Russia likely to veto a UN resolution calling for prevention of nuclear arms race in space

UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council will vote on Wednesday on a resolution sponsored by the United States and Japan calling on all countries to prevent a dangerous nuclear arms race in space. There is a good chance that Russia will veto it.

The resolution calls on all countries not to develop or deploy weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons, in space.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a March 18 council meeting where she announced the resolution that “any deployment of nuclear weapons into orbit would be unprecedented, dangerous and unacceptable.”

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, responded that Moscow’s first impression was that the resolution is “yet another propaganda stunt by Washington,” that it is “highly politicized” and “detached from reality.”

The announcement of the resolution followed the White House’s confirmation in February that Russia has a “concerning” anti-satellite weapons capability, although no such weapon is yet operational.

Russian President Vladimir Putin later stated that Moscow has no intention of deploying nuclear weapons in space, claiming that the country has only developed space capabilities comparable to those of the United States.

The draft resolution says that “preventing an arms race in space would avert a serious threat to international peace and security.”

It urges all countries carrying out activities in the exploration and use of space to comply with international law and the UN Charter.

The draft “affirms” that countries that have ratified the 1967 Outer Space Treaty must meet their obligations “not to place into orbit objects” containing weapons of mass destruction, or to install them “on celestial bodies, or to place such weapons in orbit to place the earth.” room.”

The treaty, ratified by some 114 countries, including the United States and Russia, bans the deployment of “nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction” into orbit, or the stationing of “weapons in outer space” in any other way. .

The draft resolution emphasizes “the need for further measures, including political commitments and legally binding instruments, with appropriate and effective provisions for verification, to prevent an arms race in space in all its aspects.”

It reiterates that the UN Conference on Disarmament, based in Geneva, has the primary responsibility to negotiate agreements to prevent an arms race in space.

The 65-nation body has produced few results and has largely become a place where countries can criticize the weapons programs of others or defend their own. The draft resolution urges the conference to “adopt and implement a balanced and comprehensive work program.”

At the March council meeting that launched the U.S.-Japan initiative, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres warned that “geopolitical tensions and distrust have escalated the risk of nuclear war to the highest point in decades.”

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

“Humanity cannot survive an Oppenheimer sequel,” the UN chief said.