Cablegate: Request to Allies for New Demarche to China Regarding China's January 2007 Anti-Satellite Test
DE RUEHC #1265 0062000
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S E C R E T STATE 001265
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2018
TAGS: PREL PARM MNUC MARR CH
SUBJECT: REQUEST TO ALLIES FOR NEW DEMARCHE TO CHINA REGARDING CHINA'S JANUARY 2007 ANTI-SATELLITE TEST
REF: (A)07 STATE 4837 (NOTAL), (B)07 BEIJING 331, (C)07 BEIJING 473, (D)07 STATE 4836, (E)07 BEIJING 4185
CLASSIFIED BY ACTING U/S FOR ARMS CONTROL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY (T) JOHN C. ROOD, REASONS, 1.4 (B) AND (D).
1.(SBU) THIS IS AN ACTION REQUEST. See paragraph 3 below.
2.(S) BACKGROUND: On January 11, 2007 (UTC), China conducted an anti-satellite (ASAT) test by launching a ground-based weapon against one of its own satellites. On January 15, 2007, Ambassador Randt delivered a demarche to Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister He Yefei. (REFTELs A and B) On January 21, 2007, AFM He delivered the Chinese Government's formal response, telling Assistant Secretary Hill that the test posed no threat to any SIPDIS other nation, targeted no third country, and that "for the time being, China has no plans for further tests." (REFTEL C) In reply, A/S Hill emphasized that the explanation did not square with China's stated position of not wishing to embark on any kind of arms race in outer space. A/S Hill cautioned AFM He that the U.S. remained concerned that China had not explained adequately the purpose of the test. In nearly 12 months since the Chinese test, Beijing has provided no further explanation in diplomatic or military-to-military channels regarding the questions first raised on January 15, 2007. To increase diplomatic pressure on China, the U.S. requested last January that the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, and the Republic of Korea demarche China. (REFTEL D) On their own initiative, French and German Chiefs of Mission in Beijing also approached the Chinese MFA immediately after the test and received "no sensible answer" to questions concerning the apparent contradiction between the test and the PRC's stated policy against militarizing space. (REFTEL E) On or about January 7, 2008, Embassy Beijing will deliver a second demarche to the Chinese MFA.
3.(S) GUIDANCE REQUEST: For Berlin, Canberra, London, Ottawa, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo: Ambassador or other senior Embassy official in each host country is instructed to deliver Washington's request for assistance in demarching China. Embassies may draw upon the capital-specific talking points in paragraph 4 and key points in the new U.S. demarche to China in paragraph
5.The U.S. demarche to China in paragraph 5 should be left as a non-paper for host Nation's information. Embassies are requested to provide confirmation of delivery and any reactions provided at the time of delivery. Embassies may refer to "if raised" talking points in paragraph 6, as appropriate.
4.(SBU) BEGIN CAPITAL-SPECIFIC TALKING POINTS: a. (S//REL AS, CA, FR, GM, IS, IT, JP, ROK, and UK) FOR ALL:
-- The United States delivered a demarche to the People's Republic of China on or about January 7, 2008, concerning China's continued refusal to adequately explain its anti-satellite flight-test on January 11, 2007. China's direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon was used to intentionally destroy a satellite. As a consequence of this event, China is now responsible for more breakup debris in low earth orbit than any other spacefaring nation.
-- Despite expressions of concern by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, South Korea, France and several other nations, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not provided adequate explanations to our questions and concerns.
-- Over the nearly 12 months since these demarches, the U.S. has made numerous follow-up requests for answers in both diplomatic and military-to-military channels. To date, Washington has not received satisfactory answers to many of the questions posed in our January 15, 2007, demarche.
-- The United States requests your government's assistance in applying diplomatic pressure to the Chinese government to respond to several important unanswered questions regarding its January 11, 2007, flight-test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon.
-- We have provided China with a non-paper detailing our specific concerns. We are sharing this non-paper with you and other key allies.
-- We look forward to continuing our discussions with your government on this topic. b. (S//REL AS, CA, JP, ROK, and UK) For Canberra, London, Ottawa, Seoul, and Tokyo: We are grateful for your government's assistance last year in joining us in demarching China. We will continue to consult with you regarding the implications of China's direct-ascent ASAT and other counter-space activities both for the space environment and for our shared security interests. c. (C//REL FR and UK) For London and Paris: We look forward to continuing our bilateral strategic space dialogues with you in 2008. Our discussions during the past year have identified many opportunities for increased cooperation and diplomatic coordination. d. (S//REL AS, CA, GM, IS, IT, and JP) For Berlin, Canberra, Ottawa, Rome, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo: We wish to initiate a bilateral strategic space dialogue with you in 2008 to address common concerns regarding protection of our shared national security space interests and new opportunities for cooperation and diplomatic coordination. (SBU)
END CAPITAL-SPECIFIC TALKING POINTS.
