Blast first, talk later

At least one theory, suggested by James Oberg and others, about why China so dramatically displayed its satellite killing capabilities this month was that perhaps the nation wanted to discourage resistance to space arms control talks. (See my earlier post, Who wants an anti-ASAT treaty?)

Yesterday, in her regularly scheduled press conference, China's Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman Jiang Yu said "China is willing to make efforts with other countries to formulate a binding outer space treaty so as to effectively prevent the weaponization of the outer space. We hope relevant parties can work with us in this regard."

When asked, she also confirmed a Chinese delegation will attend the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) meeting of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, February 12-23, 2007 in Vienna. And here is the
provisional agenda for that meeting. (And this is it in Chinese.) No agenda item specifically on ASAT's for the Subcommittee, but #7 covers space debris, a major area of concern in a world where a nation may go ahead and blast apart up one of its old satellites in orbit. "The text of the draft space debris mitigation guidelines of the Subcommittee, developed by consensus in the Working Group on Space Debris at the forty-third session of the Subcommittee, and contained in document A/AC.105/C.1/L.284, is to be presented to the Subcommittee at its forty-fourth session, for its approval."

(The US, also a member of COPUOS and will no doubt attend the Subcommittee session, has not blown up any satellites lately and remains on the record as having no interest in negotiating a space arms treaty.)

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