UNITED STATES SAYS DISCUSSING MERITS OF TREATIES TO PREVENT ‘WEAPONIZATION’ OF OUTER SPACE ‘POINTLESS’, AS FIRST COMMITTEE CONTINUES THEMATIC DEBATES

GA/DIS/3349
22 October 2007

UNITED STATES SAYS DISCUSSING MERITS OF TREATIES TO PREVENT ‘WEAPONIZATION’ OF OUTER SPACE ‘POINTLESS’, AS FIRST COMMITTEE CONTINUES THEMATIC DEBATES

22 October 2007
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3349
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-second General Assembly

First Committee

13th Meeting (AM)


UNITED STATES SAYS DISCUSSING MERITS OF TREATIES TO PREVENT ‘WEAPONIZATION’


OF OUTER SPACE ‘POINTLESS’, AS FIRST COMMITTEE CONTINUES THEMATIC DEBATES


Several Speakers, Including China, Russian Federation, Warn Placement

Of Weapons in Outer Space Could Trigger Major Global Consequences, New Arms Race


“Discussions regarding the merits of treaties to prevent the so-called ‘weaponization’ of outer space would be a pointless exercise”, the United States representative asserted today in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), as it opened a thematic debate on the disarmament aspects of outer space.


He said that long experience had shown the futility of attempting to define what constituted a “space weapon”, or to effectively verify any proposed limitation of such weapons.  Any object orbiting or transiting through outer space could be a weapon if that object was placed intentionally on a collision course with another space object.  That made the treaty verification impossible.


The United States would continue to oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that sought to prohibit or limit access to, or use of, outer space, he said.  A treaty was not necessarily needed to foster good practices and common understanding.  Rather, good faith and goodwill were needed.


His country would also vigorously oppose any attempt to create superficially appealing, but inherently flawed, linkages between the pursuit of pragmatic transparency and confidence-building measures and legally binding space arms control constraints and limitations, he said.


China’s representative, noting that the United States had vigorously tried to block negotiations on outer space in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, said that if that country was concerned with outer space security, it should, as soon as possible, change its negative stance on outer space and agree to negotiate a new instrument at the Conference.


He said that the United States had launched a new policy on outer space last year, claming to seek freedom of movement in outer space, and it had sought to block the efforts of other countries to develop in outer space.  That had brought uncertainty to outer space security.  Moreover, the United States had never stopped developing outer space weapons and was completing military doctrines, such as the “star wars” space stations.  China had co-sponsored two draft resolutions in the Committee on the prevention of an outer space arms race.


The delegate from the Russian Federation said his country was very concerned about possible placement of weapons in outer space.  Such a development could upset the strategic global balance and result in possible danger.  The Russian Federation supported the conclusion of an arrangement to prevent the weaponization of space.  President Vladimir Putin, concerned that weaponizing outer space could trigger major global consequences, had drafted a treaty designed to fill in gaps in outer space law and guarantee that outer space did not become an arena for an arms race.


Sri Lanka’s representative, together with Egypt, introduced a draft resolution today on the prevention of an outer space arms race, saying it would be “the greatest folly of the human race” to allow outer space to become the new frontier for an arms race, at a time when problems of poverty, conflicts and disasters persisted around the world.  “Humankind simply cannot afford an arms competition of this nature”, as that would mean that precious material and energy resources would be squandered, he warned.


Similarly concerned, Kazakhstan’s speaker said that the conquest of space was useful to humanity for its enormous potential in terms of energy, protection of the environment and combating natural disasters.  Wrongful use of outer space would lead to new threats for all, undermining existing agreements on weapons limitations.  It would give a military advantage to some countries, undermining stability and security, and provoking other States to set up similar systems.


Canada’s representative said that, ultimately, the cornerstone of a multilateral architecture for space security was the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of a legally binding ban on space-based weapons.  The international community had a collective interest in preserving secure and sustainable access to and use of space, free of space-based threats.  There was a need for preventive diplomacy, as well as discussion, and it was necessary to redouble efforts to build mutual confidence and ensure space security.


Statements concluding the thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction, begun last week, were made by the representatives of Pakistan, Uruguay (on behalf of MERCOSUR), Poland and Qatar.


During the panel discussion on the fortieth anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, statements were made by Gerard Brachet, Chairman of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and Magnus Hellgren of the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations in Geneva.


Additional statements in the thematic debate on the disarmament aspects of outer space were made by delegates from the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea and Belarus.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 23 October to continue its thematic debate.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to conclude its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction and to begin debates on outer space (disarmament aspects) and on conventional weapons.


Thematic Debate Statements/Other Weapons of Mass Destruction


MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan), President of the Sixth Review Conference and Chairman of the 2007 meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention (Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and On Their Destruction), said that the Convention was “an instrument of principle, rather than procedure”, which contained no provision for monitoring or verification, but nevertheless remained an “effective barrier” against the development of biological weapons. 


