UN Security Council rejects Russia-backed resolution on weapons ban in space

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States said Monday that Russia launched a satellite last week that could contribute to the militarization of space, a possible future global trend that members of the United Nations Security Council have condemned even if they failed to adopt a measure against this satellite. .

The Russia-drafted Security Council resolution rivaled one backed by the United States and Japan that failed last month. Rival projects focused on different types of weapons, with the United States and Japan specifying weapons of mass destruction. The Russian project dealt with all types of weapons.

The United States and its allies said the language debated Monday by the 15-member council was simply intended to distract the world’s attention from Russia’s true intention: to militarize space.

“The culmination of Russia’s campaign of cover-up and diplomatic manipulation is the text before us today,” Deputy U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood told the Council.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, denied his country was trying to mislead the world. Backed by China and others, he called the vote “a unique moment of truth for our Western colleagues.”

“If they fail to support this, they will make clear that their main priority remains to retain their freedom of movement to accelerate the militarization of space,” Nebenzia said.

Every nation says it wants to prohibit access to weapons in space, and Council members reiterated this Monday. But at the time of the vote, the Council was divided 7 votes to 7 between supporters of the United States and Russia, with Switzerland abstaining. The measure failed under U.N. rules because it failed to garner nine votes.

“We have this negative, quarrelsome attitude among the major space powers who seem more interested in scoring points against their adversaries rather than engaging in constructive dialogue,” said Paul Meyer, Canada’s former ambassador for disarmament and member of the Outer Space Institute in Vancouver. .

Long before humans left Earth, the world’s most powerful nations worried that their enemies were using space to attack them.

The Soviet Union and the United States sent men into space in 1961. Six years later, the Soviets, the United States and the United Kingdom signed a treaty declaring outer space a a global common good that can be used only for peaceful purposes.

Although nations could not wage war without the space communications, reconnaissance, and meteorological tools provided by satellites and spacecraft, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 requires them to keep their weapons on Earth.

“You realize what an important conflict prevention measure this was,” Meyer said.

This has become even more important, he said, as more countries have launched into space. About a dozen have the capability to launch spacecraft and about 80 have their own satellites, not to mention private companies with assets in orbit.

All of this could be at risk if a conflict in space causes an explosion and shrapnel, which could disable the life-sustaining systems that millions of people around the world depend on.

“A lot of people have an interest in being able to operate in space safely,” Meyer said.

The United States gathered highly sensitive intelligence on Russian anti-satellite weapons that was shared with higher levels of government, four people briefed on the intelligence said in February. The sources, who were not authorized to comment publicly, said the capability was not yet operational.