UN Security Council rejects Russia-drafted resolution banning weapons in space News
Neptuul, CC By-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
UN Security Council rejects Russia-drafted resolution banning weapons in space

The UN Security Council rejected on Monday a resolution drafted by Russia that urged countries to prevent the use of weapons in space. The resolution’s proclaimed purpose was to prevent an arms race in space and preserve space for exclusively peaceful purposes. With seven votes in favor, among them China, and seven against, the draft did not reach the nine affirmative votes necessary to be passed. Once adopted, UN Security Council Resolutions are legally binding on all member states.

Russia claimed that its proposal was an upgrade to a previous US-Japan-supported proposal that Russia vetoed in April. Russia’s Permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, called Monday’s vote a “moment of truth” for Western states, saying if they did not vote in favor of the resolution, it would demonstrate their intent to militarize space.

In response, US Ambassador Robert Wood claimed that Russia’s draft was part of a move to distract global attention from the development of a satellite carrying a nuclear device, calling it the culmination of “diplomatic gaslighting.” Content-wise, the representative criticized the “hastily” drafted text as bringing no “expansion” to the existing 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Instead, Wood said the text narrows the scope of protection and includes a “lengthy binding mechanism that cannot be verified.” Wood asserted that if Russia backs Russian President Vladimir Putin’s previous statement that there will be no weapons in space, it should have backed the former draft which was supported by over 65 states.

It is the second time the council has been split over a resolution regarding the topic since April 21, when Russia vetoed a similar resolution in April put forth by the US and Japan, calling that draft “absolutely absurd and politicized.”. The April draft was announced after the US accused Russia in February of developing an anti-satellite nuclear weapon to put in space.