A-SAT testing not directed to any country, doesn’t violate international law: India

New Delhi: India on Wednesday said that its anti-satellite (A-SAT) weapon that successfully destroyed a decommissioned Indian satellite on a Low Earth Orbit (LEO), is not directed against any country and its space capabilities do not threaten anyone.

“Test is not directed against any country. India’s space capabilities does not threaten any country nor are they directed against anyone. At the same time, the government is committed to ensuring country’s national security interests and is alert to threats from emerging technologies,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said while giving out details of the test.

“The capability achieved through the Anti-Satellite missile test provides credible deterrence against threats to our growing space-based assets from long-range missiles, and proliferation in the types and numbers of missiles,” it added.

Giving out details of the A-SAT test, the MEA said: “On March 27, 2019, India conducted Mission Shakti, an anti-satellite missile test, from the Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam Island launch complex. This was a technological mission carried out by DRDO. The satellite used in the mission was one of India’s existing satellites operating in lower orbit. The test was fully successful and achieved all parameters as per plans. The test required an extremely high degree of precision and technical capability.”

“The significance of the test is that India has tested and successfully demonstrated its capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space based on complete indigenous technology. The satellite used was an Indian satellite,” the MEA statement said.

With this test, India joined an exclusive group of space-faring nations consisting of the USA, Russia and China.
New Delhi said that DRDO’s Ballistic Missile Defence interceptor was used during the test, which is part of the ongoing ballistic missile defence programme.

Clarifying over the use of Kinetic Kill technology for carrying out the test instead of other ways to demonstrate A-SAT capabilities such as “fly-by tests” and jamming, the MEA said: “This is a technology where we have developed capability. Space technologies are constantly evolving. We have used the technology that is appropriate to achieve the objectives set out in this mission.”

India underlined that the test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris, adding that the debris generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks.

The statement further noted: “The tests were done after we had acquired the required degree of confidence to ensure its success, and reflects the intention of the government to enhance India’s national security.”

India is a signatory to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which states that only weapons of mass destruction are prohibited in outer space and not ordinary weapons. “India is not in violation of any international law or Treaty to which it is a Party or any national obligation,” the government clarified.

“India has no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space. We have always maintained that space must be used only for peaceful purposes. We are against the weaponisation of Outer Space and support international efforts to reinforce the safety and security of space-based assets,” the statement outlined.

New Delhi said that the test was done to strengthen its capability to safeguard the space assets, underlining that it has no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space.

“The test was done to verify that India has the capability to safeguard our space assets. It is the Government of India’s responsibility to defend the country’s interests in outer space,” the MEA said.

“India has a long-standing and rapidly growing space programme. It has expanded rapidly in the last five years. The Mangalyaan Mission to Mars was successfully launched. Thereafter, the government has sanctioned the Gaganyaan Mission which will take Indians to outer space,” it added.

India has undertaken 102 spacecraft missions consisting of communication satellites, earth observation satellites, experimental satellites, navigation satellites, apart from satellites meant for scientific research and exploration, academic studies and other small satellites. “India’s space programme is a critical backbone of the country’s security, economic and social infrastructure,” the government said.

The MEA further said: “India expects to play a role in the future in the drafting of international law on prevention of an arms race in outer space including inter alia on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space in its capacity as a major space-faring nation with proven space technology.”

“India believes that outer space is the common heritage of humankind and it is the responsibility of all space-faring nations to preserve and promote the benefits flowing from advances made in space technology and its applications for all,” it added.

India is a party to all the major international treaties relating to Outer Space. The country already implements a number of Transparency and Confidence Building Measures (TCBMs) – including registering space objects with the UN register, prelaunch notifications, measures in harmony with the UN Space Mitigation Guidelines, participation in Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination (IADC) activities with regard to space debris management, undertaking SOPA (Space Object Proximity Awareness and COLA (Collision Avoidance) Analysis and numerous international cooperation activities, including hosting the UN-affiliated Centre for Space and Science Technology Education in Asia and Pacific, the government informed.

India has been participating in all sessions of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

India is supporting the substantive consideration of the issue of Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) in the Conference on Disarmament where it has been on the agenda since 1982, the MEA statement further said.