India’s ASAT Test: An Arms Race to Outer Space

DGnanavi Gummadi
Jindal Global Law School, O. P. Jindal University, India.

Volume II – Issue II, 2020

The paper aims to comprehensively discuss India’s successful Anti-Satellite Weapons (“ASAT”) test, Mission Shakti. India has joined the ranks of USA, Russia and China after the launch. It navigates through the current international framework governing the ASATs through the help of various outer space and weapons treaties like the Outer Space Treaty, UN Charter, Limited Test Ban Treaty, Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and also numerous customary international laws on the subject of ASATs. The paper will, then, try to study if India’s ASAT is violating any of these treaties. The discussion of the legal consequences of ASATs is essential to understand the gravity of the threat that ASATs pose to the humankind. The paper furthermore discusses the threats posed by the conduction of ASATs to the outer space environment in the form of debris and the security concerns associated with weapons usage in space. It argues that an arms race to space imminent. Moreover, the paper highlights the need for specific legislation which can contain and hold States responsible for their actions which threaten the environment of the outer space. Also, it discusses the State’s show of power through ASATs, which poses a grave risk to the cooperation amongst the international community. On the other hand, the paper also highlights the challenges in adopting uniform legislation on the matter mentioned earlier.


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