April 15, 2024

The US and Japan are sponsoring a UN Security Council resolution calling on all nations not to deploy or develop nuclear weapons in space, the US ambassador announced.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a meeting of the UN Security Council that “any placement of nuclear weapons in orbit around the Earth would be unprecedented, dangerous and unacceptable.”

The announcement follows confirmation from the White House last month that Russia has acquired a “disturbing” anti-satellite weapon capability, although such a weapon is not yet operational.

Russian President Vladimir Putin later stated that Moscow had no intention of deploying nuclear weapons in space, claiming that the country had only developed space capabilities similar to those of the US.

The Outer Space Treaty, which has been ratified by about 114 countries, including the US and Russia, prohibits the deployment of “nuclear weapons or any other type of weapons of mass destruction” into orbit or the stationing of “weapons in outer space by any other means .”

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, who chaired the council meeting, said that even during “the confrontational environment” of the Cold War, global rivals agreed to ensure that outer space remained peaceful. That ban on putting any weapons of mass destruction into orbit must be upheld today, she said.

Thomas-Greenfield said that all parties to the treaty must commit to the prohibition of nuclear weapons and other destructive weapons, “and we must urge all member states that are not yet party to it to do so without delay.”

Thomas-Greenfield also reiterated to the council that the US is willing to engage with Russia and China, without preconditions, on bilateral arms control issues.

In February, the White House said a new Russian anti-satellite weapon was being monitored but was not an immediate threat to anyone’s safety. A spokesman did not confirm or deny reports that the new weapon was nuclear, but did say it was “space-based” and that it violated the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits the deployment in space of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. .

Monday’s proposed US-Japan resolution was condemned as “yet another propaganda ploy by Washington,” “highly politicized” and “divorced from reality” by Russia’s deputy US ambassador Dmitry Polyansky.

He criticized the text, saying the wording was not worked out by experts or discussed at specialized international platforms such as the UN Conference on Disarmament or the UN Committee on Outer Space.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres briefed the council, saying “geopolitical tensions and mistrust have increased the risk of nuclear warfare to its highest point in decades.”

He said the movie Oppenheimer about Robert Oppenheimer, who directed the American project during World War II that developed the atomic bomb, “brought the harsh reality of nuclear doomsday to vivid life for millions around the world.”

“Humanity cannot survive a successor to Oppenheimer,” the UN chief said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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