NATO Could Invoke Article 5 In Response To Space Attacks

NATO leaders have agreed to respond to threats from space and to increase the alliance's awareness of the domain.

The alliance has added that any such attacks could lead to Article 5 being invoked.

Article 5 of the alliance's founding treaty, which states that "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all", could also be expanded to cover attacks from space.

If triggered, Article 5 allows such actions as NATO deems necessary, and has only been activated once, in response to the 9/11 terror attacks on New York and Washington, on 11 September 2001.

Outlining NATO's new stance, the heads of state and government in the meeting said they "consider that attacks to, from, or within space present a clear challenge to the security of the alliance".

"We recognise the growing importance of space for the security and prosperity of our nations and for NATO's deterrence and defence," the statement continued.

"Secure access to space services, products, and capabilities is essential for the conduct of the alliance's operations, missions and activities. 

"We will strengthen NATO's space domain awareness and better integrate space in our activities, including training and exercises, resilience, and innovation efforts."

The joint statement pledged to "support the international efforts to promote responsible behaviour in space".

Watch: What happens if NATO triggers Article 5?

It went on: "We consider that attacks to, from, or within space present a clear challenge to the security of the alliance, the impact of which could threaten national and Euro-Atlantic prosperity, security, and stability, and could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack.

"Such attacks could lead to the invocation of Article 5.

"A decision as to when such attacks would lead to the invocation of Article 5 would be taken by the North Atlantic Council on a case-by-case basis," the statement added.

Space has been of increasing importance to the UK military, with the head of the Royal Air Force describing the domain as "fundamental" to the country's national security and interests.

Earlier this year, Russia and China signed a memorandum of understanding to create a station on the moon, months after the chief of the US Space Force declared space a "warfighting domain".

A space security expert told Forces News that the joint Russian-Chinese moon base may not solely be a step toward aggression.

Cover image: NASA.

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