|II. THE NEED||III. THE TECHNOLOGY||IV. THE PROPOSALS|
The Case for International Surveillance and Verification
Most governments were introduced to the idea of peace-keeping satellites at the first U.N. Special Session on Disarmament in 1978. In the same yea, the General Assembly passed a resolution requesting governments to state their position on the establishment of the feasibility of the International Satellite Monitoring Agency proposal. The reaction in 1978 was enthusiastic, but not committed. Slowly an increasing body of knowledge and growing support has been developing for the peace-keeping satellite concept: first by the developed, neutral countries (Sweden, Finland, etc.) and by some NATO countries (Canada); then by the non-aligned, developing countries; and finally there is growing support from the communist countries. The United States, it appears, is still opposed to the idea, although a number of former high ranking officials have stated that such an organization would be beneficial for their country in the long term.
This chapter reviews the reactions of governments made to various proposals for international surveillance. It begins by looking at historical precedents. The Soviet reaction to the Open Skies proposal and to the first reconnaissance satellite missions are analysed. The statements made by governments in 1979 on the ISMA proposal are then analysed. The current positions of various governments is then noted. Finally, the possibilities for future agreement are analysed.
V. A. HISTORICAL PRECEDENTS
There are several important historical precedents to the peace-keeping satellite proposal. The Open Skies proposal, made by Eisenhower in 1955, drew a strong reaction from Soviet Premier Khruschev, as did the first U.S. reconnaissance satellites.
The Soviet Reaction to Open Skies
In a speech which immediately followed Eisenhower’s proposal for “Open Skies”, the Soviet Premier Bulganin promised to give the proposal sincere consideration. “For a time”, wrote Eisenhower, “it appeared that the intransigent Soviet refusal to permit any useful inspection system in the U.S.S.R. might be effectively shaken.”
Khruschev, however, held the real power in the Soviet Union and he was completely opposed to the plan. He called it a “bald espionage plot” and accused the Western Powers of wanting “to establish intelligence centres in our country so as to find out the vulnerable places, the location of our rockets troops and of vitally important targets … to plant nests of spies in our country under the guise of national inspectors.” The reason for all these plans, he said, was for “choosing the moment to attack the Soviet Union; there can be no other explanation.” (Burns, 1972). Eisenhower tried desperately to convince Khruschev of the merits of the proposal, but to no avail.
Creating a Climate of Legitimacy
While the United States was developing its first reconnaissance satellites, Khruschev complained that “American scientists have been given the task of designing Sputniks to be used for reconnaissance purposes” (Steinberg, 1983). He stated that these “espionage methods”, like the U-2 overflights, will be “paralysed and rebuffed.”
At the United Nations, the Soviet Union criticized strongly the U.S. satellite reconnaissance program. At meetings of the both the First Committee and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS, which had been formed in 1959) the Soviet Union campaigned against the use of reconnaissance satellites. They were declared illegal and an intrusion into a sovereign prerogative of States. The Soviets threatened to introduce a draft resolution before a subcommittee of COPUOS, which would condemn the use of spy-in-the-sky satellites. Were it to be adopted these satellites would be “shot down politically.”
The United States began a determined effort to coordinate U.S. space policy. This involved gaining the support of the international community for the reconnaissance missions. Ambram Chayes (Stares, 1985) recalls:
… it was decided to embark on a series of briefings of our closest allies. They were briefed quite fully, sometimes by the President on state visits, more often by special teams who talked only to the head of state, foreign minister, or defence minister and gave them a sense of what the scope of our program was, how good it was, and what its relation was to our overall strategic picture which was very intimate. Thus, when issues of this kind arose in the United Nations for example, these people understood the implications of the political issue and were prepared to give use support. This was really quite successful.
The U.S. sought to develop a “climate of legitimacy” concerning observation from outer space. It was pointed out that space was not under the sovereignty of any nation, and that observation from space was like observation from the high seas. Any non-aggressive behavior in outer space was therefore consistent with international law. Furthermore, the United States noted that photography from space for military and civilian purposes was indistinguishable. Therefor, to ban one type of use would require banning the other as well.
At the same time, public discussion of the military satellite reconnaissance programs was forbidden (to government employees). The administration feared that publicity may have been one of the causes that provoked the Soviets to renounce the reconnaissance missions. In addition, a proposal from the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) for advance notification of space launches was rejected since such action might “facilitate interference” with the satellites.
On September 9, 1963, the Soviet delegate to the Legal Subcommittee made a speech that was remarkable in that the customary objections to espionage satellites were omitted. There was evidence that the Soviet Union had established a reconnaissance program of its own. This was made apparent when Khruschev, in one of his visits in July 1963, offered to show satellite photos to the Belgian Foreign Minister!
