Dealing Huge: A Trumpian Arms Control Agenda

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un look at each others before signing documents that acknowledge the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. They are flanked by Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The White House knows that any denuclearization agreement with Pyongyang must assure North Korea ends its enrichment and reprocessing activities.

The Pentagon is now redoubling its efforts to develop stealthy, maneuvering spacecraft to dodge such attacks. It also is designing much more dispersed, survivable satellite systems. Unfortunately, most of these new satellites won’t be deployed for another decade. More important, even when they are, we still will rely heavily on older, more vulnerable satellites that Russia and China could knockout with “stalker” satellites. These older, critical satellites could be destroyed well before the United States could take appropriate defensive actions.

Avoiding this will require clarifying space rules of the road that would authorize any state to clear zones near their most important satellite systems before an effective attack to knock out any system of satellites might be launched. These controls might be combined with more traditional bans on other anti-satellite and space-weapon systems. It may be difficult to get Russia and China quickly to agree to such rules but we should clarify the shared security benefits of all nations doing so for their own security as the Pentagon upgrades America’s space satellite and control capabilities.

Is taking a hard-line against enrichment and reprocessing or competing to cap or eliminate strategic threats without risk? No. But even riskier still is pleading for restraints alone or arming and threatening others without offering safer alternatives. Dealing huge and winning on strategic security requires doing both.

Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future. He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the U.S. secretary of defense from 1989 to 1993

Image: U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Unlook at each others before signing documents that acknowledge the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. They are flanked by Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Pages