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HOME > TOPICS > Missiles, Defenses, and Space      
Missiles, Defenses, and Space
Nov 05, 2020 Three Neglected Space Issues: Laser ASATs, Cooperation with China and Russia, and Space Secrecy
Earlier this summer, NPEC and the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security held their fifth space policy workshop, “Three Neglected Space Issues: Laser ASAT's, Cooperation with China and Russia, and Space Secrecy.” Attached is the workshop report. Very little has been said publicly about the Chinese and Russian ground-based anti-satellite weapon threat. The first panel clarified this threat. Like rendezvous satellites, ground-based lasers have perfectly legitimate civilian applications. However, they also can be used to disrupt, dazzle, and destroy important military satellites. Some technical fixes against this threat are possible. It also would be desirable to have certain rules governing the operations of these ground-based systems. Devising either set of fixes, however, are not possible without discussing these matters in a more open fashion. The second panel focused on how excessive secrecy is hobbling America’s military space programs and related space control diplomacy. The details of how self-defeating some forms of secrecy are and what should be done about it were extensively discussed. Finally, the third panel focused on space cooperation with Russia and China. What is the future of such cooperation? Might more cooperation help sort out rules for military space operations or is additional space cooperation ill-advised? On these matters, the participant’s views were divided: Some thought space cooperation was the best way to promote needed space control rules; others believed it would be unlikely China would ever comply. Below is the workshop’s report. The impressive list of speakers and participants included James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers former Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Michael Gold, acting associate NASA administrator, and Simon “Pete” Worden of Breakthrough Initiatives.
Testimony & Transcripts
Oct 21, 2020 What Missile-driven Competition with China Will Look Like
Earlier this week, administration officials said they were close to reaching an agreement with Moscow to extend the New START arms control agreement for an additional year. They made it clear that they wanted to use the year to get China to join the talks with Washington and Moscow. Assuming this takes place, though, what would the US, Russia, and China talk about? In the short-run, it's unclear. In the long-run, the matter of China's missiles (they have more than anyone else) must come up. In the below analysis published by American Purpose, I look out the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years.  The United States and its allies have their work cut out for them. China is likely to bubild up its nuclear and conventional missile forces even further in an attempt to gain advantage over the United States and its friends not just in the Western Pacific, but globally. The United States and its friends, however, can and will compete militarily and diplomatically, all of which is discussed below. 
Articles; Op-Eds & Blogs
Sep 16, 2020 Accurate Missile Strikes against Reactors: New Nuclear Worries
 On September 16, 2020, NPEC Executive Director Henry Sokolski gave a lecture to University of California, Berkeley, students on the subject of "Accurate Missile Stikes against Reactors: New Nuclear Worries." 
Presentations; Audio & Video
Aug 13, 2020 Space: The New Frontline of Deterrence
In 1914, the vanguard of battle started its slow transition from the trenches and near seas to the clouds. By mid-century, air power placed the Superpowers' defense in the hands of their air forces. Get ready for the next revolution. The frontlines of strategic deterrence (nuclear and nonnuclear) are now gravitating away from the Earth's surface into space where the eyes, ears, and nervous system of the world's economy and militaries increasingly reside. Will America be able to operate effectively in this new theater with Russia and China and the world's other spacefaring nations? What will keeping the peace and prevailing in war now entail?  NPEC commissioned Peter Garretson, an independent space consultant, formerly with the U.S. Air University Air Command and Staff College, to get the answers. His take, contained in the attached study, "What War in Space Might Look Like Circa 2030-2040?," clarifies perhaps the most important comment made int he U.S. Space Force's recently released Spacepower: Doctrine for Space Forces. That observation is that although the "entirety of economic and military space activities" is confined to space out to 24,000 miles from Earth or below (known as "geocentric regime"), America's space investments and interests are likely to expand beyond this to include space activities near, on, and beyond the Moon.  Mr. Garretson drives home the implications of this conclusion by delineating what America's military interests are now -- anchored to activities on Earth -- and what they soon enough may become -- activities more independent of earthly endeavors. To be sure, this transition may sound unrealistic until you consider that Russia, China, the European Union, Japan, and India all have already conducted missions to the Moon and plan soon to return, as does the United States. What are the military security uses and requirements for operating at or below 24,000 miles from Earth as compared to operating beyond? How might conflict arise in space closer to Earth compared to well beyond it in deep space? The short answer is that they are quite different. The trick will be knowing when and how to adjust U.S. and allied expenditures and strategies to deal with both. Towards this end, Peter's work is a first-rate place to begin. 
Working Papers & Monographs
Aug 05, 2020 Thinking Hard About Missile Defense
  Last month, the Japanese canceled on a major US-Japan missile defense project, Aegis Ashore. Japanese officials cited cost and effectiveness as issues driving their decision. The question now is what Japan and the US might do next. Much of the discussion has focused on different kinds of offensive missile or active missile defense measures.  This is too narrow a focus. As Bryan Clark of the Hudson Institute and I argue in the attached Real Clear Defense piece, “Thinking Hard about Missile Defense,” a key part of the missile defense solution for Japan lies in perfecting passive defenses — mobility, camouflage, decoys...and hardening. These first three types of passive defense are hardly new. Hardening, however, is undergoing a quiet technical revolution with the advent of ultra high performance concrete, which is five to ten times more resilient than conventional reinforced concrete.  When combined with other more traditional forms of passive defense, ultra hardening can geometrically increase the number of weapons needed for an attack because an adversary has to assume each potential target is hardened. It also should reduce missile defense requirements significantly, making terminal limited foot-print active defense systems, like Patriot and other shorter range missile defense systems, sufficient where previously they might have been dismissed as inadequate. As Washington works with its allies to protect key overseas bases, how much missile defense of what type is going to be a major issue that will be easier to work if passive defenses and hardening are dialed in.      