In addition, it is possible that the Soviet leadership had learnt a lesson about the danger of excessive secrecy after they experienced the American response to the “missile gap.” Klass (1971) states: “By late 1963, at least a few Kremlin leaders had recognized, along with some of their American counterparts, that in an ICBM/thermonuclear age, secrecy and national security are not necessarily synonymous.”
In 1962, the U.S. had sponsored a resolution (A/16/1721B) which requested Member States to voluntarily submit information on launched objects. In 1976, the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space made the provision of such information mandatory to the parties of the Treaty. The Secretary-General maintains a registry which includes the date and location of launch, the basic orbital parameters (including period, inclination, apogee and perigee) and the general function of the space object. Such information has been supplied by Australia, Canada, China, the European Space Agency, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the U.S.S.R., the United Kingdom and the U.S.A.
Both the climate of legitimacy which has developed in the domain of satellite reconnaissance and the increasing involvement of the United Nations in space activities (United Nations, 1986) form part of the backdrop for the International Satellite Monitoring Agency proposal. The legality of using reconnaissance satellites for monitoring arms agreements has been fostered in the SALT treaties, and the leaders of both the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. have stated publicly the utility of such satellites. The SALT treaties further provide provisions that prohibit measures to disguise activities from observation and provisions that prohibit tampering with the “national technical means” of verification. The legality of reconnaissance satellite activities was assumed in the debate of the Outer Space Treaty (Goldblat, 1982).
The experts who completed the U.N. ISMA study (Secretary-General, 1981) looked at the legal issues and concluded that “there is no provision in international law, including space law, that would entail a prohibition for an international governmental organization such as ISMA to carry out monitoring activities by satellite.” According to one member of the Group of Experts (Danielsson, 1987), the set of agreed principles of remote sensing approved by consensus by COPUOS (A/41/20) in June, 1986, and the General Assembly (res. A/41/65) in December 1986, support the legal reasoning used in the ISMA study.
The principles represent the culmination of many years of work in the Legal Subcommittee of COPUOS. This subcommittee finally rejected proposals for a restricted dissemination regime involving “prior consent” from the nation which is being sensed. Rather remote sensing is based on a regime of “freedom of exploration and use of outer space on a basis of equality.” The primary and processed data gathered by the sensing state must be made available on a non-discriminatory basis and on reasonable (affordable) terms. The term “remote sensing” was defined in Principle I as the sensing of the Earth’s surface “for the purpose of improving natural resources management, land use and the protection of the environment.” Satellite remote sensing for reconnaissance and surveillance (the military context) is therefore not considered in the treaty.
The legal issues posed by an international reconnaissance satellite are not dealt thoroughly with in this review. Instead as an aid to further research in the area, a list of references which deal specifically with the issue of the legality of satellite remote sensing or reconnaissance is supplied: Soraghan (1967), McWhinney and Bradley (1969), Matte and DeSaussure (1976), Matte (1980), Reijen (1981), Christol (1982), Fawcett (1984), Thakur (1985), Hoskova (1985), Matte (1985).
V. B. THE ISMA PROPOSAL IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The first U.N. Special Session on Disarmament – also the tenth special session – was held from 23 May to 30 June 1978. All member states participated in the work of the session. It’s crowning achievement was the Final Document, adopted by consensus, which has stood the test of time and forms part of the foundation for progress in the area of multilateral disarmament. In addition, many new and creative ideas were presented at UNSSOD I.
The ISMA proposal was made by the President of France on May 25, 1978. A few days later, the French government submitted a memorandum to the General Assembly restating the ISMA proposal, which was to place satellite monitoring technology “at the service of the international community”. The Final Document of UNSSOD I made note of the proposal and referred discussion to the General Assembly session which was to take place in the fall of 1978.
The Final Document also presented the consensus view of the General Assembly on the question of verification of arms control agreements in general. There are three paragraphs devoted to verification. The words used in these were often repeated in subsequent communications and resolutions dealing with verification. The ideas contained in these passages constitute the corner stone of the international community’s commitment to verification. The passages were:
Paragraph 31. Disarmament and arms limitation agreements should provide for adequate measures of verification satisfactory to all parties concerned in order to create the necessary confidence and ensure that they are being observed by all parties. The form and modalities of the verification to be provided for in any specific agreement depend upon and should be determined by the purposes, scope and nature of the agreement. Agreements should provide for the participation of parties directly or through the United Nations system in the verification process. Where appropriate, a combination of methods of verification as well as other compliance procedures should be employed.
Paragraph 91: In order to facilitate the conclusion and effective implementation of disarmament agreements and to create confidence, States should accept appropriate provisions for verification in such agreements.
Paragraph 92: In the context of international disarmament negotiations, the problem of verification should be further examined and adequate methods and procedures in this field be considered. Every effort should be made to develop appropriate methods and procedures which are non-discriminatory and which do not unduly interfere with the internal affairs of other states or jeopardize their economic and social development.
