India warns of space weapons' proliferation
Feb 5, 2007 - 11:18:29 PM

New Delhi, Feb 5 - A day after opposing the weaponisation of outer space, India Monday warned that the final frontier could become the arena of a new arms race that would adversely impact on the defence and development of most nations.

Speaking at an international aerospace seminar here, Defence Minister A.K Antony also called for 'fresh ideas and concepts' on an international non-proliferation regime as current thinking on this had reached a 'saturation point'.

According to the minister, the development of anti-satellite weapons fired from the ground 'requires the urgent attention of the international community, since this might have a negative impact on the defence and development of most nation-states.

'It is our collective responsibility to ensure the safety and security of assets in the space like satellites,' he added.

Antony did not name China, but was referring to Beijing's test firing of a missile from the ground to shoot down an ageing weather satellite from its 860 km orbit above the earth.

Antony's remarks came during his valedictory address at a two-day seminar on 'Aerospace in Tomorrow's World' that was attended by air force chiefs and senior officers from 37 foreign countries. The Indian Air Force - organised the seminar as part of its platinum jubilee celebrations.

The minister, however, admitted to difficulties in demarcating the peaceful and military uses.

'The use of outer space for military objectives is a major challenge confronting all of us. Though most of the military operations on the ground rely heavily on space capabilities like communication, surveillance, weather, the same assets are crucial for peaceful developmental purposes.

'It may be difficult to demarcate distinctly between peaceful and military uses. However, we have always advocated peaceful use of technology. Thus, we are of the view that weaponisation of space must be discouraged,' Antony stated.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had spoken in similar vein while inaugurating the seminar Sunday.

Noting that another challenge emanates from the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, Antony said: '- International non-proliferation regime appears to have reached a saturation point and fresh ideas and concepts are needed to meet future threats.'

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