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A Proposal for a Ban on Destructive Anti-Satellite Testing: A Role for the European Union

A Proposal for a Ban on Destructive Anti-satellite testing
Publisher: SIPRI
SIPRI, Stockholm:
April, 2021

International fora have pursued space security regulation with little progress. The European Union (EU) has been proactive in this regard by advocating a multilateral code of conduct for outer space activities, however, it failed to survive negotiations. Further concrete measures to strengthen space security on a multilateral scale have been slow, as states are polarized on the subject of weaponization in outer space. Among threats to space security, destructive anti-satellite (ASAT) testing has emerged as a particularly destabilizing force. With an increasing number of states demonstrating ASAT capabilities, the regulation of ASATs demands action to prevent tensions from escalating to the point of conflict. This paper gives an overview of past ASAT tests and argues that destructive ASAT testing requires urgent policy intervention. The paper proposes a complete ban on destructive ASAT testing, drawing inferences from the EU’s draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. The paper additionally proposes that the EU assumes the role of facilitator in the proposed policy measure.


I. Introduction

II. Anti-satellite technology

III. A brief history of anti-satellite tests

IV. Destructive anti-satellites under the space treaties

V. Space lawmaking: 1980s to present day

VI. European Union Code of Conduct: Lessons learned

VII. A ban on destructive anti-satellite testing

VIII. Conclusions


Nivedita Raju is a Researcher in the SIPRI Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme.