Thursday, January 31, 2013

India's Policy Approach to Space Security and Cyber Security, my presentation at the Chatham House conference on cyber and space security....

Last week, Chatham House organised a one-day conference, "Making the Connection: The Future of Cyber and Space," identifying trends and developments in cyber and space technology, weigh the risks posed by
dependence with the broader social benefits, assess implications for national and international security, examine the role of the public and private sector in mitigating threats and building resilience, and finally, discuss national and international policy approaches.
I was also speaking at the workshop addressing India's approach to both outer space and cyber space security. Brief outline of my presentation is given below.

Space and cyber security challenges are generally considered the emerging frontiers in our security discourse although the reality is that they present clear and present danger to India and the rest of the world already. While the challenges are known and acknowledged by states, the difficulty has been the lack of an agreed approach in addressing these challenges. Therefore, unlike in the nuclear arena, space and cyber continue to be driven by certain broad definitional understanding without specific guidelines and norms on permissible activities or capabilities that will ensure the long-term sustainability of outer and cyber space. Therefore, the need to define and communicate clear boundaries at all the different levels while developing certain norms of responsible behavior are essential steps in securing the both the outer space and cyber domain.

On the outer space domain, even as India continues with the official stance of non-weaponisation of outer space, the fact remains that China’s ASAT test has upped the ante and stirred a new debate in the Indian establishment about the need for ASAT capabilities as well as other potential applications in the military domain. However, there is continuity in the official policy of India, which is prevention of weaponisation of outer space while strengthening arms control measures in space.

On cyber security, India’s policy approach is guided by two drivers of national security and social harmony. Although India’s policy approach used to be driven primarily by the former concern, given the large number of hacking and jamming-related incidents in India or Indian missions abroad. Lately, the debate has shifted to one with a greater emphasis on social cohesion, which has resulted in stricter monitoring and surveillance of internet and social media activities.

Meanwhile, India has not yet given serious attention to the issue of cyber-linked attack on outer space. Given that satellite communication networks are connected to the internet, the vulnerabilities of the space sector using cyber means have increased exponentially. Under this scenario, the theatre of conflict, means and impact are going to be felt across the domains. What was once possible by states that had hi-tech capabilities, today this is in the realm of possibilities to any cyber-savvy hacker. The threat is not simply destruction or damage of satellites but much beyond including deny or counterfeit satellite transmissions, access and leak data collected by sensors, send in wrong data among other things.

The convergence of space and cyber domains present a complex challenge. Given this cross-domain nature of challenges in the space and cyber domains, states have to invest in regional and global efforts to understand these environments on a real time basis.

Type rest of the post here

Thursday, January 17, 2013

story on India's missile defence in the latest issue of Arms Control Today.... quotes me too ....

Here's a story by Eric Auner on the latest advances in India's missile defence programme, "Indian Missile Defense Program Advances."

India is pressing ahead with its work on missile defense, conducting its latest successful test last November and preparing to test a new kind of interceptor early this year.

In its Nov. 23 announcement of the test earlier that day, India said it had demonstrated the ability to intercept multiple incoming missiles. The test, which was the latest in a series dating to 2006, follows several tests in 2012 of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, including the successful launch in April of the 5,000-kilometer-range Agni-5. (See ACT, May 2012.)

India also has tested the sea-launched version of the hypersonic Brahmos cruise missile, jointly developed with Russia. In addition, air- and submarine-launched versions of the Brahmos missile are in development.

Indian media reports suggest that a test of a new high-altitude anti-missile interceptor will occur in January and that India may soon test a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) for the first time, bringing the country closer to possessing a triad of nuclear weapons delivery systems. (See ACT, September 2012.)

For the full story, click here.

India’s nuclear-armed neighbors, China and Pakistan, have significant cruise and ballistic missile capabilities. China has taken steps to acquire missile defense capabilities although Pakistan apparently has not attempted to do so. In the past, Pakistan has justified its pursuit of cruise missiles by citing their supposed invulnerability to Indian ballistic missile defenses. China possesses SLBMs, and China and Pakistan are able to deliver nuclear weapons by airplane.

