DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT 1996 (Senate - August 10, 1995)
AMENDMENT NO. 2402
Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I call up amendment 2402.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
The Senator from Iowa [Mr. Harkin] proposes an amendment numbered 2402.
Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, my amendment will eliminate the $30 million added to the Pentagon request to fund the tactical antisatellite weapons program.
This is one of the most unnecessary programs that this committee has ever pulled from its pork barrel.
Mr. President, my amendment eliminates funding for the Army's kinetic energy antisatellite [ASAT ] weapon program.
The Army itself tried to cancel this cold war weapon for several years.
The Bush administration continued the program, even though the Pentagon did not want it.
The Clinton administration has zeroed the program. But the Senate Armed Services Committee has included $30 million to keep this cold war weapon alive.
My amendment would eliminate this wasteful spending on an unnecessary weapon, and save the taxpayer's money.
Proponents of ASAT weapons argue that if we build weapons to shoot down airplanes, why not build a weapon to shoot down space satellites?
Mr. President, there is a big difference between battles in the air and battles in outer space.
The debris of the battle will fall to the ground immediately after an air battle, and commercial air liners can still fly after hostilities end.
Not so in outer space.
The collision of one ASAT kinetic kill vehicle with one enemy satellite would create thousands of pieces of space junk.
The space battle debris continues to orbit the earth at speeds of 17,000 miles per hour.
At lower altitudes, from 100 to 200 miles up, air molecules will gradually slow the debris until it falls and burns up on reentry to the atmosphere.
Above 300 miles up, space debris will remain in orbit for many years.
At higher altitudes, debris can continue to orbit the Earth for decades or centuries.
Every piece of space debris is a lethal weapon, traveling at speeds of 17,000 miles an hour.
This debris could damage any rocket or satellite crossing its path.
It would be uncharted, and give no warning.
If space debris were to hit an astronaut, it would probably be fatal.
If an ASAT weapon were to be used successfully, vast orbital bands of space would be rendered unusable for years, decades, or even centuries.
This is not a theoretical conjecture.
We have examples of such debris creation from old Soviet ASAT space tests.
Several Soviet ASAT tests did create thousands of detectable pieces of junk that are still in orbit after 25 years.
The Soviet Union launched Cosmos 249 and detonated it as an ASAT weapons tests on October 29, 1968.
This explosion in space created 109 identifiable objects at the intercept altitude of 525 kilometers.
Because the Cosmos 249 ASAT was in a highly elliptical orbit, this lethal debris spends most of its time at higher altitudes.
As a result, this debris has survived longer than expected.
Today, 55 pieces of detectable junk are still orbiting the earth, 27 years after the ASAT explosion in space.
In total, 371 detectable pieces of orbiting junk still survive today from various Soviet ASAT weapons tests.
Similarly, U.S. Air Force direct ascent ASAT tests in 1985 created 285 pieces of orbiting space junk at an altitude of 350 miles.
Today, nine detectable pieces of this experiment are still in orbit, threatening peaceful TV and telephone satellites of many commercial ventures.
Near Earth space is too commercially valuable to even permit tests of ASAT weapons.
However, I agree that the military has a need to deny a rogue nation the use of a reconnaissance satellite.
Spy satellites in space can be effectively jammed, or, better yet, false information can be fed to the receiving stations.
We presently have the technology to jam and to feed false information to enemy satellite ground stations.
There is no need to shoot down a satellite in space, because it can easily be rendered ineffective or even turned to our advantage.
Jamming and spoofing an enemy satellite is certainly more cost effective than wasting money developing a cold war ASAT weapon.
Electronic counter-measures will not create the space junk that shooting down a satellite will create.
It is true that satellite reconnaissance is a vital capability in war.
But Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and any other potential enemy do not have, and will not have for many years, any satellite, much less a military reconnaissance satellite.
If any potential enemy were to start making a reconnaissance satellite, then perhaps there could be a need for an antisatellite weapon.
But the time needed for a rogue nation to make a satellite would give us the time to develop effective countermeasures.
We do not need to make this weapon now.
There is no threat, and no perceived threat.
There is a real question of just whose satellite we would be willing to destroy.
Only friendly countries have satellites in orbit now.
If time on a military reconnaissance satellite were leased to a rogue nation by a friendly country, would we really want to shoot that satellite down?
We cannot afford to waste $30 million on such a remote possibility as Iraq, Iran, or North Korea getting access to a military reconnaissance satellite at some indefinite point in the future.
Only when the threat is apparent do we need to develop an antisatellite weapon.
So let us not waste our taxpayers' dollars on this unnecessary antisatellite weapons system. Let us save the taxpayers $30 million.
I reserve the remainder of my time.
Mr. STEVENS. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, I now ask unanimous consent that all amendments qualified by the 8:30 p.m. timeframe, as a result of the previous agreement be debated tonight, and that any votes ordered or in relation to the amendments or motions to occur beginning at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, with 4 minutes equally divided for an explanation on each amendment prior to the vote, and after the third consecutive vote, the time for explanation be extended to 10 minutes equally divided on one amendment that Senator Harkin will have--he will have 15 minutes and we will have 5 minutes--and that all votes in the voting sequence after the first vote be limited to 10 minutes in length.