Initial Views of Member States on ISMA
In 1978, during the regular fall session of the General Assembly, France introduced in the First Committee the question of making a study of ISMA. At this point American opposition became apparent. The words used by U.S. ambassador to describe the proposal were: premature, costly, ill-suited, and controversial. In spite of this, the General Assembly voted in favor of making preliminary study by 121 “yes” to zero “no”, with 18 abstentions. The abstentions came from the Soviet bloc countries and 1 western country – the United States.
As part of the resolution, the Member States were invited to submit their views on ISMA to the Secretary-General. These replies were published in document A/34/374. Thirty-eight countries responded. Most countries replied by giving a short affirmation of support, without expressing any reservations. They were: Argentina, Bolivia, Central Africa Empire, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Greece, India, Iraq, Italy, Kenya, Kuwait, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Qatar, Sweden, Turkey, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The Central Africa Empire further stated that “there will be no true disarmament until an authority is first established to exercise strict and effective monitoring and control on a world-wide scale.”
A second group of countries supported the project, but expressed concern about a number of potential problem issues. Austria, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Finland, Japan, Peru, and Spain expressed concern about the question of the cooperation of “those States already possessing experience in the field [of satellite surveillance]” (i.e. the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.). They all felt that superpower participation would be highly desirable. Austria pointed out that the increase in international confidence resulting from an ISMA would “in the final analysis also be in the self-interest” of the superpowers.
Many countries briefly noted that there were technical, financial, legal and political issues connected with ISMA which they hoped would be addressed in the Expert’s Report. Among the problem areas they mentioned were:
– the technology to be employed (Finland, FRG, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain);
– the type of activities to be observed (Austria, Canada);
– the legal aspects (Finland, Netherlands, Japan);
– the access and distribution of data (Austria, Portugal, Egypt, FRG, UK);
– the interpretation of data (Austria, Canada);
– the organizational structure (Austria, FRG, Netherlands, Portugal);
– the cost & efficiency (Austria, Canada, Egypt, Finland, FRG, Netherlands, Japan, UK).
None of these States, however, stated that the problems were insurmountable. Egypt, India and Spain stated that they would be willing to participate in ISMA as a member. Egypt noted that ISMA could be complimented by other methods of verification.
The only two Governments to voice disapproval of ISMA were Cuba and the United States (unusual partners). Cuba felt that monitoring “must be carried out carefully and be directly linked to effective disarmament measures.” This probably represented the Soviet view of the time as well. Also Cuba felt that such monitoring could “constitute interference in the internal affairs of States.” (NB: Cuba had maintained a long standing objection to inspection of its territory. In 1962, at the end of the Cuban missile crisis, Cuba would not allow the International Red Cross to oversee the dismantling of Soviet Missile Bases, even thought the Soviet Union and the U.S. had both agreed to this measure).
The United States felt that ISMA would be “neither feasible nor desirable”. It would be not feasible since “the establishment of satisfactory decision-making procedures” would be difficult, and the “control over and access to monitoring data within ISMA would be another intractable issue.” Furthermore, on the technical side, “the interpretation of the monitoring data is a very complex task”, which “may be dependent upon access to a variety of information gathered from many different sources.” Also, the U.S. felt the cost would be prohibitive. Lastly, verification capabilities “must be tailored to meet the need of specific agreements”. This was very similar to arguments that the Soviet Union had made for years (relating to “control without disarmament”).
The United States concluded by stating that verification “can most effectively be accomplished by parties to agreements themselves”. Australia directly addressed this issue in its submission to the Secretary-General:
The de facto exclusion of almost all States from the possibility to observe, for instance, the current status and deployment of strategic nuclear-weapon systems, which jeopardize the security of all States of the world, is one of the main reasons for the uneasiness and distrust of many States vis-a-vis those States that possess these weapon systems in unimaginable quantities and which at the same time are in the sole position to verify each other’s nuclear activities.
To respond to the allegation that ISMA would not be directly linked to disarmament measures and would constitute interference to national sovereignty, France stated that
The agency would act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and would respect the sovereign rights of States … The parties to a disarmament agreement would jointly specify the link to be established between the agreements in question and the agency’s monitoring work… [or] the agency might be called in by the Security Council in accordance with Article 34 of the United Nations Charter.
Several governments made additional arguments in support of ISMA in expressing their views. Australia pointed out that the proposal was “corresponds totally with the provisions of the Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly and, in particular, with its paragraph 31, concerning verification measures acceptable to all parties.” Australia also noted that the establishment of ISMA would reduce the risk of unleashing a nuclear-strategic war by error.
In a crisis situation the Powers concerned with analysing data obtained with the help of their own national technical means of verification could, because of subjective erroneous estimations and negative expectations concerning the attitude of the adversary, unleash a military conflict by error. The existence of an independent supplementary system of verification could in such a situation give a more objective and uninfluenced judgement and through its mitigating impact constitute a sort of international safety net for world peace.
Egypt said the ISMA proposal was “extremely valid and will be positively conducive to the solution of the problem of monitoring.” Italy noted that the philosophy of ISMA is similar to that of behind its own proposal for the establishment of a permanent body entrusted to verify disarmament measures.
Norway noted that ISMA would strengthen the role of the United Nations in the field of disarmament. Th Netherlands noted that verification through ISMA could “fill a need of all those parties which are unable to launch a satellite of their own” and was “thought-provoking also in the context of the peaceful settlement of disputes.”
Romania and Spain offered, in their communication to the Secretary-General, some new ideas about the operation of an ISMA. Romania stated that the disarmament under appropriate control “must be agreed upon by all States whether or not they possess nuclear weapons.” ISMA should be integrated with each step of the disarmament process and the agency could be financed from funds released by disarmament measures. ISMA should be operated within the framework of the United Nations and the results of the monitoring should be communicated to all States and to general public as well. At a later stage, the remote sensing capabilities of the agency could also be used for peaceful tasks. At the first stage, those countries which are most heavily armed “should make available to the agency, free of charge, a system of monitoring satellites.”
Spain suggested that if the study concludes that ISMA is feasible, a diplomatic conference should be convened to prepare a convention for the agency. It felt that in the final stage of ISMA, complete autonomy in launching, processing and interpretation would be necessary. The data distribution methods of ISMA should be devised as to not jeopardize the security of any country in the international community.
Subsequent United Nations Developments
Having received the preliminary study of the group of experts and the views of member states, the General Assembly requested an in-depth study to be completed in time for consideration at UNSSOD II. In voting on this resolution, the U.S.S.R. again joined the Untied States in abstaining.
At UNSSOD II, there was no formal discussion on ISMA. However, several remarks were made. The Netherlands stated, in a note verbale, that it found the French initiative “praiseworthy” and noted that the lack of a dedicated verification body was a “lacuna in the international disarmament structure.” It then described a reformulation of its proposal for an International Disarmament Organization. Although it supported using information from observation satellites, it had reconsidered the practicality of ISMA. In the short term, ISMA could “give rise to serious political and practical problems, including financial ones.” It doubted that the intrusive and indiscriminate collection of information” would be acceptable to all nations.
Japan, as described in a speech by the its Prime Minister and a subsequent note verbale (A/S-12/AC.1/43), held “it desirable in the long run to form an international verification unit within the framework of the United Nations, which is recognized as a universal international organizations with impartial authority.” Japan further suggested, as a first step, the establishment of a special division within the U.N. Centre for Disarmament that would collect compliance and verification information and maintain lists of experts “in order to develop and maintain the capabilities of the United Nations to offer technical assistance, especially in the area of fact-finding.” Japan also suggested performing a study of ways of assuring compliance with arms control and disarmament agreements.
The Swedish Undersecretary of State for Disarmament, Mrs. Inga Thorsson (1982), said in an interview in September 1982:
The smaller nations have maintained from the beginning that we cannot possibly allow the superpowers, who have the technical resources at this time for space activities, to have the monopoly on observation satellites of this kind. Satellite information must be shared by the international community …
At Unispace ’82, the second world meeting of governments to deal with questions of the use of outer space, was held in August 1982. Apparently initiatives to discuss ISMA were blocked by the superpowers.
In order to keep the ISMA issue alive, the government of France proposed a resolution in the 1982 regular session, that requested the SG to “report on practical arrangements for implementing the conclusions on the institutional aspects of the proposal [chapter 2, section V of the study]; and include the item in the provisional agenda of the 38th regular session.” The First Committee resolution (A/C.1/37/L.55) in support of the French request was co-sponsored by 34 countries. In the General Assembly, the resolution was adopted 126, 9 (U.S.S.R.), 11 (U.S.). In this case, the U.S.S.R. and associated countries voted against the proposal, instead of abstaining, as it had done in the previous two General Assembly votes of this question. Cuba, however, did not make that switch: it abstained.
The Soviet statement on the justification of its vote uses the reasoning that the agency would establish a monitoring and control procedure without any link to actual disarmament measures and, in its opinion, the legal nature of the agency was still in question.
In his report on Oct 5, 1983, the Secretary-General notes that the General Assembly “would have to decide upon a process and a legal framework which could result in the establishment of an ISMA.”
Since 1983, several countries have begun new initiatives which support the ISMA concept. The background momentum for a new initiative in verification has been building in many different ways, some of them relating directly to the United Nations, others not.
V. C. CURRENT GOVERNMENT POSITIONS
The ISMA proposal has not been formally considered in the General Assembly since 1983. However, there have been various statements and actions made by governments which indicate a change in policy, if any has occurred.
