NATO considers declaring space a new domain of warfare under US pressure
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Defense ministers from the US-led pact's 29 members are expected to make a decision on the issue when they reconvene in London early December.
“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.
A second diplomat said while the decision was weighty and had real consequences, it would be “a gift" to Trump, who will also be attending the summit.
The US president has long been questioning the value of the military alliance in deterring China’s growing military power and Russia, which has already developed anti-satellite weapons and is upgrading its air defenses to counter possible threats coming from space.
NATO considers Russia, once a close ally, as a “threat” today. The alliance severed ties with Moscow in 2014 and has since continued to buildup a military presence in the Baltic region, on Russia's eastern borders.
The NATO defense ministers would hold a regular meeting in Belgium's capital of Brussels next week, but they are not expected to announce a decision over the plan.
“What we are looking towards is to bring space firmly on to the agenda at NATO," said an alliance diplomat.
What is Trump pushing for?
Even before taking office more than two years ago, Trump began pushing NATO members to increase their defense spending and prove their military relevance.
The president, who has also been taking an increasing interest in space, announced the establishment of a new Space Force branch of the military last year, despite opposition from the Pentagon.
He is now pressuring the NATO to follow the same path. The president used the last NATO gathering in July, to criticize European allies over defense spending and accused Germany of being a prisoner of Russian energy.
“There is pressure from the US and pressure from international developments,” Christian Molling, deputy director of the German Council on Foreign Relations said about the NATO’s space move.
There are, however, internal differences among the NATO member states, who hold varying views over the importance of upgrading space to a formal domain of operation, according to diplomats.
The US claims that both China and Russia have been seeking to militarize space. In a report earlier this year, the US Defense Intelligence Agency described both countries as the “real threats” to “US capabilities” in the outer space.
Analysts say the US was constantly exaggerating the military presence of Russian and China as a pretext to accelerate its own plans to prepare for space warfare.
This is while Washington is a member of the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits the deployment of weapons of mass destruction in space and only allows for the use of the moon and other celestial bodies for peaceful purposes.