin 23). Some of these prohibited areas are property belonging to civilian and civilians themselves, cultural places, important environmental sites such as strategically important water body.
However, discrimination is one principle that has proved very difficult to implement. This is because some objects have both military and non-military use, hence distinguishing them may be confusing. Such places like airport and communication sites are both important for the civilians and the military people and any attack to such sites will definitely affect the civilians who were not expressly targeted.
The Customary International Law
The existing international legal framework has several weaknesses and gaps. To understand these legal provisions and their weaknesses, it is important to take a review of the main parts of the customary international law that are meant to offer protection to the environment during armed conflicts in the outer space. These provisions under the customary international law were created from “a general and consistent practice of states followed by them from a sense of legal obligation” (Kelly 450). In this practice, it is evident that there is a need for two main factors to help constitute a binding rule. The first factor is objectivity, which relies on an empirical finding of an all inclusive as well as long standing concordant practices of the state; and secondly, the subjectivity factor that reflects a pattern of practice together with a sense of obligation instead of the usual non-binding habit that is normally accompanied by the political convenience (Kelly 450). In fact, there should never be a serious concern about the requirement that all nations express unanimous behavior towards this rule, but the more states who would be ready to do so, the better (Kelly 451). Through this, the states that are considered ‘leading’- the most affected or commited to regular engagement on the activities will get extra attention in terms of what they do or practice (Kelly 453). In fact, the provision that a nation need to have committed ‘long standing’ activities towards the destruction of space stability gives room for one to argue in defense of the offender, hence tampering with its effectiveness. For instance, if states have developed strong and genuine commitment, supported by deep and wide-spread beliefs, the short term duration of the activities may be forgiven, giving nations at fault unnecessary advantage to claim innocence (Hulme 31; Kelly 454).
In the assessment of a states’ relevant behavior, it’s important to analytically check at the actions as well as words, and that any form of inaction or silence, particularly that which is deliberate will mean unwillingness to comply. It is realized that most nations have their international-related behaviors made by the executive branch of the government. However, the appropriate states will have both the judicial and legislative arms of the government participating and contributing to the process (McCarthy 181).
In the subjective aspect of creating customary international law, one aspect is evident: it is observable that a particular pattern of behavior contributes towards the articulation of a new norm, mainly when a country practices and follows the laid down law as an obligation. This is because a problem may arise if the country in question merely acts in accordance to their voluntary willingness, from where they can change and depart without any legal international liability being laid on them, hence rendering the law impotent (Douglas 59).
Past Uses of Eco and Space Warfare
Historically, the word environment did not appear anywhere near the law of war treaty before 1977. The chemical weapon emergence brought a lot of scare to humanity. It has been wielded by the military even as civilians panicked due to its long term and adverse effect to humanity. The international law has made several attempts to reverse the trend of chemical weapon usage since the 1925 Geneva Protocol (Bruch 112). Despite the handful of treaties being put in place for implementation, manufacturing and testing continued unabated. Many nations made their intentions clear that they were not afraid of using the treaties, presumably after assessing their weaknesses and concluding that it would not deter them from pursuing their goals (Bruch 113). Meanwhile, several nations declared that they would not be using the chemicals, despite manufacturing of thousands of tones before 1977. This was evident even after the end of World War II, when massive piles of weapons were manufactured and stored for unclear purpose. However, partial intention was exposed when chemical weapons were used extensively in wars involving Egypt and Yemen in 1960s. Others that followed in the 1980s were the war between Chad and Libya, and that between Iraq and Iran (Bruch 112).
The role of The Department of Defense
Department of defense has a role to play in the prevention of arms race in the outer space. Many member states of the United Nations have expressed their concern on the increased militarization of the outer space as it is seen as the beginning of arms race with inherent consequences to humanity and environment as a whole. This has led to an increased call for a multilateral treaty that would encompass all the nations of the world, thereby creating a possibility of an agreement on the limitation to such acts that are likely to fuel arm’s race. For example, in 2006, Russia presented an argument that if every state observed the laid down prohibition on militarization of the space, the possibility of arms race will not just be minimized but will be completely eliminated (Potter 69). This view has also been supported by China, who believes that when an obligation is placed such that no use of force or threat is allowed in the outer space through weapon placement, the projected risks will be diminished (Potter 69).
Through its Department of Defense, the United States has decided to develop space weapons and further increase its investments in the military complex venture in the recent past. The department of defense requested for more funds from the annual budget in 2008 to increase their budget by over one billion dollars (McCarthy 181). The increased activities of the United States in the outer space through the Department of Defense have presented a worrying trend to the outer space safety as far as long term impacts on environment is concerned. Moreover, the long standing notion that war is highly profitable venture is yet to be erased. This is a motivating factor for these nations to continue with space activities. This was vividly reflected in 2003 when United States’ Air Force Space Command made statement on Strategic Master Plan of 2003: “the ability to gain space superiority is critically important and maintaining space superiority is an essential prerequisite in modern warfare” (McCarthy 183). In this statement, it could be interpreted to mean that superiority is based on the military warfare in space, particularly the satellite. Satellite is useful in the intelligence process, remote sensing, and navigation. It is therefore possible to state that United States, through its Department of Defense has played a major role in outer space warfare activities. This has been backed by the political assertions on the importance of such space ventures, as reflected by the Bush Administration. While United States is striving to protect its own space assets, they are likely to interfere with other countries rights of space ownership, as many see this as key to their dominance.
Space Preservation Acts of 2001, 2002, and 2005
This act states the need to ban all the actions of United States to place any form of weapon into the space. It requires that for the need to cooperate and enhance peaceful coexistence, the space must be preserved for the entire human kind to benefit in a sustainable manner, with no placing of weapons into the outer space (McCarthy 186). It also requires the president of the United States to take actions in the adoption and implementation of the world treaty that ban space-based weapons in totality.
It is universally accepted that weapons placed on space are likely to destroy strategic balance of the environment and stability, hence undermine the natural flow of ecosystems. This is particularly true to those which are linked to nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and missiles (Bird 785). However, the withdrawal of the United States from the Treaty of Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001 has caused many nations to worry (Bird 785). After this withdrawal, US resorted to making of “ground- and sea- based missile defense”, which has caused countries like Russia to advance their intensions for arms race in the future (Bird 786; Bruch 49). These activities are likely to cause the two countries to reject any attempt to reduce arms race or limited efforts to support the enactment of a new treaty. China will also want to continue building the warheads that would help them maintain the nuclear deterrent, which is likely to provoke countries like Pakistan and India to do the same, subsequently leading to series of arms race activities (Bruch 49).
The Space Preservation Acts of 2002 and 2005 also have the same depth as that of 2001 (Bird 787) as far as space protection is concerned. The act states that in order to preserve the cooperation and peace in the use of space, the priority should be to preserve all human kind by banning placement of any form of weapons into the space and the subsequent use of weapons for the destruction or damaging of natural objects in the space. In my critical view, United States’ initiative to place weapons in the space contravenes this act. Secondly, United States’ action will encourage other states to develop and place weapons in the outer space as away of showing their capability, subsequently leading to space militarization intensification.
Moreover, United States has attempted to increase the globalization of debris mitigation initiatives through its “Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee” (Bird 788). However, this initiative is not legally binding as it only requires mutual acceptance to adopt the guidelines. In fact, the guidelines have no recommendation section on how various governments should act to enforce them; neither do they show how nations should act to the process of launching and approval.
The Global Security Institute and the Institute for Cooperation in Space
The collaboration between Global Security Institute and the Institute for Cooperation in Space is meant to spearhead the need for cooperation in the space preservation and push for treaty initiated by the United Nations to be signed (Chavanne 211). The other goal is to ensure the establishment of an independent Outer Space Peace Keeping Agency that would help in the enforcement of the ban (Chavanne 211). The overall outcome of this initiative would be a total ban on all weapons intended for space activities, which would put a stop on war industry before its is extended to the space; transformation of all war in the space industry to meet sustainability and peace criteria; speed up cooperation in space research, developing, and exploring and boosting habitat growth for sustainable and unlimited opportunities in space (Chavanne 212). Some of these inherent opportunities have been identified as solutions to potential problems to humanity and environment.
This collaboration is motivated by the fact that humans have realized their survival require peace and sustainable environment, taking into consideration the time limit as a factor that come with it. Like it happened in the U.N. Outer Space Treaty of 1967, the Space Preservation Treaty offers the provision that once five signatories have been found for ratification, it begins operational. It is now upon the UN member states that have pended their signature to the document to invite other states to join (Chavanne 212). Notably, all these initiatives are bold steps in ensuring the respective governments abide by the legal provisions guiding outer space preservation for sustainable human survival.
Privatization and Corporatization of Space
In the recent past, there has been an increased privatization of the outer space due to the increased commercial benefits. Even though many nations admit that increasing space activities through increased military actions is affecting the development of peace process, where anti-war satellites are attacked with s pace-based offensive weapons, the economic value of this venture has continued to spur the growth of this sector (Morgan 319). This has considerably interfered with the disarmament process, creating a scenario where commercial goals supersede environmental welfare goals, thus jeopardizing treaty making and signing process.
In fact, it has been identified that the main problem is the increased space militarization with commercial goals, considered as exotic and risky. This makes many advanced nations like United States to be reluctant to the provision requiring investment of billions of dollars on new projects that would see space preservation (Chavanne 42). In essence, this commercial expansion is predicted to dominate the space activities despite their adverse long term negative impacts they pose to the environmental stability. Notably, the European and American space companies are more likely to be affected as they rely a lot on space business. To stump this phenomenon, it is critical if the laws and appropriate treaties are put in place to assist in reversing the trend.