The Chinese and Pakistani reaction to Indian missile defense developments is not yet clear, said Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation. “The new capabilities and counter-capabilities add to the already vexed issue of arms race[s] in Asia,” Rajagopalan, a former assistant director of India’s National Security Council Secretariat, said in a Dec. 19 e-mail to Arms Control Today.

In a Dec. 19 analysis for the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, where he is a senior fellow, Vivek Kapur, a group captain in the Indian air force, said that “ballistic missile proliferation in India’s neighbourhood requires the development of a more capable” missile defense system.

In the Nov. 23 press release, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Indian government entity responsible for developing offensive and defensive missile and other systems, said the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor destroyed a target missile, a modified Prithvi ballistic missile, at an altitude of 15 kilometers.

The interceptor and target missile were launched from sites in Orissa, a state in the eastern part of the country. In the press release, the DRDO said it had demonstrated an ability to track and destroy multiple incoming ballistic missiles.

Rajagopalan said India’s efforts are “primarily driven by the threat of short-range missiles in Pakistan”; Chinese missile threats “did not figure prominently in the Indian calculation for a missile defence shield,” she said.

The Pakistani government has not issued an official reaction to the AAD interceptor test. Pakistan, however, successfully tested a nuclear-capable Hatf-5, a 1,300-kilometer-range ballistic missile, on Nov. 28. A Pakistani statement following the test of the Hatf-5, also known as the Ghauri, did not mention India specifically, but said the test “strengthens and consolidates Pakistan’s deterrence capability.” According to the DRDO, the Nov. 23 AAD test demonstrated a capability to intercept ballistic missiles with a range of 1,500 kilometers.

Two-Tiered Defense

India is pursuing a two-tiered missile defense shield, which would give it multiple opportunities to intercept incoming missiles. The AAD interceptor comprises the lower tier, and the higher-altitude, two-stage Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) interceptor currently comprises the upper tier. Like the U.S. Patriot system, both of these Indian systems intercept ballistic missiles in the so-called terminal phase, in which the incoming missiles are descending toward their target.

India first tested the AAD interceptor in December 2007 and, according to the Indian government, has conducted several subsequent tests. India first tested the higher-altitude Prithvi interceptor in November 2006 and again in March 2009. The test reportedly planned for January is of the Prithvi Defence Vehicle, which would be capable of interceptions at a much higher altitude than the PAD interceptor, and may eventually replace that interceptor as the upper tier of the Indian system.

The Indian government has not announced the area that the missile defense system is designed to protect. Media reports have indicated that New Delhi and Mumbai will be the first sites, with the system expanded to protect additional cities later in the decade.

According to the DRDO press release, the AAD interceptor used an explosive warhead to destroy the target missile as the interceptor approached it. In contrast, most U.S. missile defense systems, including the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense and sea-based Aegis systems, rely on “hit-to-kill” interceptors that destroy a target solely through impact.

Eyeing Iron Dome

In addition to developing an anti-ballistic missile capability, India has expressed an interest in purchasing and perhaps producing a domestic variant of the Israeli Iron Dome anti-rocket system, according to the U.S.-based Defense News. The Israel Defense Forces claim Iron Dome successfully intercepted 84 percent of rockets fired at Israeli population centers last November during Operation Pillar of Defense, which was intended to halt rocket attacks from groups in Gaza.

In the past, India has expressed interest in purchasing the Israeli Arrow-2 ballistic missile defense system. New Delhi bought two Israeli Green Pine missile defense radars, used for tracking incoming ballistic missiles, in 2002 and 2005. The Swordfish Long Range Tracking Radar, which was used in the AAD test, is based in part on the Green Pine radar.

India and the United States pursued missile defense cooperation during the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, but such efforts have been less prominent under the Obama administration. Last July, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said India and the United States intend to discuss missile defense cooperation, calling it “an important future area for our cooperation.” India and the United States should discuss the issue “strategically before they discuss it technically,” he said.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Will China Conduct Another ASAT Test? ... a short essay on the recent speculation about a Chinese anti-satellite test

Here's an article of mine on the recent speculation about a Chinese ASAT test ....

Six years ago, China conducted its first anti-satellite (ASAT) test -- on January 11, 2007. Exactly three years later, China conducted a second ASAT test, which Beijing referred to as a missile defence test, on January 11, 2010. Three years from then, whether China plans to do another ASAT test is the rumour that is doing the rounds in global circles.

