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SEPTEMBER 2020

France Joins United States In Its Push Towards Militarization Of Space

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France Joins United States In Its Push Towards Militarization Of Space

French Minister of Defence Florence Parly (L) delivers a speech next to the Air Force general Philippe Lavigne (C) to present the new Defence space Strategy on July 25, 2019, at the Command of Air Defence and Air Operations (Commandement de la defense aerienne et des operations aeriennes – CDAOA) in the base 942 on the Verdun mount in Poleymieux-au-Mont-d’Or near Lyon, France. (Photo by Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)

UN countries should adopt a unified stance on the non-placement of weapons in outer space and back peace initiatives in this sphere, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on August 6 commenting on France’s recent presentation of its national space defense strategy.

France has become the second country (after the United States) that has officially acknowledged the possibility that an armed conflict could start in space. However, in response to “unfriendly” or “hostile” steps towards French space targets, measures of countering them, including by force, are not ruled out, as we see it,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

There is no doubt that in response to this, all UN states recognizing their responsibility for preserving space as common heritage of the mankind for future generations should adopt a unified stance that any plans on its weaponization are unacceptable and efforts should be doubled in support of international peace initiatives.

The Russian side expressed concern over the French strategy’s provisions. Moscow recalled that

the latest changes in Paris concerning the Russian initiative on preventing an arms race in space occurred without any solid reasons. It should be noted that France refused to join an international initiative on no first placement of weapons in outer space and voted for the first time against the homonymous resolution at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, which called for dialogue in this sphere.

“The Russian document does not even include any call on undertaking a commitment on no first placement of weapons in outer space, but it only invites to explore the possibilities of doing this,” the ministry noted.

Russia recalled that France was opposed to developing a legally binding tool on preventing an arms race in outer space at the Geneva conference on disarmament.

“For its part, Russia confirms its determination to continue its consistent line towards promoting them, contributing to ensuring an absolutely peaceful use of outer space for the sake of global peace and security equal for all,” the ministry said.

On July 25, France announced that by 2025 it will invest another €700 million ($780 million), in addition to the €3.6 billion ($4 billion) already earmarked into the space military programmes. The declared goal is to boost France’s space capabilities, strengthening its means of surveillance and acquiring the means to self-defend in space.

“If our satellites are threatened, we will blind those of our adversaries. We reserve the right to choose the time and means of the riposte: it could imply using powerful lasers deployed from our satellites or from patroller nano-satellites,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly said.

On July 13, French President Emmanuel Macron declared that a Space Command would be created on September 1 in Toulouse. Initially staffed by 220 people, it will be subordinated to the Air Force whose name will change to become the Air and Space Force (Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace). This command will be responsible for all French space operations.

These actions, as well as the French posture in the UN, demonstrate that Paris has fully aligned itself with the US position on the militarization of space. It mimicked the US rhetoric claiming that some side is threatening its intersts in space. Thus, they create a pretext for the militarization and further tensions in this area. Both the US and France claim that they have to implement self-defense measrues to protect their space assets, but oppose any negotiations to develop a legally binding tool on preventing an arms race in outer space. 

At the same time, it seems unlikely that France does in fact have resources to participate in a new “space race”. So, this will likely turn inot a mostly political move showing the French vassal position on the international secene.

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