That will wrap up this bill.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. STEVENS. I now yield to the Senator from Arizona for the reply to the Harkin amendment.
Mr. KYL. Thank you. I thank the chairman for yielding.
Mr. President, the first primary argument of the Senator from Iowa on this is that we have an effective antisatellite weapon, and if we have to use this, it will create space junk.
Mr. STEVENS. If the Senator will yield, I do not want to take up time. But this agreement will mean, however, that there will be four votes as soon as we finish the debate on this. Following those four votes, all other votes will occur tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m.
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, again, this is an amendment to eliminate some of the funding for research on an antisatellite program in the event the United States should ever need that. It is a contingency program. We are not talking about deploying anything.
But the primary argument of the Senator from Iowa was that if this was ever utilized, obviously, these satellites might be blown apart and that would create space junk. I suppose that might be true, but I find that not to be a very persuasive argument that we should be denied a weapon that we would need in time of war. It is a little like lamenting the rubble that may exist after the necessary bombing of downtown Baghdad. It may be too bad that there is some rubble there, but the fact of matter is, that is a consequence of war. If we needed an antisatellite weapon, obviously that would be the last of our concerns.
As the Armed Services Committee stated in its report, the United States military has spent billions of dollars on the spectrum of multi-service and joint war-fighting space requirements. We spent billions, too, on a broad mix of space and ground-based capabilities that will serve us both in time of peace and war. In the event of a conflict, the United States would be faced by a wide array of capabilities by our potential adversaries in space and with the access to space-derived data that comes from that.
As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I am very concerned about the ability of the United States to counter these technological gains by potential adversaries as a result of the massive decontrol of the technologies of satellite weaponry and satellite reconnaissance and sensing.
These products are being sold now commercially and are being purchased around the world. The sensing and reconnaissance space-based technologies will have proliferated by the time we may be faced by an adversary, which will require that we have some capability to counter it.
If we do not continue to do the research on this kind of a program, we will be denied that capability when the time comes.
China, France, Italy, Spain, and Israel have satellite reconnaissance capability, in addition, of course, to Russia and China. India, Japan, North Korea, and other countries are moving toward developing such a capability.
As the reconnaissance and space-based technology spreads with the sale or lease to Third World countries of satellites over time, the satellites will obviously spread as well.
The funds recommended by the committee for the tactical antisatellite program would provide the United States with a contingency capability. That is all we are talking about. That would enable the United States, if necessary, to influence the use of these technologies in a conflict and to prevent the misuse or denial of space systems and access to space by the United States.
During the Persian Gulf war, the U.S. and its coalition allies had almost total domination of space and used unprecedented space-dependent military capabilities to achieve victory. Preventing the misuse or denial of space systems and access to space is vital to United States national security.
The history of the space advantage enjoyed by the United States and its coalition allies I hope will not be forgotten. Future adversaries such as a rogue nation with access to a nuclear weapon or, for that matter, a ballistic missile with a conventional payload could use space to generate a theater atmospheric disturbance, electromagnetic pulse, disrupt signal propagation and, frankly, destroy much of our military communications system.
We have to have a hedge against potential adversaries from misusing space and causing great harm to our satellites and our critical intelligence sensors. This $30 million in the defense bill for the tactical antisatellite contingency capability is that hedge.
So it is critical that we support the Armed Services Committee and the committee's position on this by tabling the Harkin amendment.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
Mr. HARKIN. How much time remains?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has 2 minutes and 32 seconds, and the Senator from Alaska has 32 seconds.
Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I will respond to my friend from Arizona again by saying first of all that the Army tried to handle this weapon several years ago. The Pentagon did not even want it during the Bush administration. The Clinton administration zeroed it out. Nobody thinks there is any necessity for this.
My friend from Arizona cannot name one rogue nation that even has a satellite, let alone the means to get it up there and keep it in orbit. No one has even the remotest possibility of doing this right now, No. 1.
Second, it is much cheaper to jam them electronically than it is to build an antisatellite weapons system and go up there and blast it out of space. We have technology right now to jam any satellite and electronically blind any of those satellites that are there. So it is much cheaper. We already have that technology.
Third, yes, I respond to my friend from Arizona by saying we have to do whatever we can to keep antisatellite weapons from outer space. I do not care who uses it. Even if we were to use them in the future, it would deny us accessibility to space.
The Senator from Arizona said to use that argument is like saying we should not bomb Baghdad, an enemy stronghold, because there would be rubble there. But that would not deny us access to a city or to an area because it all falls to the ground. But in outer space, with this junk orbiting for hundreds of years, it denies us that access to space. So while it might blast that satellite out, it also keeps us from using that availability in space either for military purposes or for domestic purposes.
So I just think this is $30 million that we ought to save for the taxpayers.
I yield the remainder of my time.
Mr. STEVENS. I yield back our time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time is yielded back.
Mr. STEVENS. I move to table the amendment, and I ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
There is a sufficient second.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, I ask that this amendment be set aside and that we proceed to vote on the first amendment, the Wellstone amendment, to reduce the proliferation level by $3.2 million.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
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