US slams Russia for vetoing UNSC resolution on Outer Space Treaty

The Outer Space Treaty prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), including nuclear weapons, in orbit around the Earth

Representative image of UNSC (photo: National Herald archives)
Representative image of UNSC (photo: National Herald archives)


The United States slammed Russia on Wednesday, 24 April for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution on the Outer Space Treaty that put a legally-binding obligation that countries should not be putting weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including nuclear weapons, in orbit.

"As we have noted previously, the United States assesses that Russia is developing a new satellite carrying a nuclear device. We have heard President (Vladimir) Putin say publicly that Russia has no intention of deploying nuclear weapons in space. If that were the case, Russia would not have vetoed this resolution," US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement, after Russia vetoed the resolution at the UN headquarters in New York.

"Today, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution, proposed jointly by the United States and Japan, that would have reaffirmed the fundamental obligation of State Parties to the Outer Space Treaty not to place nuclear weapons in orbit around the Earth," Sullivan said. The resolution also would have called on all member-states not to develop nuclear weapons specifically designed to be placed in orbit, he added.

"Placement by a State Party of a nuclear weapon in orbit would not only violate the Outer Space Treaty, but would threaten the vital communications, scientific, meteorological, agricultural, commercial and national security services that any and all satellites provide to societies around the globe," Sullivan said.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told members of the UN Security Council that by vetoing the resolution, Russia has abandoned its responsibility.

"Of course, this is not the first time Russia has undermined the global non-proliferation regime. Over the past few years, Russia has irresponsibly invoked dangerous nuclear rhetoric and walked away from several of its arms control obligations. It has remained unwilling to engage in substantive discussions around arms control or risk reduction. And it has defended and even enabled dangerous proliferators," she said.

Had it been adopted, the resolution would have also emphasised the necessity of further measures, including political commitments and legally-binding instruments, with appropriate and effective provisions for verification, to prevent an arms race in outer space in all its aspects.

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Published: 25 Apr 2024, 8:55 AM