India-Bhutan MoU in use of outer space

The Union Cabinet recently approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bhutan for peaceful use of outer space. The MoU was signed between the countries on November 19, 2020.

What is India-Bhutan MoU in use of Outer Space?

  • The agreement allows the countries to pursue cooperation in areas such as space science, navigation, planetary exploration, use of space system, spacecrafts and ground systems.
  • The MoU will help in creating Joint Working Group. The group is to be created from ISRO members and Ministry of Information and Communications, Bhutan.
  • The agreement will provide opportunities to explore cooperation in the field of satellite communication, space science, satellite navigation and exploration of outer space.

Is India-Bhutan MoU in compliance to Outer Space Treaty?

Yes. Both India and Bhutan are signatories of Outer Space Treaty. Therefore, they abide by the treaty to every space agreement being signed.

What is Outer Space Treaty?

  • The use of outer space between the countries and by the countries is decided based on Outer Space Treaty. As of June 2020, 110 countries are parties to Outer Space Treaty.

What are the Key Features of Outer Space Treaty?

  • The Outer Space Treaty prohibits placing nuclear weapons in space. Also, it limits the use of the moon and other celestial bodies only to peaceful purposes. It establishes that the outer space is free for exploration but no nation may claim sovereignty of outer space.
  • The Outer Space treaty does not ban military activities in space. Also, it allows weaponization of space with certain exceptions such as establishment of military bases, conducting military maneuvers on celestial bodies.

What is the role of United Nations in Outer Space Treaty?

The Outer Space Treaty was passed by United Nations in 1963 and signed by UK, USSR and USA in 1967. Several other treaties such as Moon Treaty were signed in using outer space. However, none of these treaties were widely accepted as that of Outer Space Treaty.

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