Background: ASAT Test

Background: ASAT Test

  • On March 27, India became the 4th country after US, China, Russia, to test the Anti-Satellite missile capability under Mission Shakti.
  • The ASAT test demonstrated India’s capability to destroy a satellite in the low earth orbit using a missile.


India’s position on weaponisation of outer space

  • Principle
    • India in principle opposes the weaponsiation of space.
  • Party to Outer Space Treaty
    • India became a party to Outer Space Treaty, 1967 when it ratified the agreement in 1982
    • While Outer Space Treaty advocates the peaceful use of outer space, it does not prevent arms race in space.
    • India has been pushing for an international binding agreement to prevent arms race in space.
    • The Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) is a UN resolution that bans weaponisation of space.
    • However it is yet to see the light of the day due to opposition from US and Israel.
  • UNGA 69/33
    • UNGA resolution 69/32 deals with the ‘No First Placement of Weapons on Outer Space’.
    • India supports UNGA 69/32 but sees it only as an interim measure.
  • PPWT
    • China and Russia have presented a draft treaty on “prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, and the prevention of the threat or use of force in outer space” (PPWT).
    • India has welcomed the treaty.
  • India’s response to Chinese ASAT test in 2007
    • India had responded to Chinese ASAT test in 2007 reiterating that such tests undermine the process of arriving at a longstanding international consensus on peaceful uses of outer space.


Justification of ASAT Test

  • Despite the aforesaid position of India on weaponisation of Outer Space and its peaceful use, India conducted the ASAT test for the following reasons.


Deterrence to Emerging space threat

  • India’s space assets under the INSAT, IRS, IRNSS systems are significant for socio-economic development of the country.
  • China has developed counter-space capabilities in response to US’s efforts.
  • Thus ASAT test signifying the embryonic counter-space capability of India is a necessity to protect the space assets we have thus acting as a deterrent to any threat to them.


Absence of binding international agreement

  • The logjam over PAROS and PPWT treaties has necessitated India to build a deterrent.
  • The absence of a binding international agreement over weaponisation of space necessitated building of counter-space capability lest it will lead to lopsided balance of power.
  • This view is shared by France which stands against destabilized arms race in space and peaceful use of outer space.

Note: In an earlier article we have comprehensively covered ASAT test under Mission Shakti.

Section : Science & Tech