Vice President Mike Pence chose not rule out the possibility of nuclear weapons in space, telling The Washington Post on Tuesday that “peace comes through strength.”
“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,” Pence said, when asked if nuclear weapons should be banned from outer space. “What we want to do is continue to advance the principle that peace comes through strength.”
Weapons of mass destruction, like nuclear weapons, are currently banned from orbit through the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, signed by both Russia and the United States during the Cold War. The treaty states that not only are nuclear weapons banned from outer space, but the moon and other celestial bodies are to be used for peaceful purposes only: this means no military bases, practices, or weapons testing.
President Donald Trump has already threatened to throw out one arms control treaty, however.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed with Russia in 1987, required the destruction of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with certain ranges. Amid concerns that Russia may be developing a medium-range ballistic missile, Trump said Saturday that the United States will end the INF Treaty.
Pence made his comments Tuesday at the “Transformers: Space” policy summit, hosted by the Post. He also said the Trump administration hopes to establish Space Force, a sixth branch of the U.S. military focused on outer space, as soon as 2020.