France still maintains an interest in the monitoring and verification potential of surveillance satellites. On Feb 7, 1984 French President F. Mitterand proposed (Voute, 1985) creation of a European Space Community to run in parallel with the European Economic Communities. Its task would be to strengthen the European military defence, and it could include the launch of a manned space station to be used for surveillance purposes. At a French-German summit in May 1984, a joint military reconnaissance satellite program was considered. The French plans for their own reconnaissance satellite program (Samro) suffered a financial cut back in 1982. The Samro’s imaging system and telemetry links would have been adapted from the French SPOT and the European ERS-1 satellite systems.
In Europe there is still substantial interest in an ISMA The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (with 21 member states) stated its support of ISMA at UNISPACE ’82 (Voute, 1985). It recommended that the member states should examine renewed initiates on ISMA either individually or collectively or in association with non-European industrialized or developing countries that have space activities. The Council of Europe went even further at its “North-South Conference: Europe’s Role” (in Lisbon, 9-11 April 1984). It recommended that plans should be jointly made with developing countries for projects such as ISMA to ensure worldwide access to satellite-gained remote sensing information.
The Western European Union (WEU – the European NATO partners plus France) has discussed proposals for satellite monitoring systems to operate in a WEU or an international setting (Voute, 1985). The Dutch government, as a member of the WEU, is considering initiating or supporting the creation of a European satellite agency, incorporating for surveillance for international peace and security. Such an agency would “promote an integrated European security cooperation and a more important role of Europe within the NATO alliance” (Voute, 1987).
The notion of a regional satellite monitoring agency (RSMA) for monitoring and arms control verification in a specific area has been gathering support. At a Tokyo Seminar on Peace, Science and Technology it was suggested by 22 participants from 13 countries that an RSMA could be established as an initial ISMA (United Nations University, 1984).
Europe has been suggested as a possible location for RSMA operation, as described by Dr. C. Voute (1985). In addition to the special need for monitoring military developments in that region, Europe , with a well organized intergovernmental space project infrastructure (through ESA and Interkosmos), would be well suited to address the technical aspects of an RSMA. An RSMA limited to Europe or begun outside the U.N. should include provisions for its eventual inclusion in the United Nations.
A number of statements have been made by government officials of the Nordic countries indicating growing support for ISMA and RSMA. In Sweden, the idea of a European satellite verification system is being considered by the National Defence Research Institute (Dahlman, 1986; Orhaug, 1984). The data from this system would be provided either to all European countries or only to the neutral and non-aligned countries. As proposed (Dahlman, 1986), initially the European system would have to rely on Soviet or American reconnaissance satellites, but later on it would launch international satellites. A European Centre for Satellite Data Exchange would collect, process, compile, distribute and analyse imaging data. The interpretation of the data, however, would be carried out at a national level.
According to the Swedish Prime Minister, Sweden and India have also been working on a proposal for neutral countries to provide verification procedures using several means including satellite reconnaissance (Lewis, 1986).
Finland supported the creation of an ISMA and in October 1986, proposed the creation of a United Nations verification database (A/C.1/41/PV.18). Member States would contribute a wide range of information pertaining to arms control and disarmament to the database and it could “be strengthened by the establishment of ISMA”.
In England, the Social Democrat Party (SDP) supports the concept of international verification (Owen, 1987). Wayland Kennett and Elizabeth Young (1982) in their book “Neither Red nor Dead: The case for Disarmament”, state: “Verification is a common international interest which must be provided with its own international structure and equipment.”
Italy has been a proponent of a permanent international verification body, which would have the participation of all countries. This “would give the best guarantees of compliance in fulfillment of the obligations deriving form agreements, would strengthen the principle of undiminished security at all stages of the disarmament process, and would foster the goal of the universality of disarmament agreement” (A/S-12/AC.1/19). Italy proposes the formation of new section within the U.N. Secretariat whose preliminary responsibilities would be data collection, dissemination and research to assist U.N. disarmament efforts. At a later stage the structure might be transformed to a “Centre for the Verification of Disarmament Agreements”, having inspectors and a structure possibly similar to the IAEA. In the third and final stage, an Agency with extended activities and independence could be entrusted with verification. The ISMA “would indeed provide a vast range of information, acquired through sophisticated technical means, which would complete and in some cases substitute for operations performed by the international verification body and its inspectors”.
Nearly a hundred non-aligned countries were represented at the Eighth summit Conference of the Heads of State or Government of Non-aligned Countries held at Harare, Zimbabwe in September 1986. In the final document (annexed to U.N. document A/41/697) the Heads of State or Government “invited the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament to explore the ways and the means of bringing satellites for military purposes under international control, particularly when it puts at stake the security of the non-aligned countries.” Also they stressed that “the United Nations represented the most appropriate international forum with the central role in the maintenance of international peace and security and peaceful settlement of international disputes and crises …” The nations endorsed a “strengthening of collective action in order to increase the influence and role of the non-aligned in world affairs, especially with reference to upholding full observance of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law as the foundations of peaceful coexistence between States.”
