Astronauts and astronomers need better space governance

Jessica West Analysis and Commentary, Featured, News, Ploughshares Monitor, Space Security

On November 15, 2021, seven astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) were ordered to take shelter because of the possibility of catastrophic collisions as the station passed through a cloud of debris. The astronauts remained in lifeboats while the ISS passed through the cloud multiple times.

The AI-enhanced kill chain

Branka Marijan Analysis and Commentary, Emerging Technologies, Featured, News, Ploughshares Monitor

Military research and development in recent years have focused on artificial intelligence (AI) tools that gather and analyze data quickly. Combined with improved sensors, they make possible faster and seemingly more accurate targeting of enemy positions. Now this R&D is being operationalized. Last September, according to Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, the United States Air Force, for the first time, used AI to help to identify a target or targets in “a live operational kill chain.”

Arms control in outer space: Status, timeline, and analysis

Jessica West Featured, Reports, Space Security

Contrary to popular imagination, outer space is not a “Wild, Wild West” of lawlessness. Human activities in outer space are governed by international law, including the United Nations Charter, international humanitarian law (IHL), and, most critically, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST), which sets out broad principles on how states are to conduct themselves in this domain, including commitments to registration, due regard, responsibility, liability, and non-contamination.

What kinetic ASAT testing tells us about space security governance

Jessica West Featured, Reports, Space Security

The testing of kinetic anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons and the debris that they produce are currently garnering global attention and concern. This is partly because of the November 2021 ASAT test conducted by Russia; partly because of our expanding use and dependence on outer space; and partly because of the accelerating development, testing, and demonstration of kinetic ASAT capabilities.

Beyond Ukraine: AI and the next US-Russia confrontation

Branka Marijan Emerging Technologies, Featured, News, Research in Action

Two titans from the Cold War era seem set to go another round, this time over the prospect of Ukraine’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which the United States calls a sovereign Ukrainian decision and Russia opposes vehemently. Whatever the outcome of the current standoff, another confrontation between the United States and Russia that merits closer attention is brewing — one that may fundamentally reshape the US-Russia security relationship in the not-so-distant future.

The Sputnik moment re-examined

Jessica West Analysis and Commentary, Featured, Ploughshares Monitor, Space Security

A U.S. military official recently described a missile test conducted by China in August as “very close to a Sputnik moment.” It seems that the test involved the launch of a re-entry vehicle capable of entering orbit and re-entering Earth’s atmosphere with its payload intact; this primary vehicle also carried a hypersonic glide vehicle that was released following re-entry.

A new era in U.S.-Russia strategic stability?

Claire Wählen Analysis and Commentary, Featured, Nuclear Weapons, Ploughshares Monitor

During the Trump administration, relations between the United States and Russia deteriorated significantly, leading to the death of major arms control treaties, escalating cyberattacks, and retaliatory measures. On June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of his first foreign trip as U.S. President, Joe Biden met privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin to revive strategic stability talks. The meeting, which concluded with a joint presidential statement that calls for “ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war,” could mark the beginning of a new era of arms control diplomacy.

It’s not too late to save the Iran nuclear deal

Cesar Jaramillo Analysis and Commentary, Featured, Nuclear Weapons, Ploughshares Monitor

Donald Trump opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Iran nuclear deal) even before he became President of the United States. Despite his hostility, the deal survived his term in office, although not unscathed. Now new President Joe Biden is cautiously optimistic that it can be salvaged. But steps to preserve the deal must be taken immediately, before the already narrow window of opportunity fully closes.

The Safe Third Country Agreement in 2021

Kirsten Mosey Featured, Forced Displacement and Migration, Reports

New U.S. President Joe Biden has used Executive Orders to overturn the most extreme immigration policies of the Trump era. But deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are ongoing and immigration detention centres are still in operation. The United States does NOT meet the principles of safety required by Canadian and international law.

Could a new U.S. administration influence Canada’s arms export policy?

Kelsey Gallagher Analysis and Commentary, Conventional Weapons, Featured, News

In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Joe Biden pledged to end arms sales to countries fueling the war in Yemen—specifically, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. …