Strengthening Global Partnership in SSA Activities

Frank A. Rose
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
3rd International Symposium on Sustainable Space Development and Utilization for Humankind
Tokyo, Japan
February 27, 2014

Date: 02/27/2014 Description: Frank A. Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, gives remarks at the 3rd International Symposium on Sustainable Space Development and Utilization for Humankind in Tokyo, Japan. - State Dept Image

Good morning. I am honored to be back in Tokyo for the third international symposium on sustainable space development and utilization for mankind. I always have a great experience during my trips to Japan, and I'd like to thank the Japan Space Forum for inviting me back again to participate in this seminar.

Update on U.S. Space Situational Awareness Initiatives

To begin, I'd like to provide a brief policy update on the United States' efforts on Space Situational Awareness, or SSA, cooperation in the past year, while deferring to my colleague Doug Loverro from the Department of Defense to discuss some of the more technical aspects of our SSA cooperation.

As everyone in this room understands, the increasingly congested space environment is of growing concern for all nations. The growing volume of space debris dramatically increases the threat of a collision. Avoiding such collisions requires us to strengthen the foundational capability of SSA to improve our ability to characterize the space environment and to predict the location of objects orbiting the Earth, including space debris.

Given the constraints of geography and finite resources, no one nation is capable of precisely tracking every space object on its own. This inherent limitation makes international cooperation on SSA not just useful but essential. As a result, we are collaborating with foreign partners, the private sector, and intergovernmental organizations to improve our space situational awareness – specifically, to improve our shared ability to rapidly detect, warn of, characterize, and attribute natural and man-made disturbances to space systems.

The United States is taking action in a variety of ways to implement our National Space Policy's guidance to enhance SSA capabilities through international cooperation.

For example, since last February, the United States has signed SSA sharing agreements with five governments, including three Pacific nations: Australia, Japan, and Canada. We have also concluded SSA sharing arrangements with Italy, and, just last month, France. We expect to sign several agreements with additional governments in 2014, as well as with numerous commercial owners and operators.

In addition, the United States continues to provide notifications to other governments and commercial satellite operators of potentially hazardous conjunctions between their satellites and other orbiting objects.

We are also exploring the possibility of establishing two-way SSA sharing, including with Japan. We hope that as our space surveillance capabilities improve, we will be able to notify satellite operators earlier and with greater accuracy in order to prevent collisions in space. To this end, the United States is working with partner nations on a country-by-country basis to develop processes and jointly develop a universal message format for more timely and tailored collision warning data. We are also working closely with the commercial space industry to determine what kinds of satellite data and other information can be shared. Working together at the operator level to share collision warning information will have the added benefit of improving spaceflight safety and communication among governmental and commercial operators, users, and decision-makers.

One of the most important areas for us to continue pursuing international cooperation, including on SSA and other space activities, is in the Asia-Pacific region. I'd now like to take a few minutes to discuss some key aspects of our engagement on space security in the region, including strengthening alliances; deepening partnerships with emerging powers; empowering regional institutions; and building a stable, productive, and constructive space security relationship with China.

Strengthening Alliances

Not only are we strengthening our alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, but in many cases, we’re updating them to face evolving security challenges, such as those in the space environment. This process of updating and broadening our alliances is especially evident here in Japan, where we are working with our Japanese allies to update the U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Guidelines. Enhancing allied cooperation on space security issues presents an ideal opportunity to enhance the U.S.-Japan Alliance. We believe the new Guidelines should emphasize the role that the United States and Japan envision for a "whole of government" approach to space security cooperation, and the ways this cooperation can contribute to enhancing deterrence, ballistic missile defense, and regional and international security and stability. We are looking to place particular emphasis on the importance to the Alliance of strengthening the long-term sustainability of the space environment and of pursuing bilateral and multilateral transparency and confidence-building measures, or TCBMs. Finally, the Guidelines should discuss bilateral cooperation in the utilization of U.S. and allied space capabilities and the potential value of Japanese contributions to improve the overall resiliency of critical space mission architectures.

In addition to our bilateral ongoing work with the Guidelines, the United States and Japan have held several space security dialogues in the last three years, as well as civil space dialogues and the first-ever Comprehensive Dialogue last year in Tokyo. The Comprehensive Dialogue on Space is intended to address the bilateral relationship at a strategic level and to ensure a whole-of-government approach to space matters. We expect a second Comprehensive Dialogue to be held later this year in Washington, D.C.