They dealt with several related issues as well. In regard to the weaponization of space, they agreed that “the universally accepted objective of general and complete disarmament under effective international control demands that outer space should not be transformed into an arena for pursuing the arms race.” Also, they affirmed the need to establish “the New International Information and Communications Order on the basis of the free and balanced flow of information and speedily to remove disparities in communications abilities which in the era of rapid technological advances create new imbalances and place new and complex obstacles to democratization of the global information and communications process.”
The United States
The United States was opposed to ISMA from the beginning. Its position on ISMA, described above, has not changed. There are no indications that the U.S.A., under the Reagan administration, will support ISMA.
In regard to the Principles relating to Remote Sensing which had been developed by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the U.S. delegate to the Special Political Committee expressed pleasure (U.S. Mission to the United Nations, 1986) with the adoption of the principles, and stated that the recommendations embodied in these Principles reflect conditions that are essential to the growth and development of civil remote sensing activities. He then noted that the term remote sensing was defined in the Principles to include only sensing for certain purposes.” He also emphasized that the Principles were “only recommendatory in character; they cannot, in and of themselves, posses legal force … Nor in our view, would the embodiments of these principles in a new legal instrument be necessary or desirable.”
In response to a Soviet proposal for a World Space Organization (WSO) for the promotion of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space and the monitoring of an agreement to prevent to weaponization of space, the United States objected on the grounds that it was not appropriate for the First Committee to consider the matter. Rather, they stated that the Special Political (which operates by consensus) should be the proper forum. In the General Assembly draft resolution (A/40/87), containing an operative paragraph requesting the Secretary-General to invite the views of the member states on the question of enhancing international cooperation in space, the United States (along with Grenada only) voted against the operative paragraph. The U.S. “opposes supplanting well-established multilateral forums with unnecessary and potentially counterproductive new machinery” (A/41/470).
It is interesting to contrast this attitude to that of the Eisenhower period. When President Eisenhower announced his Open Skies proposal the response was very positive. The U.S. Congress “in an outburst of bipartisan acclaim” welcomed the proposal as “a bold but practical diplomatic move sure of providing America’s own peaceful intentions and certain of testing those of the Russians” (Rostow, 1982).
The Soviet Union
The Soviet Union has had, up until recently, a consistent record of resisting the development of international control and inspection capabilities. After World War II, the United States proposed many bold initiatives to establish international systems for verification (see Chapter 4), sometimes to the exasperation of the Soviet delegates. The Soviets appeared very concerned about maintaining a tightly closed society (the Iron Curtain), with great secrecy about any of their military actions and they resisted any system which would jeopardize their Security Council veto. At present, however, the Soviet Union is undertaking many foreign (and other) policy changes and this includes their approach to the question of third party verification.
The Soviet view on verification has changed and there are many examples of this shift in attitude. American seismic detectors, were installed by a American group of scientists (of the National Resources Defence Council) near the Soviet nuclear test site with the permission of the Soviet government and the cooperation of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. This type of agreement for verification was unprecedented. On July 14, 1986, the Soviet General Secretary of CPSU (Gorbachev, 1986a), speaking to a gathering of scientists, stated his government’s willingness to carry out such activities: “The Soviet Union will agree to any, even the most radical, forms of control, both national and international, including on-site inspection and installation of monitoring equipment.”
The changed attitude towards verification applies in other areas as well. On the subject of chemical weapons, the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, in a speech made on January 15, 1986, promised adherence to “strict control including international on-site inspection” for a treaty providing for the destruction of chemical weapons facilities and stockpiles. “Being convinced that there is no trust without verification,” said Eduard Shevardnadze in his speech to the 41st session of the General Assembly. “The Soviet Union is open to any form or method to achieve it”.
In the same U.N. speech, the Soviet Foreign Minister also said: “The UN is the only legitimate trustee of space peace, whatever the area of international relations, the role of the UN is indispensable everywhere and its responsibility is great”. The Soviet Union introduced a proposal for the creation of a World Space Organization in 1985 (see Chapter 4). The organization would be established to enhance international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. In 1986, the proposal was introduced in a very mild form, as paragraph 5 of resolution 40/87 in which the General Assembly
Requests the Secretary-General to invite Member States to submit their views on the possibility of enhancing international cooperation in the field of preventing an arms race in outer space and the peaceful uses of outer space, including the desirability of establishing relevant machinery for that purpose…
The replies due to this resolution will be published after the present review will have been completed.
