Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Explanation of vote by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC vote on a Russian draft resolution on non-placement of weapons in outer space

Before the vote:


We all remember that on April 24 in this Chamber, the United States, Japan and their allies were unable to explain the “added value” of their draft resolution on the non-deployment of WMDs in outer space, which confirmed the obligations that all signatories of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty already had. By the same token, they were unable to give a valid reason why they refused to include in the draft our proposed provisions on preventing an arms race in space, which would have given the document some sense. Security Council’s vote revealed the only underlying purpose of the Western initiative – try to make Russia look unseemly and attribute to us plans and actions that we do not have. This situation delivered a big blow against the international efforts aimed at keeping space peaceful.

However, since the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS) and the preservation of outer space for exclusively peaceful purposes is an absolute imperative for us, we decided to give our Western colleagues another chance not in words but in deeds to prove the peaceful nature of their intentions. To that end, we have prepared an alternative draft Security Council resolution that, unlike the overtly politicized American-Japanese one, would guarantee exclusively peaceful exploration and use of space. We believe that the peaceful exploration of outer space, which has become a symbol of the tremendous progress of science and technology, should serve as an effective means of resolving many global problems, including those of economic development. This is what the world community has been striving to achieve for at least half of a century.

We are also convinced of the need to prevent space from becoming another arena of armed confrontation and warfare. It is now more important than ever that the complete exclusion of outer space from the arms race and its preservation for peaceful purposes should become a universally recognized international norm.

The draft that we are presenting is comprehensive and contains well-known provisions that reflect the interests and aspirations of the vast majority of UN member states. Thanks to its broad scope, it is aimed at reaffirming states' commitments not to use space for the deployment of any kind of weapons, including WMD. By the way, this is the language that our American colleagues had refused (on far-fetched pretexts) to include in the text of their Security Council resolution from the very beginning.

While working on the document, we adopted a responsible approach to the comments of all members of the Security Council. I tell you more: we made concessions to our Western colleagues and even removed a crucially important reference to the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on the non-deployment of weapons in outer space. By the way, this document is still on the table at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. It retains its relevance and is seen as the basis for future negotiations on a multilateral legally binding instrument on PAROS.


The draft resolution is of utmost importance in the context of the challenges that we face in outer space. Its adoption will reaffirm our collective commitment to preserving the peaceful nature of outer space, and make a significant contribution to international peace and security. Today's vote is a “moment of truth” for our Western colleagues. If they do not support the draft resolution, they will clearly signify that their main task is to maintain a free hand for the expedited militarization of outer space. This will be especially obvious given that all the provisions promoted by the United States and Japan on the non-deployment of WMDs in space, including nuclear weapons, are retained in our draft without any changes.

We call on all responsible participants in space activities to support our draft Security Council resolution.

Thank you.


Right of reply


While listening to a passionate speech of the American representative, we were wondering what resolution he was speaking about. Did he even read the text that we had put forward? It is not the first time the United States accuses Russia of aspiring to deploy nuclear weapons in space. The US representative has just mentioned some “satellite” that he believes (in a ‘highly likely’ fashion) can be nuclear powered. I did not even understand what he meant. But that is not the most important thing.

If the United States accuses Russia of seeking to deploy nuclear weapons in outer space, then what does the American representative not like about the text of the draft resolution we have proposed? It contains the same phrase as the American draft resolution that we vetoed on April 24. And we vetoed it for a reason. The American draft resolution was limited to WMDs only. We are proposing a resolution that covers both WMDs and all types of other weapons in outer space; a resolution that should prevent an arms race in outer space.

Let the American representative try to explain (if he can) what is wrong about our draft resolution, because it almost entirely repeats the text proposed by the United States and supplements it with all the other types of weapons that we believe cannot be deployed in outer space.

Thank you.


After the vote: 


In general, we are content with the result of the vote. Beyond the figures, it demonstrated the watershed between those who seek the peaceful exploration of space and those who seek its militarization. Western countries are now essentially isolated in the Council, and this is symptomatic.

It is deeply regrettable that they, Western members on UNSC, have prevented the UN Security Council from taking a balanced and much needed decision in favor of preserving space exclusively for peaceful use. By doing so, they have finally taken off their masks and, exposed themselves, and shown us what they really are.

As recently as last month, the United States and its allies, with all their characteristic cynicism, were literally beating their chests, loudly assuring everyone of their commitment to peaceful space. Now that they have confirmed their real intentions to continue militarizing space and developing appropriate weapons, their attempts to justify their actions by the allegedly non-consensual nature of our draft resolution look particularly cynical and hypocritical. Not to mention their sudden awareness of the importance of discussing the issue of PAROS at specialized “disarmament” platforms – the position for which that they criticized Russia a few weeks ago. And today the representative of Japan tried to kick this ball into our half of the pitch. However, we all remember that it was you who put this matter on the Council's agenda. The reason why you did not support our draft resolution today is banal and simple: you want to keep a free hand to use space for military purposes and to place any kind of weapons there.

The explanation that the American representative provided before the vote – sorry to say that, but it was ridiculous and could not stand any scrutiny, because it failed to answer the main question. The United States does not want WMDs in space, does it? Our draft resolution does have such a provision that we actually borrowed from the Japanese-American draft. So will you please explain why you are opposed to banning all other types of weapons in space? The other delegations who voted against our draft also had nothing to say, for that matter.

Colleagues, we urge all of you to think about the consequences that the inhabitants of the Earth will face in the event of the militarization of outer space. And, unfortunately, the odds of such a scenario (as the United States and its allies have once again proved today) are growing. We do not conceal that the active military exploration of outer space by Western countries is a matter of great concern to us. Suffice it to read the reports and statements (they are published regularly) of Western specialized agencies, in which such actions are called “self-defense” and are supported by generous funding, to make sure that our fears are real. At the same time, no one except the United States and its allies declares space a “military theater” or deploys strike combat systems in it.

Today we have heard from Western delegations quite a lot of hypocritical assessments and opinions regarding both our draft resolution and our intentions, as well as blatant lies about the methods of work on the draft resolution, on which we had held consultations, collected written comments and repeatedly extended the silence procedure at delegations’ request.

At the same time, today's vote is a defeat for all those who, like Russia, are trying to avoid the spread of confrontation into Earth’s orbit. Of course, the current situation will require analysis and reciprocal steps on our part. At the same time, Russia will remain committed to its obligations in outer space in accordance with international law. Incidentally, that is what the US representative rightly referred to. We have repeatedly reaffirmed and are reaffirming our commitments. Despite the aggressive attitude of the United States and its allies, we will continue to work actively in this area and make every effort together with responsible UN member states to keep outer space peaceful.

Thank you.