5.(S//REL AS, CA, FR, GM, IS, IT, JP, ROK, and UK) BEGIN U.S. DEMARCHE TO THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA:
-- As Ambassador Randt explained in a demarche to Assistant Foreign Minister He on January 15, 2007, and in follow-up discussions throughout 2007 between senior U.S. and Chinese political and military officials in diplomatic and military- to-military channels, the United States remains concerned about the possibility of increased risk to human spaceflight, including the International Space Station and the U.S. Space Shuttle, resulting from China's flight-test of a direct- ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon.
--- Debris from China's ASAT test has increased hazards to other peaceful uses of space in low earth orbit by the United States and other space-faring nations.
--- This is a very serious matter for the entire international community.
-- Unfettered access to space and the capabilities provided by satellites in orbit are vital to United States national and economic security.
--- The United States considers space systems to have the rights of unhindered passage through, and operations in, space without interference.
--- Any purposeful interference with U.S. space systems will be interpreted by the United States as an infringement of its rights and considered an escalation in a crisis or conflict.
--- The United States reserves the right, consistent with the UN Charter and international law, to defend and protect its space systems with a wide range of options, from diplomatic to military.
--- Purposeful interference with the space systems of other nations which are used by the United States for peaceful purposes in pursuit of U.S. national interests also will be considered as contrary to the interest of maintaining international peace and security.
-- It has been nearly a year since China intentionally destroyed an aging weather satellite using a ground-based direct-ascent ASAT weapon.
--- Since this flight-test occurred on January 11, 2007, the United States has detected and tracked over 2,500 pieces of orbital debris directly attributable to this ground-based direct-ascent ASAT flight-test.
--- Our experts estimate that many of these pieces, and as many as 100,000 smaller debris objects, some of which will remain in orbit for the next 100 years.
-- Currently, of all identified satellite (spacecraft and rocket bodies) breakup debris now in low Earth orbit, 45 percent was generated by China.
--- China is now responsible for more breakup debris in low earth orbit than any other state.
-- We have already been compelled to take precautionary measures to maneuver U.S. satellites to reduce the probability of collision with the debris. Our experts predict that to avoid collisions with the debris from China's test, the International Space Station may need to make maneuvers that otherwise would not have been required.
--- China's intentional destruction of a satellite, and the resultant creation of long-lived debris, is contrary to international Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines. These guidelines were endorsed over four years before the ASAT test by Chinese government scientists.
--- Under the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, China may be liable for damage caused by debris from China's January 11, 2007, ASAT flight-test.
-- The contradiction between China's statements and actions in this area raise questions about the credibility of China's declaratory policies and commitments in other areas of national security affairs.
-- The United States believes China's development and testing of such capabilities is inconsistent with the constructive relationship that our Presidents have outlined, including in the area of civil space cooperation.
--- The inadequate nature of China's response to our January 15, 2007, demarche and your government's continued unwillingness to provide a full explanation for its actions call into question China's intentions in space and undermines trust.
-- As Secretary of Defense Gates noted in his meeting with President Hu on November 6, 2007, the United States remains interested in talking to China about China's anti-satellite weapons development.
--- Such a dialogue could help reduce the risk of misunderstanding or miscalculation.
-- As we look to the future, we expect China to bear in mind the requirement under Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is party, for a State Party to "undertake appropriate international consultations" before proceeding with any activity that it "has reason to believe would cause potentially harmful interference with activities of other States Parties in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space."
-- The U.S. is refraining from any expansion of space-related cooperation with China. One of the primary reasons for this position is the continued lack of transparency from China regarding the full range of China's space activities. One sign of increased transparency would be forthright responses to the following questions:
--- What analysis did China perform to estimate the debris that would be caused by the intentional destruction of your satellite in the January 11, 2007, test?
--- What steps did China take to mitigate damage to the satellites of other countries?
--- What are China's future intentions for its direct-ascent ASAT development and testing program?
--- Will there be further tests of a direct-ascent anti- satellite weapon or other anti-satellite weapons, capabilities, or technologies? If so:
---- How will your government ensure that further testing does not create new hazards for human spaceflight and other space activities?