Another measure, considered a breakthrough in the area of confidence building, is the adoption by both NATO and Warsaw Pact countries of the Document of the Stockholm Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe in September 1986 (CCSBMDE, 1986). The 35 nations participating in the conference made a declaration which involved prior notification of certain military activities (for example, the mobilization of over 13,000 troops) and included provisions for the observation of certain military activities. These latter activities include exercises involving over 17,000 troops. The host state is to provide the observers (each participating States may send up to two) with transportation to and from the area of the observed activities. There is no obligation, however, for any State to accept more that three inspections per year (a Soviet stipulation).
It seems that only time will tell if, in the words of the former Canadian Ambassador to the U.S.S.R., the West “should take a chance on Gorbachev” (Pearson, 1986) and proceed with serious arms control and disarmament negotiations.
The Canadian response to the 1978 proposal, as expressed in a letter to the Secretary-General (A/34/374), stated that Canada agrees (with France) that the purpose of ISMA “shall be to advance disarmament efforts and the strengthening of international security and confidence”, subject to some preliminary comments. These were that (1) the treaties ISMA would verify should be specified before the agency is created, (2) the cooperation of the “those States which have practical experience in this field” would be essential for the conduct of the feasibility study, (3) there should be some mechanism to limit the scope of the remote sensing data accumulation, (4) the final judgement on the ISMA should only be made after a thorough investigation and international discussion over its organization and cost, (5) the cost of maintaining a storage library of ISMA data should be considered.
Canada was a co-sponsor of the 1979 General Assembly resolution which asked the Secretary-General to conduct an in-depth ISMA feasibility study. This study was to be finished in time for the second special session devoted to disarmament (UNSSOD II). The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence (SCEAND) held public hearings in order to determine the positions which Canada should adopt at UNSSOD II. They were addressed by several people and groups who advocated ISMA, including Science for Peace (see Chapter IV). The report produced by the Standing Committee stated:
The Committee believes strongly that the Government should support in principle the establishment of an ISMA and seek to work out a satisfactory agreement concerning its authority and functions in co-operation with other members of the world community. At UNSSOD II, Canada should give affirmative support to discussions on this question, with a view to our active participation in the agency.
They noted at the same time that there could be technical, financial organizational and other difficulties with the proposal.
In his speech UNSSOD II, the Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau (1982), did not address the question of ISMA, but made very relevant remarks on verification in general:
Of course the whole edifice [of arms control] rests on key assumptions about verification, and it is to the theory and practice of verification that we must increasingly give attention … when we speak of verification by ‘national technical means’ we have in mind the vast range of activity that is detectable by the magic eye of highly sophisticated satellites plying their intrusive orbits around the globe. I sometimes wonder whether we realize the immensity of the leap we have made, and whether a certain reluctance in accepting the rigors of verification is not an insufferable anachronism …
National technical means may not be adequate for verifying arms control and disarmament agreements. Consequently, the international community should address itself to verification as one of the most significant factors in disarmament negotiations in the 1980s.
Mr. Trudeau then stated that his government was expanding the Canadian research program in verification. Support for verification research has continued under the present government (Dorn, 1986).
One of the last parliamentary Acts sponsored by the Trudeau Government Parliament was the creation of the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security (Pearson, 1986). The verification of arms control treaties is one of the very many topics to which this institute has addressed itself.
At UNSSOD II the Canadian delegation did not mention ISMA. Neither was the question of ISMA given the attention it deserved by the press in Canada. “Such ‘insufferable anachronisms’ as the primacy of domestic questions over fears in regard to global disaster, quickly relegated these matters to the back pages or to no pages at all” (Polanyi, 1982).
In 1985, Canada introduced the first ever General Assembly resolution (A/40/152o) dealing solely with verification. The resolution, “Verification In All Its Aspects”, was adopted unanimously. In it, the General Assembly reiterated its views on verification and called for member states to submit their views to the Secretary-General. Specifically, it reaffirmed the verification sections (paragraphs 31 and 91, 92) of the Final document of UNSSOD I (A/S-10/2) about the need for adequate and appropriate provisions for verification in arms control and disarmament agreements. Furthermore the resolution stated that such agreements should (1) provide measures of verification which are dependent on the nature and scope of the agreement, (2) provide for the “participation of parties directly or through the United Nations system in the verification process”; and (3) where appropriate, provide for “a combination of several methods of verification”. Verification measures should be satisfactory to all parties concerned, appropriate, objective, non-discriminatory and should not “unduly interfere with the internal affairs of other states or jeopardize their economic development.”
In the forty-first session of the General Assembly (1986), Canada again introduced and saw adopted unanimously a verification resolution. It contained much of the same wording as the first resolution but took the matter a step further. In it, the General Assembly “urges Member States and groups of member states possessing verification expertise to consider means by which they can contribute to, and promote the inclusion of adequate verification measures in arms limitation and disarmament agreements.” In addition, it requests the Disarmament Commission (which meets for a month in New York each year) to consider the “principles, provisions and techniques” to promote the inclusion of adequate verification in agreements and investigate the role of the United Nations and its Member States in the field of verification.
