Politics

NATO Defence Ministers Sign-Off On New Space Policy

The alliance has announced a programme to deter threats to satellites and communications.

NATO allies have signed-off on a new space policy to deter threats to satellites and communications.

There have been no real details released, but it comes just months after it was reported NATO’s GPS systems were jammed on exercise in Norway by Russian interference, and five weeks before the deadline has been given to Russia to destroy missiles that violate the INF Treaty.

NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said: "This is not about militarising space, NATO can play an important role as a forum to share information, increase interoperability, and ensure that our missions and operations can call on the support they need."

While earlier handshakes and smiles from defence ministers had created an air of ease, bolstering defence against an increasingly hostile Russia appears to have underpinned many meetings that have taken place over the last 48 hours.

It was also announced progress has been made in another area set to bolster strength, the 'Four Thirties' initiative. 

This has been in planning since June 2018. Allies are committing to having 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 naval combat vessels ready for action within 30 days.

It aims to enhance NATO’s ability to move forces across Europe and the Atlantic in crisis response operations, and plans are expected to be in place by 2020.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt had already set out Britain's offering: 

"The UK will be making a significant contribution to the NATO readiness initiative, over land, sea and air - at the heart of which will be our new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers and the F-35s, which I saw flying their first operational mission earlier this week."

NATO HQ Brussels Credit BFBS 270619
The meetings have been held at NATO's headquarters in Brussels.

Around three-quarters of the forces needed to fulfil the 'Four Thirties' requirement have now been found and NATO’s Secretary General seemed confident the rest can be sourced by next year.

With both the INF Treaty and the Iran nuclear deal hanging in the balance, it seems the need for a strong, united NATO alliance is building.

There still remain questions over who would really shoulder the financial burden, if any action were needed.

Discussions about that will continue in London in December.