He said that the Sixth Review Conference had agreed on several practical measures, among them:  a detailed intersessional work programme to help ensure implementation of the Convention until the Seventh Review Conference in 2011; measures to obtain universal adherence to the Convention; an update of the mechanism for the confidence-building measures, foreshadowing a more thorough review in 2011; a requirement for States parties to nominate a national point of contact to coordinate various aspects of national implementation and universalization; other measures to improve national implementation; and the establishment of an implementation support unit for the Convention. 


Efforts had also been made to encourage non-members to join the Convention, and Gabon, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, and Trinidad and Tobago had joined since the Conference’s conclusion, he noted.  The new system on secure electronic distribution of the confidence-building measures was operational, and measures submitted so far in 2007 were already available on that system.  The Meeting of Experts, held from 20 to 24 August, had been an opportunity to share information and experiences, and he believed the event had strengthened the Convention by moving it higher on national agendas and giving a renewed impetus to national implementation and regional cooperation activities.  The Meeting of States Parties would be held later this year, and he hoped the common understandings on national implementation and regional and subregional activities would bear fruit.


He said he had endeavoured to “create a new synergy among key international organizations and actors dealing with the BWC”, and towards that goal, he had invited Directors-General of the World Health Organization, the Organisation on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and Interpol to share their perspectives with the States parties of the Biological Weapons Convention.  He was also working to involve non-governmental organizations and industry more closely with the work of the Convention, adding, “we will not work in silos, but in shared open spaces, with each actor playing its unique but supportive role to fight the common threat of biological weapons”. 


Next year, the States parties to the Convention would turn to the subjects of biosafety and biosecurity, as well as to education and awareness-raising, he informed the Committee.  Dealing with the safety and security of biological resources, and ensuring that all those involved in relevant activities were aware of measures regulating their activities, would go a long way to ensure that the benefits of biotechnology were being shielded from its dangers.  Overall, the Biological Weapons Convention was “in good shape” and ready to confront the challenges ahead.


FEDERICO PERAZZA (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) on the subject of biological weapons, said that MERCOSUR member States had incorporated their commitment to the Biological Weapons Convention by means of strengthened safety and security measures, as called for in the resolution adopted by the Organization of American States.  The Southern Common Market commended the efforts by the Convention’s States parties during the Sixth Conference of the Convention, and stressed the importance of continuing progress during the intersessional period.  It reaffirmed the importance of giving the Convention a mechanism to ensure its effective implementation.  Members of the group were committed to working in a transparent and constructive fashion towards the treaty’s universalization.


Turning to chemical weapons, he reiterated the group’s commitment to the aims and purposes of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and On Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).  It supported its full effective and non-discriminatory implementation and urged continued efforts to achieve its universality.  It welcomed the increasing participation of States in the Convention and urged the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to continue its work towards achieving universal adherence and implementation.  It also called on those States that had not yet done so to adhere to it.


There was need for greater cooperation between States parties and for their renewed efforts to ensure the Convention’s effective implementation through the development of mechanisms to promote collaboration by the developed countries.  He urged those countries to create and promote national measures and to fulfil the obligations emanating from the Convention, by promoting the development of national chemical industries for peaceful uses.


He said that the Southern Common Market member countries did not possess chemical weapons or installations for their production.  The Convention guaranteed the right of States parties to request, and to receive, assistance and protection against the use or threat of use of chemical weapons, and the group reiterated its special appeal to those countries that possessed chemical weapons to comply with their obligations within the time frame contained in the Convention and to destroy their stockpiles.  It reaffirmed that the Convention was one of the key international legal instruments for channelling multilateral efforts aimed at the complete elimination of weapons of mass destruction.


Thematic Debate Statements/Outer Space


PRASAD KARIYAWASAM (Sri Lanka), introducing a draft resolution, together with Egypt, on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/C1/62/L.34), said that outer space was being used extensively for peaceful purposes, with the spread of commercial satellites and space crafts, and, by 2010 or so, the total number of satellites around the Earth would reach 2,000.  However, advances in technology had also led to “concepts that also seek to exploit space for military purposes”, and ideas such as the control of outer space, and power projection into and through outer space, were being discussed. 


He said that it would be “the greatest folly of the human race” to allow outer space to become the new arena for an arms race, at a time when problems of poverty, conflicts, and disasters persisted around the world.  “Humankind simply cannot afford an arms competition of this nature”, he said, as that would mean that precious material and energy resources would be squandered.