---- What notification will China provide for any future ASAT tests?
--- Are you planning to deploy your ground-based direct- ascent ASAT, or other, similar weapons, capabilities, or technologies?
END U.S. DEMARCHE TO CHINA.
6.(S//REL AS, CA, FR, GM, IS, IT, JP, ROK, and UK) BEGIN "IF RAISED" TALKING POINTS: a. If host government notes that the U.S. has opposed China's calls to begin negotiation of a treaty on the "Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space" at the Conference on Disarmament (CD), U.S. response should be:
-- We understand that China may join Russia in introducing in this CD session a draft treaty banning deployment of weapons in space and the threat or use of force against space objects. If so, we urge your government not to support it.
-- We carefully studied the draft treaty circulated by Russia last summer, which we understand was developed in collaboration with China. It provides no grounds for the United States to change its long-standing opposition to negotiations on new, legally-binding space arms control agreements.
-- Notably, the draft treaty would not prohibit the development and deployment of a ground-based direct- ascent interceptor of the type of ASAT China tested last year.
-- We remain convinced that there is no arms race in space but rather unprecedented cooperation. The CD needs to move beyond unnecessary, counter-productive and ill-defined discussions of "weaponization" of outer space.
-- The United States will support efforts to explore new voluntary "Best Practices Guidelines" in the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and other appropriate fora to preserve the space environment and to ensure safe operations.
-- Our National Space Policy makes clear, however, that we will oppose new, legally-binding regimes that seek to limit our access to, and use of, space, or which impair our rights to conduct research, development, testing and operations in space.
-- It is not in the interest of any U.S. ally or friend that the CD be diverted toward work on treaty regimes that could be used to limit legitimate national security uses of space, such as for communications, navigation, missile warning and intelligence. b. If host government notes that the U.S. has also tested a direct ascent ASAT, the U.S. response should be:
-- Currently, of all identified satellite (spacecraft and rocket bodies) breakup debris now in low Earth orbit, 45 percent was generated by China.
--- China is now responsible for more breakup debris in low earth orbit than anyone else.
-- All breakup debris attributed to the U.S. that is now in low earth orbit was caused by accidents (e.g., fuel tank explosions) and other unintentional events. ---The vast majority of breakup debris created by China is the result of an intentional act.
-- The United States has not conducted an anti-satellite test since 1985. The Cold War is over and the world economy is now significantly more dependent on Low Earth Orbit satellites than it was in 1985. That is why so many countries have expressed concern about the Chinese test.
--- The majority of the debris created by the 1985 U.S. test reentered the atmosphere within less than three years, and none remains in orbit today.
--- The majority of trackable debris objects (e.g., those with areas larger than 10 square centimeters) created by China's ASAT test will remain in orbit until the late 2030s.
-- Less than three years after conducting this test, the United States adopted the first of a series of national policies directing all U.S. space activities to minimize the creation of debris.
--- In fact, the longevity of the debris resulting from the 1985 ASAT test led directly to U.S. Department of Defense and then national-level policies to minimize debris from space tests.
-- The U.S. has actively worked with other nations to protect the space environment for future generations.
--- These efforts include development of voluntary guidelines in the Inter-Agency Debris Coordination (IADC) committee and the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).
--- The U.S. also supports consideration at COPUOS of new voluntary "Best Practice Guidelines" to ensure safe space operations by all spacefaring nations.
-- China's civil national space agency participated in developing the IADC and COPUOS debris mitigation guidelines, which specifically call for nations to refrain from any intentional destruction of satellites that might create long- lived debris. c. If host government counters with an assertion such as: "We believe the United States is pursuing space weapons," the U.S. response should be:
-- The United States does not have any "weapons" in space, nor do we have any plans to field such weapons. d. If host government raises points related to U.S. missile defense, the U.S. response should be:
-- The U.S. missile defense system is strictly a defensive system. Missile defense protects people from attack, potentially saving many lives. A Chinese attack on a satellite using a weapon launched by a ballistic missile threatens to destroy space systems that the United States and other nations use for commerce and national security. Destroying satellites endangers people. d. If host government raises questions relating to U.S cooperation on China's future Shenzhou or other crewed spaceflight missions, the U.S. response should be:
-- The United States will continue to offer basic warning advisories which China could use to protecting Chinese spacecraft carrying astronauts from collision with other space objects.
-- These advisories are offered in the spirit of cooperation and mutual assistance to minimize dangers to Chinese astronauts in their role as envoys of humanity in outer space. END "IF RAISED" TALKING POINTS.