Why Russia is against weapons in space

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Why Russia is against weapons in space
The prevention of the placement of weapons in orbit is a key objective of international space cooperation. Creating a unified vision on the issue of safety of space activities with the view to disarmament is a significant task for Russian diplomacy.

Space activities are internationally regulated by space law as well as a series of treaties on nuclear disarmament and nuclear test bans. However, regrettably, this international legal framework does not cover all types of weapons, thus leaving a loophole for a possible arms race in outer space. This is extremely dangerous. The treaty on the principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space of 1967 prohibits the deployment of weapons of mass destruction in space but does not ban the deployment of other types of weapons there.

That is why Russia calls for a comprehensive treaty aimed at turning outer space into a weapons-free zone. We firmly believe that space is a common heritage of mankind and it should be used for scientific research benefitting development and progress of the globe. Weapons systems in space may sooner or later malfunction and this will lead to a catastrophe.  Safety of space will foster international security and strategic stability, and will bring more predictability in the interstate relations. 

Russia and China have submitted a draft treaty preventing the placement of weapons in outer space to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. As a first step towards such a treaty all states involved in space exploration could join the initiative of not being the first to place weapons in outer space. In 2004 Russia took a unilateral decision not to be the first to place weapons in space, thus setting a good example for other countries to follow. In 2005 CSTO countries a pledged not to be the first to deploy weapons in space, which is also a good role model for other collective security organizations.

On December 14, 2012 the Presidents of Russia and Brazil issued a joint statement in support of this initiative. It is also important that in March in Geneva the CSTO member-countries issued a statement supporting the treaty. The Conference on Disarmament in Geneva is the ultimate ground for debating all the issues of space security.

Russia stands for a comprehensive approach to the safety of activities in space, trying to prevent a one-sided vision focusing only on current tasks. A safe and weapons free space is in the interest of the whole of humankind. The discussions on the use of space critical to global security should be continued.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.