India Signs Artemis Accords: A Significant Shift in International Space Policy

India has recently inked its name to the Artemis Accords, an international treaty intended to guide the exploration and use of resources on the Moon, Mars, and other celestial bodies that may bear valuable minerals. This move is considered a pivotal milestone for the Accords and the Artemis program, as well as a significant advance in United States space policy.

The agreement was made public during a press conference hosted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden. The signing was one of many concluded during Prime Minister Modi’s inaugural state visit to Washington, which started earlier this week.

“India’s decision to join the Artemis Accords is a giant leap in our space collaboration. To put it simply, even the sky is no boundary for the partnership between India and the U.S.,” asserted Modi.

During his visit, Prime Minister Modi held discussions with President Biden and is scheduled for a luncheon with Vice President Kamala Harris, head of the National Space Council, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is leading the Biden administration’s campaign to establish global norms for military space activities.

Experts believe that India’s commitment to the Artemis Accords boosts U.S. efforts to rally allies in curbing China’s expanding civil and military space operations, along with its strategic use of space as a soft power instrument on the global platform. India has traditionally perceived China as a primary geopolitical opponent, co-participating with the U.S., Australia, and Japan in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, often referred to as the Quad, since 2007.

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, director of the Center for Security, Strategy & Technology at the Observer Researcher Foundation in New Delhi, conveyed that India’s adherence to the Artemis Accords concretely demonstrates the nation’s commitment to shaping global space policy, as previously stated in the Quad dialogue.

Furthermore, the signing indicates India’s strategic alignment with the U.S. approach to lunar exploration, as opposed to China’s. This move signifies a strategic use of space as a platform for international influence, aligning with the U.S.’ soft power strategy.

India has also been ambitiously expanding its space capabilities, developing its military, and charting an ambitious civilian exploration program. It joined the exclusive league of nations capable of anti-satellite missile testing, including the U.S., Russia, and China, following its 2019 Mission Shakrit.

India’s commitment to the principles of the Accords reflects its pursuit of lunar and Martian exploration. This commitment is a crucial stride towards realizing the Artemis program’s vision of a peaceful, transparent, and cooperative future in space for the global community.

Historically, India has maintained a stance of independence in space policy, keeping a distance from both the U.S. and Russia. It has also been notably cautious about committing to voluntary accords regarding international space policy. However, this recent agreement marks a significant departure from India’s traditional approach.

Finally, with India becoming the 27th country to sign the Accords, U.S. officials are optimistic about the role of these accords in minimizing the potential for future conflict in space as countries compete for orbital territories and resources. The recent addition of Ecuador as a signatory of the Accords also illustrates the growing international engagement with this framework.

In summary, India’s signing of the Artemis Accords not only amplifies its voice in international space policy but also marks a significant turn in the nation’s diplomatic approach to space exploration and resource utilization.

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