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U.S. Policy Aims To Safeguard, Expand Peaceful Use of Space

13 December 2006

State's Joseph says policy continues to emphasize international cooperation

Washington -- The United States is committed to safeguarding and expanding the peaceful uses of space, a senior State Department official says.

Speaking December 13 about the U.S. National Space Policy, Robert Joseph, the under secretary of state for arms control and international security, said the U.S. commitment to exploring and using outer space "by all nations for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of all humanity” is the first principle of that policy.

Updates to the policy –- the first in nearly 10 years -- were announced in October. (See related article.)

The United States, Joseph said in remarks at the George C. Marshall Institute, will continue to lead in expanding the use of space for peaceful purposes.

"Our advances in space in the fields of communication, medicine, and transportation, as well as many others, have come to benefit not just Americans, but all of mankind, including citizens of countries that have not yet ventured into space," said Joseph.

Citing examples in the medical field, he said that computer-assisted tomography (CAT scans) and magnetic resonance imaging tests "came from technology developed to enhance pictures of the moon during the Apollo program."  In addition, kidney dialysis machines resulted from a NASA-based chemical process; the technology in insulin pumps was developed for the Mars Viking spacecraft; and NASA satellite electrical systems were used to make the first programmable heart pacemakers, he said.

Joseph said U.S. space policy "has not changed significantly from the beginning of our ventures into space."  From the beginning, the United States has avoided monopolizing the use of space and has not denied other nations access to it for peaceful purposes.

Policy elements added in October concern "increased actions to ensure the long-term security of our space assets in light of new threats, and as a result of our increased use of space."  These actions include "ensuring access to space-based imaging, communication, and positioning, navigation, and timing assets."

To ensure continued unhindered access to space, said Joseph, the United States must have "a full range of options to deter and defend against threats to our space infrastructure."  The national space policy provides deterrence by providing "a clear statement of what interests are vital."

The United States has "made clear that protecting space assets is a vital national interest," said Joseph.  No government or nonstate entity should be misled that the United States will abide the denial of its right to the peaceful use of space, he said. (See related article.)

However, Joseph said, the U.S. right to self-defense does not indicate the United States is claiming space for its own. On the contrary, the policy places significant emphasis on international cooperation and encourages other nations to join in President Bush’s vision of returning to the moon and landing men on Mars. The United States remains committed to broad international initiatives like the International Space Station and is embracing such initiatives “to a greater degree than ever before,” according to Joseph.

Through diplomacy, the United State s will continue working to ensure that all nations benefit from the peaceful use of space, he said. The new policy is meant to be neither a hostile nor a unilateral approach, he said, but rather "reasoned judgments and a positive path to a more secure and prosperous future."

The full text of Joseph’s prepared remarks is available on the State Department’s Web site.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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