A Draft Treaty Limiting Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Weapons

In 1983, UCS board members Dr. Kurt Gottfried and Dr. Richard Garwin, along with Admiral Noel Gayler, were granted a hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss a treaty to ban anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons.

The treaty did not have the support of the administration at the time; shortly before the hearing was scheduled to take place, President Reagan first announced plans for "Star Wars"—the Strategic Defense Initiative. However, the ASAT ban proposal generated considerable discussion and, in the following decade, Congress showed its support of the general treaty principles by frequently including in its Defense Authorization and Appropriation bills bans on the testing of ASAT weapons against targets in space.

The text of the treaty, drafted by board members Kurt Gottfried, Richard Garwin, and Len Meeker, follows:

A Draft Treaty Limiting Anti-Satellite Weapons

Draft treaty presented to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May 1983 by the Union of Concerned Scientists et al.

Article I
Each Party undertakes not to destroy, damage, render inoperable or change the flight trajectory of space objects of other States.

Article II
1. Each Party undertakes not to place in orbit around the Earth weapons for destroying, damaging, rendering inoperable, or changing the flight trajectory of space objects, or for damaging objects in the atmosphere or on the ground.
2. Each Party undertakes not to install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner.
3. Each Party undertakes not to test such weapons in space or against space objects.

Article III
1. For the purpose of providing assurance of compliance with the provisions of this treaty, each Party shall use national technical means of verification at its disposal in a manner consistent with generally recognized principles of international law.
2. Verification by national technical means shall be supplemented, as appropriate, by such cooperative measures for contributing to the effectiveness of verification by national technical means as the Parties shall agree upon in the Standing Consultative Commission.
3. Each Party undertakes not to interfere with the national technical means of verification of the other Party operating in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article.
4. Each Party undertakes not to use deliberate concealment measures which impede verification by national technical means of compliance with this treaty.

Article IV
1. To promote the objectives and implementation of the provisions of this treaty, the Parties shall use the Standing Consultative Commission, established by the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics regarding the Establishment of a Standing Consultative Commission of December 21, 1972.
2. Within the framework of the Standing Consultative Commission, with respect to this treaty, the Parties will:
a) consider questions concerning compliance with the obligations assumed and related situations which may be considered ambiguous;
b) provide on a voluntary basis such information as either Party considers necessary to assure confidence in compliance with the obligations assumed;
c) consider questions involving unintended interference with national technical means of verification, and questions involving unintended impeding of verification by national technical means of compliance with the provisions of this treaty;
d) consider, as appropriate, cooperative measures contributing to the effectiveness of verification by national technical means;
e) consider possible changes in the strategic situation which have a bearing on the provisions of this treaty, including the activities of other States;
f) consider, as appropriate, possible proposals for further increasing the viability of this treaty, including
proposals for amendments in accordance with the provisions of this treaty.

Article V
The Parties undertake to begin, promptly after the entry into force of this treaty, active negotiations with the objective of achieving, as soon as possible, agreement on further measures for the limitation and reduction of weapons subject to limitation in Article II of this treaty.

Article VI
In order to ensure the viability and effectiveness of this treaty, each Party undertakes not to circumvent the provisions of this treaty, through any other State or States, in any other manner.

Article VII
Each Party undertakes not to assume any international obligation which would conflict with this treaty.

Article VIII
1. Each Party may propose amendments to this treaty.
2. Agreed amendments shall enter into force in accordance with the procedures governing the entry into force of this treaty.

Article IX
This treaty shall be of unlimited duration.

Article X
Each Party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from this treaty if it decides that extraordinary event related to the subject matter of this treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests. It shall give notice of its decisions to the other Party six months prior to withdrawal from the treaty. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events the notifying Party regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.

Article XI
1. This treaty shall be subject to ratification in accordance with the constitutional procedures of each Party.
2. This treaty shall enter into force on the day of the exchange of instruments of ratification.

Article XII
1. Done in two copies, each in the English and the Russian languages, both texts being equally authentic.
2. This treaty shall be registered pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

 

The Senate testimony:
Controlling Space Weapons, U.S. Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, 98th Congress, 1st Session, May 18, 1983; pp.112-129.

Articles and editorials:
Antisatellite Weapons, Scientific American, Vol. 250, No. 6, June 1984, pp. 45-66; Gottfried, K., Garwin, R. L., & Hafner, D. L.

"A Backfiring Weapon," Kurt Gottfried, The New York Times, 21 July, 1983.

"No Weapons in Space, No Unratified Treaties," Kurt Gottfried and Hans A. Bethe, The Washington Post, 6 February, 1983.

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