Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

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

Before the vote on Russian-Chinese amendment:


Today, our Council was once again involved in an unscrupulous play of the United States. There is a cynical forgery and deception, this time promoted by the American and Japanese sponsors of the draft resolution that we soon will vote on.

At first glance, the draft looks harmless and even positive, since it is formally devoted to a very important topic for the international community - the non-placement of weapons of mass destruction in outer space. However, hidden behind this is a devious plan by our Western colleagues that has nothing to do with this noble objective. I would like to recall that the ban on the placement of WMDs in space is already enshrined in the Outer Space Treaty and has been in force for 57 years since 1967. What, then, is the real background of the American-Japanese idea to reaffirm it in 2024? By choosing WMDs from all weapon types, Washington, Tokyo and their allies try to conceal their lack of interest in ensuring that no weapons of whatever kind be placed in space, which Russia and China have been insisting on since at least 2008. This is like trying to install a roof on a house before the walls are built and the overall design is endorsed. We are not opposed to discussing the roof, but only after first agreeing on all the other elements of this construct, which is exactly what Western delegations refuse to do.

Trying to depict Russia as a player with no interest in preventing an arms race in space (PAROS) who fails to observe the relevant obligations under international treaties is completely absurd.

Russia, as the author of a number of fundamental initiatives on PAROS, has always sought and is seeking ways to keep outer space free from any kind of weapons and preventing it from turning into another area of tension and armed confrontation. For us, these are priorities in the context of ensuring international security and strategic stability. We believe that achieving these goals is a prerequisite for free and equal access to outer space for all States without exception and for their equal participation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes for successful national, regional and global development. We are always ready to support any endeavor that can bring the global community closer to achieving this noble goal.

That is why, despite the absolutely absurd and politicized nature of the draft resolution proposed by our American and Japanese colleagues, the Russian Federation participated in discussions of the text throughout the entire period of consultations (for 5 weeks) in order to achieve a balanced "product" that would properly cover all aspects of PAROS. We proposed a number of relevant amendments. However, none of our concerns were addressed. We relentlessly urged the authors of the initiative to abandon their biased approach and return to constructive engagement taking on board the views of all Council members. However, taking into account the views of all UNSC members and reaching a consensus clearly was nowhere among their plans.

The document on which the Security Council is to take a decision today remains limited and politicized, aimed only at deepening the division among the members of the Council. It has nothing to do with issues of peaceful space and is not aimed at a comprehensive solution to the problem of PAROS.

Therefore we find it necessary to introduce a balancing amendment that will enable the Council to send a strong and unambiguous signal to the international community of our firm intention to exclude outer space from the sphere of the arms race (of any kind, not just nuclear weapons or WMDs) and to preserve it for peaceful purposes. This must become a mandatory norm of state policy and a universally recognized international obligation. There is no other way. Once arms race in space is prevented, it will unlock peaceful space exploration and the use of space for solving major problems of economic, social and cultural development that humanity is facing today, and unite the efforts of states in this area. Only afterwards (and not instead) we will be able to discuss various tracks of this task, including those relating to different types of WMDs.

For this purpose, together with the delegation of China, we propose that a new operative paragraph be included in the draft resolution and be formulated as follows:

Calls upon all States, and above all those with major space capabilities: (a) to take urgent measures to prevent for all time the placement of weapons in outer space and the threat or use of force in outer space, from space against Earth and from Earth against objects in outer space; (b) to seek through negotiations the early elaboration of appropriate reliably verifiable legally binding multilateral agreements.

Let me say it again. By proposing this amendment, Russia and China are not removing from the draft the call not to develop weapons of mass destruction and not to place them in outer space. We only supplement it with provisions that placement of any kind of weapons in outer space is inadmissible. By doing so, we add the other necessary elements of a house to the "roof" that the US and Japan propose to build.

This is what the overwhelming majority of States are now waiting for from the Security Council. We call on all responsible participants in space activities to support our proposal. The 15 delegations today have a special responsibility: not to take a step that, instead of solving the PAROS problem, will only lead to division and disunity. The UNSC should not play along with the sly initiatives of our American and Japanese colleagues, but should seek common ground and solve real rather than hypothetical problems.

Thank you.


After the vote on the draft resolution: 

Unfortunately, the UN Security Council today failed to adopt a balanced decision in favor of preserving space exclusively for peaceful exploration. This was the aim of the amendment proposed by Russia and China, which was not adopted.

