Explained | What is I2U2 grouping?

All four countries are signatories of the Artemis Accords. Photo: I2U2

The I2U2 group of India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have announced a new joint space venture which aims to create a unique space-based tool for policymakers, institutions, and entrepreneurs.

All four countries are signatories of the Artemis Accords.

Under the I2U2 group’s focus area of space, the four countries announced the new joint space venture on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Primarily using the space-based observation data and capabilities of the four I2U2 partner countries, this project aims to create a unique space-based tool for policymakers, institutions, and entrepreneurs, enabling their work on environmental and climate change challenges and furthering our cooperation in the applications of space data for the greater good of humanity.

The four-nation grouping also launched its website to enhance cooperation between the member countries and partnerships across the globe.

What is the purpose of I2U2?

• The I2U2 grouping was conceptualised during the meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries held on October 18, 2021. 

• In the grouping’s name, ‘I’ stands for India and Israel and ‘U’ for the US and UAE.

• The formation of the grouping is largely seen as a strategic attempt by the United States to check China’s increasing influence in Asia and the Middle East.

• I2U2 is aimed to encourage joint investments in six mutually identified areas such as water, energy, transportation, space, health and food security. 

• It intends to mobilise private sector capital and expertise to help modernise the infrastructure, low carbon development pathways for our industries, improve public health, and promote the development of critical emerging and green technologies.

• This will not only revitalise and re-energise the system of alliances and partnerships around the world but also stitch together partnerships that did not exist previously or were not utilised to their full extent.

• This will help the countries in exploring security cooperation among the four nations within the framework of these new groupings.

• Each country also has Sherpa-level interactions regularly to discuss the possible areas of cooperation.

• India’s bilateral strategic ties with each of the three countries are on an upswing in the last few years.

Artemis Accords

• Grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 (OST), the Artemis Accords are a non-binding set of principles designed to guide civil space exploration and use in the 21st century. 

• These principles, which include transparency, peaceful purposes, registering of space objects and release of scientific data, help make the space environment safer and more predictable, and allow all nations – even those without space programmes – to benefit from the data obtained in space.

• Co-led for the United States by the Department of State and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Artemis Accords were launched on October 13, 2020 with Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

• Currently, there are 29 signatories.

• From the original eight nations in 2020, Artemis Accords signatories now hail from every part of the globe and possess a variety of space capabilities and interests.

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