US wants to turn space into a ‘theater of war’, says Russian military

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MOSCOW – The United States refuses to negotiate with Russia and China a treaty to prevent the use of weapons in space and seek to transform it into a theater of war, said the chief of operations general affairs department of the Russian General Staff Andrei Sterlin.

“The Pentagon sees space as a potential theater of military operations and requires complete maneuvering freedom in this area, in which the US refuses to negotiate an outline of the Russian-Chinese treaty to prevent the use of weapons in space, as well as create an international legal framework that limits their possibilities of using space for military purposes,” the military official said in front of the lower house of the Russian parliament.

He also stated that the number of warheads the United States has under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START III) is comparable to the combined nuclear potential of the United Kingdom and France.

He emphasized that the US, in contrast to Russia, did not fulfill its treaty commitments, particularly with regard to the re-equipment of some of the heavy bombers and strategic missile launchers.

“In fact, the United States has more nuclear warheads than the agreement allows, which is comparable to the combined nuclear potential of the United Kingdom and France,” he commented.

The new START Treaty, also known as START III, was signed by Russia and the US in 2010 and entered into force in 2011 for a period of 10 years, extendable by five others.

Under the agreement, the United States and Russia pledged to reduce their arsenals to 700 missiles, 1,550 nuclear warheads and 800 corresponding, positioned and reserve vehicles by February 5, 2018.

Russian-American talks to extend the treaty stagnated due to mutual misgivings about the development of new weapons.

A new US intelligence report, which highlights that Russia and China were trying to wage a war in the skies, sparked the ire of Beijing, which insists that space is not Washington’s “private property.”

“I want to make it clear that outer space belongs to all of humanity. It is not the exclusive property of any country and especially of US private property,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying.

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He was referring to the latest article from the Pentagon’s Defensive Intelligence Agency (AID).

Hua criticized the “unjustified and utterly unfounded comments” in the AID report, saying that China advocates the peaceful use of space and opposes its militarization.

“For many years,” said the spokeswoman, “China, Russia and other countries have been working hard and trying to reach an international legal instrument to fundamentally prevent armament or an arms race in outer space.”

The IDA report – which comes amid the cosmic efforts of US President Donald Trump as the establishment of the Space Command – fears that fans of US dominance will be challenged everywhere, even in space.

Russia and China “see space as important to modern warfare and see the capabilities of space as a means of reducing US military effectiveness and allies,” he says, noting that both countries have done much to increase their capabilities.

“These capabilities provide their military […] with greater situational awareness, enabling them to monitor, track, and focus US and Allied forces,” said AID.

What has not been said, however, is that several US military leaders openly discussed the possibility of offensive weapons being dropped into Earth orbit. Former Pentagon chief James Mattis, for example, said in 2017 that the United States needs to have offensive weapons in space “if anyone decides to militarize it and go on the offensive.”

In fact, Moscow warned in early January that Washington is seeing space as a potential battleground. In particular, Russia’s Foreign Ministry cited US plans to develop space-based interceptors.

The US, China, Russia and dozens of other countries are parties to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits weapons of mass destruction from being placed in space and installed on the Moon or any other celestial body.

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