For the full article, click here.

One of the first reports in October said that China will conduct a test targeting satellites at higher orbits, potentially hitting at reconnaissance and navigation satellites. Some of the US intelligence sources had suggested in that report that Beijing was delaying the test until the US elections were over because they did not want to spoil Oabam's chances for a second term. The Chinese may not have been excited about a Republican Administration that could have been far more conservative on space security and arms control issues than Obama. Meanwhile, the Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun played down the speculation and made a short comment at one of the regular news briefings to say that "such reports did not conform to the fact."

However, the Chinese Global Times editorial of January 06 was much more upbeat and jingoistic about the rumours, saying, "hopefully, the speculation about China's anti-satellite tests is true." The same editorial also highlighted that China's "public policy is peaceful use of space," which raises questions about the real intentions of its space programme. The editorial went on to suggest that Beijing is against any kind of arms race in space, evident in the Russia-China proposal submitted in 2008. As per the editorial, the Chinese seemed to have planned it all well as to how they should respond to the international hue and cry when they do the test. Even as they claimed to be unclear about the Chinese plans to do the test, the editorial notes, "China should continue substantive research on striking satellites. It can avoid the controversy of whether this action violates peaceful use of space by doing so under the aegis of developing anti-missile defense systems."

Citing government and intelligence sources, some of the international media reports suggest that China may be using a Dong-Ning-2 (DN-2) direct ascent anti-satellite missile. DN-2, the latest anti-satellite missile developed by the PLA, scheduled for testing originally in October/ November 2012 is considered to be a high-earth orbit interceptor capable of destroying satellites by colliding at high-speed, in other words with kinetic impact. A report in Taipei Times raised concerns about the missile test as it can target US spy satellites providing early warning message to Taiwan of any imminent attack, as well as other satellites that would be used in conducting military operations in the theatre. Most reconnaissance and navigation satellites fly at high-earth orbit or geosynchronous orbit, at a distance of around 35,000 km from Earth. If the missile test is done successfully, it will be a major advancement as far as Chinese satellite strike capabilities are concerned, with some calling it a major "counterspace" weapon.

Meanwhile, there were a few reports in the international media which said that China may not actually do a test because it will produce a large amount of debris which will hurt China too, given their greater reliance on space assets today. Particularly with their navigation system Beidou operationalised, Beijing may not continue with more such destructive tests, creating additional debris and increasing the chances of collisions. However, if the editorial were anything to go by, it indicates a totally different orientation to China's space programme.

Fresh anticipation of the Chinese ASAT came about after a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists last month, which talked about an announcement within the Chinese government circles about a planned ASAT test. However, questions as to when, how and whether China will actually conduct a test or not is a matter of speculation with no Chinese open source talking about the test.

As mentioned in the Global Times editorial as well as other official statements, China's emphasis has been on space arms race. No doubt, arms race in space will be an issue in the future. However, there are more pressing challenges that face the space domain today which do not get the same attention in Chinese plans. Worse, some of China's space activities are contributing to worsening of the space environment. Space debris, which is a bigger issue today is often underplayed by China. If Beijing were to conduct another ASAT test there will be a significant increase in the space debris that has already reached dangerous levels. Space debris is an issue that China refuses to take up in any international code of conduct, neither is it a subject addressed in the draft proposal that China and Russia have submitted. PAROS has also remained on the Chinese agenda, again with the focus on arms race and with no mention of the debris issue.

Along with arms race, the China-Russia emphasis has been on placement of weapons in outer space. But the bigger challenge today is ground-based weapons that can target assets in outer space, which has heightened the fears about weaponisation of outer space. The Chinese testing of DN-2 could up the ante in Asia, which is already witnessing a heightened phase of military modernization and could possibly spark an arms race in space. Given the history of the region, such developments are ominous.

All of these point out to the need to draw certain red lines in the outer space domain that would bring about restraint in such activities and capabilities. Future normative exercise in an effort to establish a space code of conduct or a more binding mechanism should pay attention to defining activities and capabilities that will be construed as irresponsible behavior. Such codification would go a long way in establishing deterrence in outer space. The need for dialogue at bilateral, regional and global levels as channels of communication and as CBM initiatives is real and should be pursued keeping in view the myriad of challenges facing the outer space domain.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Drawing the Boundaries: Ideal Ingredients of a Space Code

Here's a short essay on an international code of conduct on space and what are the few issues it must contain and clarify.

