Commercial Observation Satellites and International Security by Michael Krepon

By Michael Krepon

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The Third Tier The third tier will consist of states that have chosen not to operate their own satellites or to join consortia, but to rely totally on other countries' assets in space. Foreign dependency for these states can be mitigated somewhat by establishing a ground station to receive, distribute, and sell images as quickly as possible, but questions will always remain in the receiving country whether or not data will be available when and if they are urgently needed. It is instructive, for example, that several of the states operating Landsat and SPOT remote-sensing ground stations, such as Brazil, China, India and Japan, have still found it in their interest to 20 The New Hierarchy in Space launch their own satellites, or intend to do so in the future.

S. claims, detailed intelligence information was provided by Washington to Bonn, still without apparent effect. Only when the media described in detail West German involvement and showed the Rabta photo did Bonn take dramatic steps, including the unprecedented release of detailed information on how its intelligence agency worked with other governments to investigate the problem. H None of the impacts discussed above pose a serious national security threat to either superpower, or place greater financial burdens upon them.

IX The availability of satellite imagery might also have an impact in those cases where national leaders are genuinely undecided about using military might, and are sensitive to the adverse publicity arising from pictures from space in the media. In contrast, satellite imagery is unlikely to defuse tense situations when a nation has a strong reason to pursue offensive military operations. Indeed, under these circumstances, data derived from satellites are likely to be exploited in whatever way possible to assist in offensive preparations.

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