In June 1986, the Canadian parliament formed a special committee to report on issues relating to Canada’s international relations. Senators and members of House of Commons spent 11 months to prepare the report, entitled “Independence and Internationalism”, six months of which were for public hearings. Some of the long-standing essence of Canadian policy on national and international peace and security is described in the publication of that committee: “We see practically no point in thinking of national security as distinct from international security.” Of relevance to the peace-keeping satellite proposal is the expression of the need to strengthen international institutions to deal with the world’s problems. The committee recommends an international system to register exports and imports of weapons and munitions as one means of controlling the expanded trade in conventional weapons. They believe that Canada could seek international support for this concept. Of greater relevance is the recommendation of the development of an international inspection system, and an international agreement covering prompt warnings about nuclear accidents. They suggest that Canada encourage wider and earlier use of fact finding and observation on a regular basis by the United Nations Secretary-General and his nominees. They also see a need for the SG, in concert with the Security Council to survey more regularly and systematically the world wide state of international peace and security.
They view Canadian efforts to develop arms control verification techniques as important work for Canada. It “corresponds to Canadian skills” and is “tailored to Canada’s particular attributes as a member of the Western Alliance that nevertheless retains a degree of objectivity about superpower conflict.” The committee placed priority on the recruitment and development of “analytical expertise on which a more active Canadian role in the field [of strategic, arms control and disarmament issues] must be based ” They applauded the creation of the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security and advocate continued support of the United Nations peace-keeping forces. In addition, Canada “should explore ways of reviving interest in and support for peace-keeping.”
Responses to “Verification In All Its Aspects”
The views of member states on verification and the U.N. role, are stated in their replies to resolution A/40/152(o), which are published in a report of the Secretary-General (A/41/422). The replies came from all ends of the spectrum of nations: Eastern, Western Nations, as well as the neutral and nonaligned.
All the nations (which had responded by 11 July 1986) stressed the importance of including verification measures in arms control and disarmament agreements. Most nations repeated the ideas expressed on verification in the UNSSOD I Final Document.
Most states called for an increased United Nations or international role in verification. Many recognized the positive role played by the IAEA and several considered positively the concept of an international verification system or organization (Austria, Byelorussian SSR, Canada, China, Mexico, Norway – for a CTB, Sweden – for a chemical weapon treaty, U.S.S.R. – for chemical weapon, CTB and outer space treaties).
Canada stated that an international verification organization (IVO) could either have responsibilities for general verification of treaties using a specific technology (such as ISMA, using satellites) or it could have the responsibility to verify a particular treaty using a variety of technologies. “It is conceivable that, over time, such agreement-specific IVOs could serve as stepping stones toward the creation of a general IVO with broader responsibilities.”
Other countries made a number of other salient points. Argentina stated that verification machinery should be based on “equality of the parties’ rights and obligations” and should be accessible to all parties. Austria noted that it was “easier to verify a complete ban on a given weapons system that numerical limitations” and that multilateral agreements usually contain “only weak provisions for verification”. China felt that an international verification system should be established step by step. The GDR noted that over 300 safeguard inspections have been made on its territory by the IAEA, and that it supports the IAEA role in the Non-Proliferation Treaty. the Netherlands, writing on behalf of a dozen State members of the European community, felt that verification should exist for long-term monitoring as well as for the observation of immediate disarmament. The Swedish government noted its long-standing commitment to verification and noted agreement in the area of chemical weapons on the setting up of a “full-fledged organization for handling the implementation of fact-finding procedures, data exchange, inspection missions, etc.” The U.S.S.R. reiterated its willingness to submit itself to international forms of verification including on-site inspection if necessary. The United States did not submit a response.
The United Nations Secretary-General
The United Nations Secretary-General has made several statements regarding an enhanced role for the U.N. in the area of verification. In his 1985 annual report he stressed the need for “a wider and earlier use of fact-finding and observation.” In his 1986 Annual Report on the Work of the Organization (A/41/1), he suggested that the General Assembly explore further the ability of the United Nations to assist in arrangements for the verification and compliance of arms control and disarmament agreements. He suggested the establishment of a “nuclear alert centre to reduce the risk of fatal misinterpretation of unintentional nuclear launchings or, in the future, the chilling possibility of isolated launchings by those who may clandestinely gain access to nuclear devices.” Needless to say, an ISMA would find its role in both proposals.
A working group of the Disarmament Commission (A/CN.10/84), in its “findings, recommendations and proposals”, suggests that the role of the Secretary-General should be strengthened in the areas of the “investigation of allegations of treaty violations or other developments that may threaten international peace and security”. The Department of Disarmament Affairs was also to be strengthened in this regard, according to the report.