Commercial Observation Satellites and International Security by Michael Krepon

By Michael Krepon

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They have the ability to reveal conduct each nation would prefer to conceal, to expose environmental despoliation, military buildups, secret research, and treaty compliance or violation. The essential characteristic of the new space imagery, that which sets it apart from the images produced by secret intelligence-gathering satellites, is that it can be published widely without the permission of either the United States or the Soviet Union and without compromising the intelligence capabilities of either nation.

This may well have added to superpower hesitation about the publication of even the innocuous pictures that the early Landsat satellites could obtain. The gentlemen's agreement extended only to satellite imagery, and even then only to the public release of such pictures. Initially, the agreement extended to a refusal to admit the existence of photoreconnaissance satellites. After the SALT I treaty was signed and during the negotiation of the SALT II treaty, it became important, at least within the United States, to acknowledge something of the techniques used to verify arms control agreements.

Fiorini, "The Opening Skies," International Security, vol. 13, no. 2, Fall, 1988, p. 100. 2. , May 1987, p. 8. For further details see this report. 3. Fiorini, "The Opening Skies," n. 2, p. 93. 4. For a discussion of the military uses of satellite imagery see Jeffrey Richelson, "Implications for Nations Without Space-Based Intelligence Collection Capabilities," Ch. 6 of this volume. 5. , September 1987. 6. Space Commerce, an Industry Assessment, United States Department of Commerce, May 1988, pp.

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