It is telling that neither during today's meeting nor earlier the sponsors of the draft resolution had answered the question of what exactly they find wrong about our proposal to add a call not to place any weapons in space whatsoever. In other words, why do they need a roof if there are no walls? The real reason that prompted them to bring to UNSC such a strange draft resolution remains a mystery to many colleagues. Let us answer this question.

When reading out her remarks, the Permanent Representative of the United States disclosed herself, directly confirming that the only purpose for Washington to have introduced this draft was to vilify Russia. If the United States is really such a champion of peaceful outer space, why did you, dear colleagues, vote against our amendment to ban the deployment of any weapons there, not just WMDs? Your silence on this issue is more eloquent than any words. And it is certainly not for the United States to lecture others about the dangers of using nuclear weapons.

“Why?” was the question of the US Ambassador. Here is our answer. We want a ban on all weapons in space, not just WMDs, and you do not want that. Why is that? I will ask you the same question in return. My American colleague, by the way, told us about her trip to Japan, her visit to Nagasaki, and the horrific consequences of the nuclear bombing. May I ask her if she could enlighten us as to who carried out the nuclear bombing for the only time in the history of mankind? Or will our colleague from Japan tell us that? By the way, Japan is the country that has never in my memory named what state had bombed it. As if the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki really came from outer space and out of nowhere. The US Permanent Representative herself just said that President V. Putin repeatedly confirmed that Russia has no plans to place nuclear weapons in space. She said that the failure to adopt this resolution does not affect Russia's existing obligations under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty not to deploy nuclear weapons in space. Can Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield then explain why the United States and Japan introduced this draft resolution if it does not affect anything? Can we now introduce draft UN Security Council resolutions on every statement made by your President?

Much becomes clear if we recall that the US and its allies some time ago announced plans that include the deployment of weapons, in particular strike combat systems, in outer space, the use or threat of force in space, from space, and with respect to space and its use for combat operations. This is explicitly mentioned in a number of space strategies of Western states, which can be easily accessed in the public domain. In all previous years, the United States actively resisted any PAROS initiatives. A vivid example is the United States' longstanding opposition to the Russian-Chinese proposal for a draft treaty to prevent the placement of weapons in space, which was prepared as early as 2008.

On the other hand, Russia – and this is well known to specialized experts – has for many years pursued an absolutely different and constructive approach and promoted initiatives aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space in the relevant fora, namely the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the Conference on Disarmament, the UN Disarmament Commission, and the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Let me state again for the record that we are ready to conclude (even tomorrow) an international legally binding treaty that would contain a comprehensive ban on the deployment in outer space of any type of weapons, not only WMD, which are already prohibited by the Outer Space Treaty, as well as a ban on the use of force or threat of force in, from, or against space. The problem is that our Western partners are not ready for this, because they are engaged in active military exploration of space. Let us not allow them to mislead us with their sly speeches today, for they are not going to give up militarization of space.

The draft that the United States delegation put forward today without taking into account the Russian-Chinese proposal is nothing more than a propagandistic, politicized "product" that has nothing to do with preserving space for peaceful purposes. By such means, Washington is clumsily trying to deflect reasonable criticism from itself and shift responsibilities.

Moreover, it is also a convenient way to divert attention from Washington's recent shameful veto of Palestine's bid to become a full member of the UN, which prevented us from correcting years of "historical injustice" against the Palestinian people.

It is important not to lose sight of another extremely dangerous and harmful element of the American draft resolution. It is an obvious attempt to use the Security Council to introduce new restrictions, which have not been envisaged anywhere before, including the Outer Space Treaty, and which raises big questions from the legal perspective. The UNSC is an extremely inappropriate venue for this. The discussion of space security issues and the decisions taken should be comprehensive, involve all UN members and focus on eliminating the threat of an arms race in outer space and the emergence of armed conflicts there. Otherwise, this is nothing but an obvious attempt to impose the opinion of UNSC members on the rest of the UN membership. That’s for the notice of those who claim that the Security Council is taking prerogatives away from the UNGA.

Russia remains committed to its obligations in outer space in accordance with international law. We will not indulge anyone's aggressive plans or give the green light to double-dealing politicized initiatives.

If the Western members of the Security Council, who have just been shouting, foam at the mouth, about their commitment to peaceful outer space, are really ready to confirm this not by words but by concrete actions, we are ready to give them another chance. To this end, we plan to submit an alternative draft resolution to the UN Security Council in the near future and begin negotiations on it.

We hope that common sense and interest in preserving outer space as a peaceful environment will prevail over attempts to politicize this issue, which is paramount for normal life on Earth.

Thank you.