The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) published on Monday, January 17, a series of measures defining its “general space policy,” intended to protect its members from possible space attacks, citing specific threats that could lead to major catastrophes.
The document officially published by the NATO allies indicates that their collective defense principles will no longer be limited to the terrestrial plane but will also extend to outer space in response to several identified threats that could significantly impact society.
At the Brussels summit in 2021, NATO agreed that “attacks to, from, or within space present a clear challenge to the security of the Alliance.” Now with this document, they confirmed and actioned their statements.
In this sense, the document establishes that in the event of space attacks of any kind on members of the organization, Article 5 of the founding treaty will be implemented, which states that an attack on any of the 30 allies will be considered an attack on all of them. Until now, it had only been applied to traditional military attacks by land, sea, or air.
Currently, around two thousand satellites orbit the Earth, and more than half of these were launched and are operated by NATO members.
These satellites are the key to the normal functioning of society and security on planet Earth. Without them, mobile telephony, banking systems, meteorological services, communication systems that allow the operation of modern aircraft, warships, missile detectors, and other not minor issues could not exist.
An attack on any of these satellites could involve serious immediate consequences on Earth.
“Space is an inherently global environment and any conflict that extends into space has the potential to affect all users of space. Even in cases where NATO is not involved in conflict, Allies’ space systems could be affected,” the paper says.
The paper warns of “potential adversaries” with space-based damage capabilities. These “capabilities” can range from non-kinetic (such as dazzling, blinding, and jamming space assets) to destructive kinetic systems (such as direct-ascent anti-satellite missiles).
These attacks could come from enemy governments and non-state actors, including international terrorist organizations.
The U.K. Space Command, a major NATO ally, expressed its support for the policy via a statement on Twitter, “Space is a congested & competitive domain which is increasingly important for civilian and military activities.”
The NATO statement was issued a few days after the Chinese communist regime announced that during 2022 they have more than 40 launches planned as they continue to develop a space station. The statement was interpreted as an actual space race with major space-faring countries such as the United States.