Tuesday 16 July 2019

Wars could be waged in space, says Nato as it warns of China's rise

Nato says declaring it a domain would begin a debate over whether Nato should eventually use space weapons that can shut down enemy missiles and air defences or destroy satellites. Stock Image: Getty Images
Nato says declaring it a domain would begin a debate over whether Nato should eventually use space weapons that can shut down enemy missiles and air defences or destroy satellites. Stock Image: Getty Images

Erin Cunningham

Nato aims to recognise space as a domain of warfare this year, four senior diplomats said, partly to show US President Donald Trump that the alliance is relevant and adapting to new threats after he signed off on the creation of a US Space Force.

The decision, set to be taken at a December 3-4 leaders' summit in London that Mr Trump is due to attend, would formally acknowledge that battles can be waged not only on land, in the air, at sea and on computer networks, but also in space.

"There's agreement that we should make space a domain and the London summit is the best place to make it official," said one senior Nato diplomat involved in the discussions, although cautioning that technical policy work was still under way.

Nato says declaring it a domain would begin a debate over whether Nato should eventually use space weapons that can shut down enemy missiles and air defences or destroy satellites.

The decision to declare space a new frontier for defence may help convince Mr Trump that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation can be a useful ally in deterring China's rise as a rival military power, the diplomats said.

While Nato countries own 65pc of satellites in space, China envisions massive constellations of commercial satellites that can offer high-speed internet for aircraft to track missiles and is developing weapons it could use in orbit.

"You can have warfare exclusively in space, but whoever controls space also controls what happens on land, on the sea and in the air," said Jamie Shea, a former Nato official. "If you don't control space, you don't control the other domains."

A second diplomat said that while the decision had real consequences, it would likely be "a gift to Trump".

European allies are already nervous about whether Mr Trump will use the summit to again question the value of the international alliance.

Irish Independent

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