Russia defends veto of UN resolution to ban nuclear weapons in outer space and urges vote to ban all weapons


Russia on Monday defended its veto of a U.N. resolution calling on all nations to prevent a nuclear arms race in outer space, challenging the United States, Japan and their Western allies to support Moscow’s rival resolution calling for a ban. of all weapons in space “forever.” “.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said the United States and Japan, which sponsored the vetoed resolution, are guilty of “hypocrisy and double standards.” He accused the United States and Western nations generally of planning military exploration of outer space, including the deployment of weapons, particularly “strike combat systems.”

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood responded to the UN General Assembly: “The truth is that Russia currently has several conventional anti-satellite weapons in orbit, one of which it tested in 2019.” He added that Russia has threatened to attack satellites with weapons and said “there is credible information that Russia is developing a new satellite that carries a nuclear device.”

The verbal clash came on a day when Russia threatened to attack British military installations and said it plans to hold exercises simulating the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield. Moscow’s actions were a response to comments from senior Western officials about possible deeper involvement in the war in Ukraine.

In February 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to rising tensions with the West over its support for Ukraine by announcing that Moscow was suspending its participation in the New START treaty, the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States.

The United Nations on Monday warned of growing concern over recent escalating nuclear weapons talks by various parties when asked about Russia’s planned exercises simulating the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

“Current nuclear risks are at an alarmingly high level,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric. “All actions that could lead to miscalculations and escalation with catastrophic consequences must be avoided.”

Under a General Assembly resolution adopted in April 2022, any of the Security Council’s permanent members (the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France) who veto a resolution must appear before the 193-member world body to explain because.

Before the US-Japan resolution came to a vote on April 24, Russia and China unsuccessfully proposed an amendment that would have called on all countries to prevent all weapons (not just weapons of mass destruction) in the outer space.

In the subsequent vote on the U.S.-Japan resolution, 13 countries voted “yes,” China abstained, and Russia voted “no,” vetoing the measure.

A week later, Russia circulated its rival resolution calling on all countries to halt the deployment of all weapons in outer space, as well as “the threat or use of force in outer space,” also “forever.” “.

On Monday, Nebenzia argued that the United States and its allies oppose a ban on all weapons in outer space because they plan to deploy weapons there and threaten to use force in outer space – “from outer space and against objects in the outer space”. space.”

Wood questioned the sincerity of Putin’s public comments that Russia has no intention of deploying nuclear weapons in space.

“If that were the case, Russia would not have vetoed this resolution,” Wood said. “Russia’s actions cast significant doubt on whether it will comply with existing legal obligations under the Outer Space Treaty and raise concerns about what this could mean for international peace and security.”

The vetoed resolution between the United States and Japan would have affirmed that countries that ratified the 1967 Outer Space Treaty must fulfill their obligations not to place in orbit around the Earth “any object” with weapons of mass destruction, nor install them ” on celestial bodies, nor place such weapons in outer space.” The treaty was ratified by 114 countries, including the United States and Russia.

Wood said all countries should support the Outer Space Treaty and not allow Russia to be distracted from the pact’s provisions by trying to advance its own resolution, which he said has text being discussed in other bodies where there is not yet any. consensus.

“Russia’s actions only seek to divide states, not unite us,” he said.

Japanese Ambassador Yamazaki Kazuyuki asked UN member countries to imagine what would happen if a nuclear weapon were detonated in outer space.

“A large number of satellites and other critical space infrastructure would be shot down,” he said.

But the consequences would not be limited to outer space, Yamazaki said, stating that there would be repercussions on people’s lives and obstruct development “in all regions of the Earth, in a disastrous and irreversible way.”

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