Weaponisation of Outer Space Treaty, 1967:
The Outer Space Treaty,formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law.
The Outer Space Treaty prohibits only weapons of mass destruction in outer space, not ordinary weapons. As of February, 108 countries are parties to the treaty, while another 23 have signed the treaty but have not completed ratification. The exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind.
Given the prohibitively expensive nature of space projects, India and other countries must utilize the increased presence in space to legitimately advance the well-being of their people.
Growing militarization of Outer Space:
There is no global regulatory regime to address the growing militarisation in space which compels India to develop deterrence for the security of its space-based assets.
Anti-satellite technology has so far been in the hands of very few countries: the United States, Russia and China.
The acquisition and demonstration of this technology make India a member of an elite group of countries.Outer space is becoming an arena for technological shows of force whether by deployment of spy satellites or testing of weapons. Missiles are one aspect of space warfare, there are several equally effective methods like lasers, to incapacitate satellites that are being developed and are of equally serious concern.
No global regulatory treaty:
There is no global regulatory regime to address the growing militarisation in space. The Outer Space Treaty Does not ban military activities within space or the weaponisation of space, with the exception of the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space.
At the UN Disarmament Commission, India expressed concern about the weaponisation of outer space and sought collective action to secure space-based assets. As the regulation has a vacuum, India has legitimate reasons to develop deterrence for the security of its space-based assets.
Along with international law, there is a need for separation between civilian and military use of outer space, international cooperation, free exchange of ideas across borders and import of technologies and products to bring transparency and to build confidence among nations.
India needs to emphasize its outlining rules for what is permissible. India has interests in ensuring that outer space is kept clean, safe and secure for future generations to use as well. It also has interests in strengthening its credentials in global space governance.
Until now, India could not play an active role in this because it did not have that capability that gives it a voice in this arena. But now, India has successfully demonstrated its ASAT capability, it should play an important role in mitigating problems such as space debris, space traffic management, orbital frequency issues and other issues that are important for ensuring safe and secure access to outer space.
India should partner with like-minded countries in initiating these conversations and take them to meaningful international platforms such as Conference on Disarmament, UN First Committee and UN Disarmament Commission.