Russia says private satellites could become 'legitimate target' during wartime

Aug 6, 2021
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Which, pardon my ($language_of_choice_usually_French) this argument is a load of codswallop and Bovine Scatology. The Soviet Union and the United States agreed in a number of negotiations known collectively as the Arms Control Talks of the 60s, 70s, 80s and so on, that "national technical means of verification" were inviolable; it is generally understood that national technical means of verification were "spy satellites". (Though sadly the various presidential administrations that negotiated these agreements, had the cowardice of their own convictions, and failed to publically declare this.) And the Kessler Cascade/Effect of cascading orbital debris from a strike on a satellite effectively extends that to all satellites. Viz the threat to the ISS from the ill-omened Russian strike of their satelite in the same orbit as the ISS. And thus Earth Orbit was effectively neutralized.

The situation is like, yet unlike the law as laid down in the Convention (XIII) concerning the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War. The Hague, 18 October 1907, which effectively prevents the use of weapons against satellites, whether "direct ascent" or "attack from orbit". To be brief, the Hague Convention prohibits the establishment and use of a belligerent's communications systems on a neutral's territory, yet the Arms Control regime mandates that.

I think the solution is that Earth Orbit is Neutral Territory, yet not a Neutral's territory. Russia and the United States and China and India and so on, are bound, through simple self-interest - that of sheer survival: mass suicide aka nuclear war is something that belongs to the Jonestown believers - to respect this Neutralization of Outer Space beginning at Earth Orbit and extending further out.
The problem is simply that there is no way to enforce treaties except to go to war, so somebody who intends to go to war is not going to respect the restrictions in these treaties. Russia and the U.S. signed a treaty guaranteeing that neither country would invade Ukraine if Ukraine would relinquish its Soviet era nuclear weapons - yet, look at the current situation. Not only has Russia invaded Ukraine, it has also blatantly threatened to use nuclear weapons if it does not succeed or is even counter attacked on its own soil.

So, we need to be prepared for treaty violations, at least to the point we can prepare without violating treaties, ourselves. Just like having to maintain nuclear weapons as deterrents, we need to be able to inspect, and if necessary, destroy satellites, or at least neutralize their capabilities. Unfortunately, that includes orbiting bombs as well as spy satellites.

Besides potential violators of treaties, there are nations that have not signed treaties, such as North Korea. How long do you think it will be before North Korea can launch satellites? Do you really have any confidence that they will not put nuclear bombs in orbit?

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