The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) and other global-impact programs
HAARP as a program was developed to help study the scientific aspect of the ionosphere (Begich 249). However, its application is found to impact on the environment and several studies have suggested that it be monitored to deter the adverse potential effect it pauses (Begich 251). Currently, it is widely used by military institutions, with the probability of transforming it to energy producing gadget, with very minimal upgrade. To attest to this reality, a major military unit in America currently holds the patent to its production (Begich 251). According to Begich (253) there is a need to form an independent review to ascertain its actual possible dangers in military and other projects applications. In effect, there’s a need to make the committee independent from the federal politics of the United States, to ensure non inference in the investigation.
However, attempts to develop proper understanding of such programs are negated due to high stake placed on the issue by huge and divergent political interests. United States in effect has limited its intentions to reduce involvement in such programs, further creating more tensions and unwillingness of other nations to adopt the agreements and treaties. United relies on the belief that such a proposal will limit its rights to research and development activities for the national interest.
The potential for misuse and large-scale effects on the ionosphere
The potential for misuse of space freedom is enormous (Salin 22). There are possibilities of several attacks from ASAT weapons; there is also the possibility of detonated nuclear generating an electromagnetic pulse, which could possibly disable the sensitive rotation of the satellites that have not been shielded in a wider range of space; outer space mines have a possibility of exploding within a particular range from the satellite, hence interfering with its functionality; and a space laser or a weapon with energy component has a possibility of damaging the components of a satellite, which include optical capability or solar panels (Salin 22). These impacts render the value of ionosphere useless as the radio waves important for transfer of information are interfered with or destroyed.
The most recent case is that of China’s testing of ASAT that created a new model of another possibility of outer space attack. Unlike the initially tested one by the United States which relied in explosion, China’s Kinetic energy weapon solely depends on the impact of its movement. It has astronomical speed of approximately 17,500 miles/hour, making it the fastest human created object to be launched into the space (Bruch 59). In fact, with such a speed, even the smallest of all objects have the capability of causing serious damage to any object it comes into contact with (Bruch 59). This object was tested about 500 miles above the surface of the earth, close to the United States’ satellites. If such close proximity accidentally collided, a serious communication problems would adversely affect the whole world. The other main concern is the possibility of debris fall. When it was tested, the explosion caused a massive shockwave that was felt on both the satellites and the missiles, creating huge debris of clouds in the space (Bruch 59). According to Bruch (60) although some clouds of debris are likely to fall back onto the earth, a bigger percentage would remain into the space longer, thus heightening the global warming. Moreover, many of the particles may be quite small and invisible making them difficult to track, subsequently putting to massive risks those satellites that are not able to shield themselves.
China’s reaction to the international accusations that it breached international law was defensive; they categorically stated that their actions were within the law. In fact, it is possible to agree with China that they completely acted within the international legal provisions on space activities. First, the test did not violate any of the present international treaty on outer space, which has a provision that all nations do have equal rights to explore space for the purpose of peace. In deed the loopholes in the treaties would give China opportunity to argue that they were conducting this particular test for their own scientific as well defensive reasons, which is expected to make it more peaceful as provided for by the treaty statutes.
In deed the only section of the treaty that could hold China accountable is that their actions could have contaminated the atmosphere, against the prohibition Article nine. But still this accusation is open to argument, as the interpretation may be open to any party’s point of view. For example, within the treaty, the statement, “harmful contamination” has no express definition, giving China room to argue that no immediate harm was caused to the atmosphere as some of the debris would fall back to the earth much later.
Again, the Liability Convention is also of little assistance. This is because if this debris end up damaging the asset of another nation, their arguments may take the position that they are not at ‘fault’ as outlined in the Convention, as they could have not accurately estimated the prediction on the amount of debris that their action would have created.
From the analysis presented, it is evident that international space laws and treaties present only diplomatic approaches to deter future militarization of space. The first is the Outer Space Treaty that allows feuding parties to consult with each other, so as to establish whether one party is actually interfering with another’s space activities or not. The second is that which gives another state authority to inspect what other states are doing, i.e. to establish if the actions are in accordance with the laid down agreements in the treaty. However, none of the provision will expressly stop any nation from testing its weapons in future. It means that the treaties only allows for mutual agreement to inspect one another’s space activities.
The space preservation act seems to offer the best alternative in the arguments presented. As has been noted, the obligation to protect space or environment in general needs to focus both on the legal and practical environment perspective so as to refrain nations from developing arms race mentality. The legal necessity is reinforced by the mutual need to keep space safe and sustainable for future use. It’s acknowledged that nations have their right to self-defense, without compromise. However, the Space Preservation Act provides an alternative that would stop a nation from acting negatively in the name of self-defense. For example, United States and China will be bound by the section of the international law to protect environment.
This approach, which some have referred to as Customary International Law, will helps restrain the activities on the outer space, thus the possibility of diverting the traditional attention placed on security aspect as the only motivating factor. Although environmental law is a relatively new discipline, it has made some inroads in the assertion that states should not explore space in a manner that would inflict injury to the environment.
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