Space has also played an increasingly crucial role in our alliance with Australia, with discussions on space beginning as early as 2008 at the Australia-U.S. Ministerial (AUSMIN). At the 2010 AUSMIN, our governments acknowledged the growing problem of space debris, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on space surveillance. Two years later, we continued that cooperation at the 2012 AUSMIN when we announced that the United States would transfer a C-Band radar to Australia, which will help us expand our ability to track space debris in the southern hemisphere. At the 2013 AUSMIN, we signed another agreement to relocate a space surveillance telescope to Australia. We also have ongoing space security dialogues with Australia, as well as a trilateral space security dialogue between the United States, Australia, and Japan.

Discussions on space security have also been increasing with our Republic of Korea allies. We are currently considering the establishment of a formal space security dialogue mechanism between our two governments, as well as the establishment of a bilateral SSA Sharing Agreement.

All three of these allies have been exceptionally close partners on space security and sustainability. For example, both the United States and the Republic of Korea cooperated closely as members of the UN Group of Governmental Experts, or GGE, on Outer Space Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures and supported the consensus report, which was later endorsed last year by the UN General Assembly. The GGE, which was ably led by Victor Vasiliev of Russia who is here today, is an important example of what governments can achieve when they work together in a spirit of pragmatic cooperation. We hope that all countries will review the report and carefully consider implementing many of the near-term and pragmatic TCBMs contained therein.

One of the key recommendations from the consensus GGE report was its endorsement of "efforts to pursue political commitments, for example...a multilateral code of conduct, to encourage responsible actions in, and the peaceful use of, outer space." Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Korea, have all been global leaders in the development of the Code, which has the potential to contribute positively to the long-term sustainability, security, safety, and stability of the space environment through the establishment of TCBMs and rules of responsible behavior in space. In addition, I would like to recognize the invaluable contribution to space security by Thailand, who in November of last year hosted the successful second round of Open-Ended Consultations on the Code of Conduct in Bangkok.

Deepening Partnerships with Emerging Powers and Empowering Regional Institutions

In addition to updating and deepening our alliances in the region, we are also building new partnerships to help solve the shared problems of the space environment. We are seeking to forge deeper ties with other regional spacefaring nations. That is why I’ve spent a great deal of time in Asia over the past two years, discussing space security issues with my counterparts in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Our increasing engagement with ASEAN highlights our efforts to deepen our commitment to the region and to work with all nations to ensure a sustainable and secure space environment. We were proud to participate in and support the 2012 ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) workshop on space security, co-hosted by Vietnam and Australia. This event was the first time ARF members gathered to discuss space security issues. ARF members welcomed space issues into the ARF and called for more workshops. As a major forum for a large group of established and emerging spacefaring nations, the ARF provides an ideal opportunity to strengthen the region’s space expertise.

We are also seeking greater engagement with India, which is an established spacefaring nation, and we see a strong role for greater U.S.-India cooperation on space security issues. As President Obama said in 2010, the relationship between India and America will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. We see a strong role for Indian leadership in regional and multilateral space fora given India's space capabilities and its strong ties to other regional space actors and emerging spacefaring nations. For these reasons, in 2011 we launched the first U.S.-India space security discussions as part of an effort to ensure that our two governments exchange views on this increasingly important domain. The 2013 U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue Joint Statement called for a Space Security Dialogue between our two nations, and we look forward to having this Dialogue in the near future.

Building a Stable, Productive, and Constructive Space Security Relationship with China

Another key part of our regional engagement is building a stable, productive, and constructive space security relationship with China. As a leading spacefaring nation, China will play a key role in space security issues, and we will continue to engage China on space security through bilateral and multilateral channels. The United States and China have a mutual interest in maintaining the long-term sustainability and security of the space environment, including the adoption of measures to limit the creation of long-lived space debris. It is important to routinely discuss space security issues in order to reduce the chance for misperceptions and miscalculations. One way we have pursued these interests is by working to provide our Chinese counterparts with timely close approach notifications.

However, as U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper noted in testimony before the U.S. Congress, the United States remains concerned about Chinese counterspace activities. As the unclassified January 29, 2014, Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community noted: Chinese military leaders "understand the unique information advantages afforded by space systems and are developing capabilities to disrupt US use of space in a conflict. For example, Chinese military writings highlight the need to interfere with, damage, and destroy reconnaissance, navigation, and communication satellites. China has satellite jamming capabilities and is pursuing antisatellite systems."

This is a development that the United States and its allies will continue to watch closely, and we call on China to be more transparent about its intentions and activities in space.


In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate that the United States is committed to addressing the challenges of managing the space environment. However, we cannot address these challenges alone. All nations – including those in the Asia-Pacific region, which is seeing a rapid expansion in its number of spacefaring nations, and rapid development of those nations’ capabilities – should work together to adopt pragmatic and near-term approaches for responsible activity in space to preserve its use for the benefit of future generations. We look forward in the United States to deepening our engagement with all governments in the Asia-Pacific region in regard to space and to work for the long-term sustainability of the very fragile space environment.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak here today.