The idea of establishing a space code of conduct has been gaining ground in the last few years. The recent steps by the European Union (EU) towards institutionalising a set of rules on outer space affairs is a welcome step although it has been met with some criticism, mostly on the process but in part on

the content of the code as well. However, given the enormity of challenges, there is a need for all the spacefaring powers to unite in this exercise, especially as the EU evolves a more inclusive process in galvanising support for the code. In turn, the EU must be sufficiently open-minded to have an inclusive agenda in order to ensure greater support from other regions. There is clearly a need to ensure critical mass if a space code is to become effective.

Given the number of multiple actors and new technologies, there are likely to be several issues driving the agenda. However, there has to be greater clarity on the key points of disagreement that must be addressed in a code.

For the full essay, click here.

It is important for India and others to debate and decide on two aspects: what it thinks the norms should be and what sort of future it wants to achieve in space. Obviously, long-term sustainability of outer space and ensuring space security remain major driving factors. A large number of countries and not just the major space powers are dependent on outer space one way or the other. Therefore, it is important that we define, categorise and regulate what activities are permissible and what needs to be restricted. Also defining certain limits on activities by states or non-state parties has become essential for ensuring the security of outer space.

While many states are dependent on space assets for societal and developmental utilities, there has also been the growing trend of militarization with states using space assets for a variety of military missions including surveillance and reconnaissance, signals intelligence and early warning. However, the more recent trend towards weaponisation of outer space with some states making investments in their military space programmes is worrying. The advance nature of military space programmes in Asia, for example, poses major challenges. New capabilities being developed such as anti-satellite missiles (ASAT) are potentially destabilizing. With ASAT capabilities, the concern is not just about additional debris creation but more importantly that the threat perception about space weaponisation could become real. This could lead to a regional arms race, including in the space domain.

Meanwhile, space debris has become a larger challenge requiring immediate attention. Much of the space debris was created between the 1960s and mid-1990s. After this, for a decade the debris growth line had flattened out. However, the Chinese shooting down of an old weather satellite in January 2007 created more than 2,500 pieces of debris. In addition, the 2009 collision between the Russian Cosmos and US Iridium satellites resulted in a debris of more than 2,000 pieces. These two incidents have changed the situation for the worse. The rapid growth of space junk has meant devastating impact on civilian space assets calling for immediate attention.

While these are some of the broad issues that should become part of any code that might come into existence, there is a need to address several definitional issues. The lack of definitional clarity of many space security-related terms has provided ample scope for mischief. Terms and concepts such as ’peaceful activity’, ’space weapon’, ’defensive actions in space’, and ’space weaponisation’, among others, need to be clarified.

Additionally it is also of importance to codify activities that may need to be restrained. While it is not logistically possible to list all activities that are acceptable, it will be of great value if the code is in a position to outline the kind of actions that may fall outside of the category of "responsible behaviour." This should be within the realm of possibility.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, for instance, laid out some of the basic tenets although the treaty has become quite open-ended in its understanding and explanation of the uses of outer space. An excellent analysis by Gopal Raj on the loopholes of the outer space treaty, raises questions about the definition of air space and outer space. This is particularly relevant as the treaty prohibits the placement of weapons in orbit around the Earth, in outer space, or on celestial bodies. Unless there is clarity on where ’outer space’, which is part of the global commons, begin going beyond the national boundaries and sovereignty, one is bound to see competing definitions leading to potentially dangerous situations.

Similarly, how do we define space weapons? Any weapon used in space warfare can be technically called a space weapon. It could include anything from anti-satellite missiles to the old Soviet Almaz military space station which carried a fixed 23 mm cannon for preventing hostile interception and a lot more. The fact that none of the current treaties address this definitional gap needs to be corrected.

The current treaties and agreements also do not take a categorical stand on what construes peaceful activity. Today, peaceful has come to be narrowly defined as "non-aggressive" in intent, which is quite broad considering the array of activities possible in outer space.

Lastly, the current treaties only address the issue of placement of weapons in outer space, which is seen as the biggest threat, leaving outside its ambit the entire range of ground-based weapons that are bigger challenges.