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12 Feb, 2008 08:24

Russia appeals for weapons-free space

Russia's Foreign Minister has told delegates at UN disarmament talks that using weapons in space could undermine the world's military balance. Sergey Lavrov presented a draft treaty by Russia and China at the meeting in Geneva, which prevents states from

“The modern international space law does not prohibit deployment of weapons in space if they are not classified as weapons of mass destruction. However, such weapons if deployed in space would have a global reach, high deployment readiness, a capability for hidden engagement of space and earth objects, and the ability to render them inoperative. In contrast to weapons of mass destruction, such weapons would be fit for real use,” said Sergey Lavrov.

Meanwhile, the initiative faces strong opposition from the U.S., which wants to improve its defence.

“We believe that strategic stability can no longer remain an exclusive domain of Russia-U.S. relations, although, of course the Russian Federation and the U.S. will continue to play a leading role here. But bipolarity needs to be overcome by opening up this sphere to all interested states, which are prepared to actively co-operate for the future strengthening of common security,”  the Minister noted.

The idea of using space as an arms foothold is not new.

Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan came up with the Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983.  Under the concept nicknamed 'Star Wars', the U.S. was set to build a space-based anti-missile shield that would make Soviet nuclear arms outdated.

A quarter of a century on, the danger is universally understood and a weapons-free space is seen as a guarantee of modern world security.

In 2006, the U.S. adopted a new Space Policy, which sets no limits on weapons being used in space.

“We reserve the right to defend ourselves against hostile attacks and interference with our space assets. We will therefore oppose others who wish to use their military capabilities, to impede or deny our access to or use of space,” Robert Joseph, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Arms Control and International Security, said.