Direct-Ascent Anti-Satellite Missile Tests: State Positions on the Moratorium, UNGA Resolution, and Lessons for the Future

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The topic of destructive DA-ASAT testing has recently become highly salient. In April 2022, the United States announced a unilateral moratorium, pledging to stop testing destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missiles. The following month in May 2022, discussions on this and other related issues began within the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats through Norms, Rules, and Principles of Responsible Behaviours. To date, a series of other national pledges have followed, beginning with Canada in May 2022 and, most recently, Costa Rica and Norway in October 2023, bringing the total number of states up to 37.

On 7 December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted resolution A/RES/77/41 in support of the destructive DA-ASAT testing moratorium. 155 States voted in favor, with nine against and nine abstentions. Notably, the United States, India, China, and Russia are the only states to have demonstrated destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile capability – and at the time of writing, neither India, China, nor Russia support the moratorium and resolution.

This report provides insight into key questions such as: what prompted the moratorium and resolution, the reasons behind their widespread support, and why is it that more states have not pledged the moratorium despite 155 votes in favor of the resolution.

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Last updated on October 31, 2023