Cablegate: Secretary of State
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DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE COLLECTIVE
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S E C R E T STATE 001264
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2018 TAGS: PREL PARM MNUC MARR CH
REF: (A)07 STATE 4837 (NOTAL), (B)07 BEIJING 331, (C)07 STATE 6192, (D)07 BEIJING 473, (E)07 BEIJING 2106, (F)07 BEIJING 3462, (G)07 TOKYO 2282, (H)SECDEFWASH 091500Z NOV 07, (I)SECDEFWASH 091518Z NOV 07, (J)SECDEFWASH 061700Z DEC 07
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.
Ambassador or other senior Embassy official is instructed to seek a high-level meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deliver a demarche drawing upon the talking points in paragraph 3, which should be left as a non-paper as Embassy determines appropriate. Embassy is requested to deliver the demarche on Monday, January 7, and provide confirmation of delivery and any reactions provided at the time of delivery. Embassy may also draw upon the "if raised" talking points in paragraph 4, as necessary, and may volunteer this information as seems appropriate.
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) Then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph also demarched the Chinese Ambassador in Washington, D.C. (REFTEL C)
On January 21, 2007, AFM He delivered the Chinese Governments formal response, telling Assistant Secretary Hill that the test posed no threat to any other nation, targeted no third country, and that "for the time being, China has no plans for further tests." (REFTEL D) In reply, A/S Hill emphasized that the explanation did not square with Chinas 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 channels regarding many of the questions first raised on January 15, 2007. During military-to-military exchanges with senior Peoples Liberation Army officials last spring, China was only slightly more forthcoming. (REFTELs E and F)
In these military-to-military exchanges, Chinese military officials termed the event a "scientific experiment" and dismissed as overblown concerns about the leftover debris field. (REFTEL G) During a May 11, 2007, meeting with Central Military Commission Vice Chairman General Guo Boxiong, Commander of the United States Pacific Command (PACOM) Admiral Timothy Keating strongly challenged this explanation. Admiral Keating pointed out that the test had raised concern in many countries and was a "confusing" signal, inconsistent with Chinas stated interest in the peaceful use of outer space.
Senior Chinese officials have continued to decline to provide any meaningful response to expressed U.S. concerns about the ASAT during recent security dialogues with Secretary of Defense Gates and other senior DoD officials.
SIPDIS (REFTELs H, I and J) Chinese officials have also dropped the earlier talking point they were using regarding the position that China has "no plans for further tests."
3. (S//REL CH) BEGIN TALKING POINTS (SHOULD BE LEFT AS A NON-PAPER):
-- 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 Chinas flight-test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon.
-- Debris from Chinas 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 a 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 has been 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 Chinas test, the International Space Station may need to make maneuvers that otherwise would not have been required.
-- Chinas 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 Chinas January 11, 2007, ASAT flight-test.
-- The contradiction between Chinas statements and actions in this area raise questions about the credibility of Chinas declaratory policies and commitments in other areas of national security affairs.
-- The United States believes Chinas 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 Chinas response to our January 15, 2007, demarche and your governments continued unwillingness to provide a full explanation for its actions call into question Chinas 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 Chinas 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 Chinas 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 Chinas 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?
-- 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 TALKING POINTS AND NON-PAPER.
4. (S//REL CH) BEGIN "IF RAISED" TALKING POINTS:
a. If the Chinese counter with a statement such as: "The United States conducted an ASAT test in 1985 and also is responsible for most of the debris now in orbit," 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, 25 percent by the United States, and 24 percent by Russia. -- Hence, 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 Chinas 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.
-- Chinas 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.
b. If the Chinese counter 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.
c. If the Chinese counter with arguments 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. 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 China raises questions relating to cooperation on future Shenzhou or other crewed space missions, the U.S. response should be:
-- The United States will continue to offer basic warning advisories which China might find helpful in 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.