Vice President Pence said Tuesday that “it’s in the interest of every nation” to ban the use of nuclear weapons in space, but did not state definitively that the current ban should be made permanent.
“I think that what we need to do is make sure that we provide for the common defense of the people of the United States of America, and that’s the president’s determination here,” Pence said during a Washington Post event.
“I think it’s in the interest of every nation to continue to ban the use of nuclear weapons in space, but what we want to do is continue to advance the principle that peace comes through strength.”
Pence, who had been asked whether nuclear weapons should always be banned from space, was at the event to discuss the Trump administration’s plans for its proposed Space Force.
Nuclear weapons have been banned from space since 1967, when the United States and Russia signed the Outer Space Treaty, banning weapons of mass destruction from beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
The treaty also bans military bases and weapons testing on the moon or other planets.
The treaty has not previously been called into question, but President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors Iran thinks it has the upper hand in Vienna — here's why it doesn't MORE last week announced he would pull the United States out of another pact made with Russia, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
Pence in August first outlined plans to create a sixth branch of U.S. military known as the Space Force, which could be established as soon as 2020. He cited the need to preserve the America’s dominance in space.
The vice president heads the National Space Council, which has delivered six specific recommendations to Trump, Pence said later Tuesday.
The six recommendations include a guide to create U.S. Space Command; direct a legislative proposal for a Space Force; call for creating a funding plan for the new branch in the fiscal year 2020 budget; establish a joint Space Development Agency to buy technology; outline an interagency authorities review; and bolster the relationship between the military and the intelligence community.
The administration argues that a space branch is needed in the military to protect U.S. satellites from Russian and Chinese threats.