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UN Security Council Faces Divisions Ahead of Vote on Russia's Outer Space Arms Race Resolution

April 24, 2024 The Security Council votes on a resolution during the meeting on non-proliferation.| UN Photo/Loey Felipe
April 24, 2024 The Security Council votes on a resolution during the meeting on non-proliferation.| UN Photo/Loey Felipe

By: ATN News

United Nations: On Monday afternoon (May 20th), the Security Council is set to vote on a draft resolution aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space, a measure prepared by Russia. This resolution is open for co-sponsorship by the broader UN membership. This comes in the wake of a recent vote on April 24, where a draft resolution by Japan and the US focused on preventing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in outer space. That draft, co-sponsored by 65 member states, emphasized commitments under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, urging states not to place nuclear or other WMDs in orbit or on celestial bodies, and called for the exploration of space for peaceful purposes.

The April resolution also sought to introduce further measures, including legally binding instruments for verification, to prevent an arms race in outer space. However, it was vetoed by Russia,

despite support from other members except China, which abstained. An amendment proposed by China and Russia, which called for urgent measures to prevent any kind of weapon placement in space and the use of force from or against space objects, failed to pass due to insufficient votes.

In response to the veto, several Council members expressed regret, accusing Russia of undermining global security and the non-proliferation regime. The US criticized Russia for invoking nuclear rhetoric and neglecting arms control obligations. Russia defended its veto, arguing that the resolution should aim to ban all weapons in space, not just WMDs, and accused Western nations of militarizing outer space. China, explaining its abstention, stated that the resolution needed to address broader aspects of outer space security beyond WMDs.

Negotiations have continued with Russia proposing a new draft resolution on April 30, which underwent revisions and negotiations. The latest draft incorporates much of the previously vetoed Japan-US resolution, along with the China-Russia amendment, and calls for prompt negotiations on legally binding agreements to prevent weaponization of space. However, this draft has faced criticism for including elements without broad consensus among Council members.

As the vote approaches, it appears unlikely that Russia's draft resolution will secure the necessary support for adoption, with Council members expected to maintain their previous positions. The international community remains divided on how best to ensure the peaceful use of outer space and prevent an arms race, highlighting the complexities and geopolitical tensions surrounding this critical issue.


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