Op-Eds & Blogs
Jul 10, 2020 Coping with the Ground-Based Laser ASAT Threat
  As we approach the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima’s atomic bombing, the front lines of nuclear deterrence are moving from missile launch sites and air bases on earth to key satellites based in space. Knock out key satellites essential to command, control, communication, and informing military forces, and you can lobotomize any military no matter how powerful. In this regard, what China and Russia are up to deserves attention: Both are deploying a variety of anti-satellite weaponry to disable US and allied satellites. The latest development is their deployment of ground-based lasers that can dazzle US and allied imagery satellites. As Brian Chow and I detail in the attached Space News op-ed, “US satellites are increasingly vulnerable to China’ s ground-based lasers.” Chinese dual-use and dedicated military ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) lasers can already temporarily blind US and allied imagery satellites. By the mid-2020s, the Chinese may have lasers powerful enough to damage the structures of the satellites they target. This threat will require the United States and its allies to operate differently in space. Up until recently, we and our allies assumed space was a sanctuary. It is no longer. As Brian and I note, the United States needs to operate its imagery satellites as if they will be damaged once a war begins. This means taking as much imagery in peacetime as possible, relying more on lower resolution images that can be taken from increasingly plentiful commercial satellite constellations, and pushing to diversify America’s source of images away from military-dedicated satellites.  It also suggests new diplomatic positions the United States and its allies should consider, including extending New START’s formal prohibitions on interference with “national technical means of verification,” which includes sensor-carrying satellites.  The next trick is getting China to adhere to such prohibitions. In our piece, Brian and I describe additional diplomatic initiatives to deal with future ground-based laser ASATs.      
Op-Eds & Blogs
Jun 30, 2020 Countering Co-Orbital ASATs: What the Winning National Collegiate Debate Team Has to Say
Due to no planning at all, a key topic of NPEC’s current research — what U.S. space arms control policy should be — was this year’s national collegiate debate topic. Slightly less accidental is who won the national competition (which includes 80 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities). Michael Cerny, Raphael J. Piliero, David Bernstein, and Brandon W. Kelley turned in the winning debate submission, "Countering Co-orbital ASATs: Warning Zones in GEO as a Lawful Trigger for Self-Defense." It's a genuine contribution to U.S. space policy. It makes the case for creating zones in space to help protect key satellites from hostile spacecraft. It builds on NPEC’s research and improves on it.  How did I find out about the competition? In late February, NPEC cohosted a debate with the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on National Security and the Law on space self-defense zones between space expert Brian Chow and Brian Weeden of the Secure World Foundation. Word of the private debate apparently caught the attention of the collegiate debating teams. One of the teams contacted me and volunteered to transcribe a recording of the event and shared the transcript with their colleagues.  The result is the attached winning debate submission, which reinvents space self-defense or keep-out zones as space “warning” zones. Self-defense and keep-out zones have been criticized for running astride the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits states from asserting their sovereign to appropriate territory in space. The proposed warning zones avoids this problem. Rather than being prohibitive redlines designed to trigger the use of force, warning zones are “informational” and designed to deter conflict in space. The proposed warning zones clearly recognize the increasing threat posed by co-orbital rendezvous satellite operations and suggest a useful diplomatic, legal way forward. The winning team clearly deserves our thanks and their work, our attention.  
Jun 04, 2020 Something to Talk About: Missile Threats against East Asian Reactors 
  As Washington's strained relations with Beijing and Pyongyang continue to frazzle, it's unclear how bad things might get. The prospects of war with North Korea or China are still quite distant. It's certainly very difficult to imagine how a war with either might begin and what might be hit. To deter future conflict, however, requires imagining all possibilities.   In this regard, one target set that deserves more attention is nuclear plants in South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. At a recent NPEC workshop on what new security threats Washington should work more closely with Seoul and Tokyo on, the increasing vulnerability of nuclear plants in the region was examined. A summary of the workshop's key findings is attached along with short video excerpts, selected graphics, and draft commissioned research. The workshop's key takeaways are that North Korean and Chinese missiles are now lethal and accurate enough to disable a variety of nuclear plant subsystems. China and North Korea can deter and shape U.S. and allied military resistance in a variety of ways by targeting these points. The good news is there are a number of steps South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan might take to mitigate these threats. Holding discussions clarifying how may have to be done in private but it's not too early to begin.  
Working Papers & Monographs; Audio & Video
May 11, 2020 Working Smarter with America's Spacefaring Allies
On March 2nd, the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security held the space policy workshop, "Working Smarter with America's Spacefaring Allies." The workshop focused on the following questions: How can we work smarter militarily in space with our spacefaring allies? What is the case for and against promoting space zones and bodyguards for proximity operations? How can we work smarter commercially in space with our spacefaring allies? In addition, General John Raymond, Commander of the US Space Force and Thomas DiNanno, Senior Bureau Official and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Policy, Emerging Threats, and Outreach Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance served as keynote speaker. The following is the workshop report:  
May 11, 2020 New Frontiers for U.S. Alliance Cooperation with Japan and the ROK
Audio & Video
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The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), is a 501 (c)3 nonpartisan, nonprofit, educational organization
founded in 1994 to promote a better understanding of strategic weapons proliferation issues. NPEC educates policymakers, journalists,
and university professors about proliferation threats and possible new policies and measures to meet them.
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