Russia has pledged severe repercussions if President Donald Trump’s order to set up a new, space-oriented military branch violates a treaty banning nuclear weapons in the cosmos.
Trump said this week he will establish a sixth branch of the military named the “Space Force,” pending budgetary approval from the U.S. Congress. The idea could require the U.S. to withdraw from the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which prohibits the deployment of weapons of mass destruction but not conventional arms in space.
Viktor Bondarev, head of the Committee on Defense and Security of Russia's upper parliamentary house, told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency he hoped “there’s still remnants of common sense in the American political elite” that would compel the U.S. to remain in the pact.
“But if the U.S. withdraws from the treaty, then of course, not only ours but other states will follow with a tough response aimed at ensuring global security,” Bondarev told RIA on Tuesday.
In the U.S., analysts noted that the proposed space force would likely face complications, delays or outright rejection after the 2020 presidential election.
“The militarization of space is a path toward catastrophe,” Bondarev, the former head of Russia’s Aerospace Forces, stressed.
Reuters contributed reporting to this article.