24 October 2018
Vice President Mike Pence admits nuclear weapons could be deployed in space as Trump threatens to pull out of Cold War arms treaty with Russia
by Chris Dyer for Mailonline
US Vice President Mike Pence refused to rule out deploying nuclear weapons in space.
President Donald Trump's right-hand man said last night America may need to to enforce 'peace through strength', even outside of the Earth's atmosphere.
He said the administration has no plans to amend a treaty which bans weapons of mass destruction being used in outer space, but when asked did not rule out nuclear arms being stored or used in space.
Pence said space was a 'war-fighting domain' and that the treaty does not actually ban military activity in space.
His comments come as President Donald Trump has already threatened to pull out one arms treaty with Russia - the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987.
As concerns that Russia may be developing a medium-range ballistic missile grow, Trump said on Saturday that the United States will end the INF Treaty.
The deal required the destruction of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with certain long-distance ranges.
Trump told reporters in Nevada he believed the treaty constrains the US from developing its own weapons and added he thought Russia has already violated the pact.
President Trump has repeatedly called for America to create a 'Space Force' as part of a US Space Command, a $3bn sixth branch of the military that would strengthen the US military foothold in space.
Pence argued a Space Force is critical for US national security as China and Russia expand their presence in space.
He also said Space Force would be needed to provide security for civilian missions to put 'American boots back on the Moon' and eventually 'seeing Americans land on Mars' and 'ensuring that America remains as dominant in space militarily as we are here on Earth'.
Pence said: 'In 2015, China essentially stood up its own space force. Russia, in the very same year, assigned a part of its aerospace division to a space force.
'What President Trump has initiated here, in a very real sense, while America continues to lead in technology and in innovation and in military strength, in terms of organizational structure, this is what our competitors are already doing.'
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which the United States and dozens of nations including Russia signed during the Cold War says, 'states shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner.'
At the 'Transformers: Space' policy summit, hosted by the Washington Post, the vice president, who also heads the National Space Council advisory board, was asked whether he thinks that nuclear weapons should always be banned from space.
He said the 1967 treaty 'does ban weapons of mass destruction in space, but it doesn't ban military activity. It actually is, it gives nations a fair amount of flexibility in operating for their security interests in space. And at this time, we don't see any need to amend the treaty'.
He added: 'Look, 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.
'As time goes forward, the hope that we could continue to see outer space as a domain where peace will reign, it will require military presence.
'I think that 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 enhance the principle that peace comes through strength.'
Pence added that he and the president would like to see the next round of defense spending to include 'language that authorizes the establishment of the United States Space Force, and a department as the sixth branch of the service'.
After the Transformers interview, Pence tweeted: 'We're going to protect American interests in space & ensure America remains as dominant in Outer Space militarily as we are here on Earth.'
Yesterday US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that Washington is convinced Russia violated the nuclear arms pact since as far back as 2013, citing it as the main reason for President Trump's decision to dump it.
After a meeting with Vladimir Putin, he
said the threat to Europe isn't the prospective US withdrawal from
the pact but 'the threat is the Russian missiles already