The armament of space is a growing threat to international security, and an imminent topic on political agendas around the world as countries begin seeking military advancements in outer space. Such armament is likely to be spurred by the desire of many countries to not only protect their holdings in space, but to become the dominant military in this arena. Current treaties in place limit the use of nuclear weapons in space, but the creation of more restrictive policies is necessary in order to eliminate the causes and consequences of such armament. Consequences of weapons testing in space can span multiple future generations, and current technological advances only increase the urgency for policymakers to pursue a limitations treaty. Though a difficult endeavor, it is vital to pursue regulations that will enable the continued peaceful use of space and diffuse the threat of armament.
Due to the possibility of new militaristic threats, countries are more likely to take steps towards protecting their assets in space against potential destruction. In the near future, the United States will begin to research and develop weapons systems in order to protect existing infrastructure in space. Since the US utilizes space for many peaceful functions, the drive to protect capabilities in space will slowly move towards the forefront of political debate. As described by Steven Myers (2008), “our adversaries understand our dependence upon space-based capabilities and we must be ready to respond to any threat to our space infrastructure” . This realization may urge policymakers to research space armament, as the protection of assets in space requires military structures to be put in place as an act of deterrence against the interference of other nations.
As financial and technological barriers to the space services industry decreases, especially via the rise of entrepreneurs like Elon Musk who have paved the way for a private space industry, there has been the inevitable increase in the number of both governmental and private investors with assets in space. With the increase of actors has come the abundance of satellites owned by multiple states. A majority of countries rely on satellites to coordinate military actions, meaning that satellite-based programs have become "integral to the military strategies of a growing number of states" . As such, the prospect of the destruction of these satellites and the immediate consequences to military capacity and the overall functioning of a state looms. If a country’s satellites are successfully destroyed by an enemy state, the target state can be left vulnerable to attack and unable to coordinate a fighting force. Consequently, as the importance of our satellites grows, so does the need to protect them.
A new space treaty would ideally place multilateral controls on weapons in space and establish monitoring and verification procedures. The United Nation’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security produces a Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) Resolution on an annual basis. The PAROS Resolution of 2013 advocated the complete ban of armament in space, while acknowledging that the current Outer Space Treaty does not guarantee the prevention of an arms race in space . By addressing the deficiencies of the Outer Space Treaty, the UN shows its desire to fix current deficiencies and move towards further prohibitions on weapons use in space. Despite this, the UN lacks the support of the US on PAROS, with the US deeming the agreement unnecessary, because of the current nonexistence of weapons in space. While true, the US has not accounted for future developments. Without a preexisting treaty, it will be difficult to establish agreements once that point has been passed.
The reluctance of the US to partake in a space armament prevention treaty has spurred fears that regulations without its signature would have less impact on arms control policy. Since the US has such a strong military, civilian, and commercial presence in space, it would be senseless to try to incur treaties without it. By not partaking in a treaty, the US could still operate independently of any rules, rendering any treaty between other nations null.
Currently, there are many challenges threatening the ability to create policies that will curtail the armament of space. In space, almost anything can be used as a weapon, with something the size of "a tiny rock" having the capability of destroying a massive satellite  due to the speeds at which objects travel in orbit around the Earth. From this emerges the difficulty in classifying which objects can be considered weapons, making verification and enforcement near impossible. The dual-use nature of many of our assets in space indicates that, even if something is not designed for use as a weapon in space, such as a satellite, it could still be used as one. If we cannot identify what a weapon is, we cannot regulate or enact prohibitions on weapons.
The consequences of arming space must be weighed when determining the type of arms control regime to put in place, as new regulations can negatively impact the peaceful uses of space that we have become dependent on. If war were to be waged in outer space on a large scale, it would damage our future ability to use space peacefully by increasing the proliferation of space debris around the earth. From the past fifty years of activity in space, the debris left behind has already become hazardous to spacecraft attempting to maneuver through the debris field, a main reason why the United States and the Soviet Union did not continue with ASAT testing during the Cold War . If greater pollution of debris was to occur, space itself could be become unusable, resulting in a collapse of the global economic system, followed by air travel and communications.
The need for arms control in space will slowly become a vital topic on the agendas of international politicians. At this point in time, US military goals in space and desire for hegemony make the possibility of a multilateral agreement for arms control treaties in space unlikely. Without treaties and resolutions to regulate and limit armament, we risk extreme consequences to our everyday lives. The armament of space will need to be mitigated on an international scale in the near future in order to reduce the threat of major war, economic destruction, and global insecurity.