The international community was committed individually and collectively to combating terrorism -- that “abominable phenomenon” -- but a weapons-based approach was not the solution.  Taking the arms race into outer space would not ensure human security on the ground from terrorist groups.  Instead, the resources that would be expended on space-based weapon systems could be best used in multifaceted and multidimensional tasks to combat terrorism.  Moreover, the deployment of weapons in outer space could result in a series of grave fallouts, with the existing strategic balance coming under strain.  Such a situation could also threaten the security of outer space assets and potentially harm the Earth’s biosphere, giving rise to the issue of “space debris”. 


It was clear that taking measures to prevent an outer space arms race was more effective and less expensive than striving to roll back such a race after it had already begun, he said.  In that context, the sponsors of the draft resolution wished to introduce the text for the Committee’s consideration, and hoped that an ad hoc committee on the prevention of an arms race in outer space could be established.  It was unfortunate that long-held understandings on the issue were under threat of being rolled back, but he expected that the text would enjoy the widest possible support.


Panel Discussion on Fortieth Anniversary of Outer Space Treaty


GERARD BRACHET, Chairman, Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUS), said that the increasing number of actors in outer space called for a fresh look at the needs that might crop up with regard to the “rules of the game”, which would help to keep outer space a safe place.  Since its creation, the Outer Space Committee had played a key role in developing the legal framework for space activities.  That had included the development of five international treaties, completed in the context of the Committee and subsequently submitted for ratification.  The first had been the Outer Space Treaty. 


He said that the Committee has also elaborated and submitted a number of texts, on principles, for approval to the General Assembly.  Those had been important for the conduct of space activities, and they had defined basic principles, such as the principle governing the use by States of artificial satellite for television broadcasting.


The Committee had also elaborated several resolutions designed to reinforce and clarify international positions on space law, he said.  Currently, there were some 13,000 pieces of space debris around the Earth, ranging from little pieces to dead satellites.  Last February, a subcommittee had made recommendations on the issue of space debris mitigation, which had been endorsed by the Committee in June.  That action was representative of the remarkable work being done to develop a consensus on a set of rules of behaviour in space operation, in this case designed to reduce production of debris in the future.


He said that there was the need to acknowledge the lack of a consensus on reopening the Outer Space Treaty, or to design a new international convention.  There was, however, a shared feeling that a bottom-up approach, based on technical guidelines, would make it possible to produce recommendations, on the basis of which the international community could get the rules of good conduct that would keep space safe.


On manned space activities, the trend today was driven by the urge to explore, he said, adding that the political motivation, however, remained quite pertinent.  New activities would be designed for discovery and could lead to development of new applications.  He predicted that new space business activities -– better known as space tourism -– would be more difficult than some people had thought, particularly technically, because of safety considerations and because of the limited market size.  Additional effort would be required for a legal and regulatory framework.  Some treaties had not yet been ratified by some countries that had space activities.  Also, domestic frameworks should be brought in line with international treaties.  The development of internationally accepted “rules of the road” was another good in that area.


In the twenty-first century, spatial activities would continue to be most exciting because of a surprising mixture of strategic considerations and contributions to human society, he added.  The United Nations must continue to play a key role, so as to facilitate peaceful uses of space and its development for the benefit of all.


MAGNUS HELLGREN ( Sweden) said that, in order to move away from the long-standing linguistic and philosophic debate over the phrase “prevention of an arms race in outer space”, the discussion in the Conference on Disarmament had lately moved to plans for a treaty to prevent the placement of weapons in outer space, or a “PPW” treaty.  Some had also argued that outer space was already militarized, since many weapon systems from “militarization” to preventing “weaponization” of outer space included space-based components.  Thus, debate in the Conference had moved on.


He said that the treaty, as presently being discussed, would not ban ground-based missile defence systems, since such missiles were not in orbit and did not constitute space objects.  However, there was disagreement over what constituted a “weapon” in outer space.  One key question revolved around whether the treaty should ban developing and testing ground-based anti-satellite weapons, or only their use, an issue brought to the forefront by the Chinese test of such a weapon on 11 January of this year.  Sweden had called for a comprehensive ban, on the grounds that if only the use of such systems was banned, their continued development by a few countries would likely have destabilizing effects.


Verification was a difficult question, and more work in that regard was needed, he said.  Some had called for the negotiation of a normative treaty without verification procedures, while others submitted that, since verification could not be sufficiently effective, that was a further argument against even attempting to negotiate any new treaty.  On transparency and confidence-building measures, many proposals had been put forward by States and scientific experts, such as on “rules of the road” and “code of conduct” for outer space activities.  The issue of transparency and confidence-building measures highlighted the importance of close links and cooperation between the Conference and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.  Looking ahead to the Conference’s 2008 session, he hoped for an early decision on a work programme which included substantive negotiation on outer space issues.


GILLIAN FROST (Canada), noting that Canada had served as Coordinator at the Conference on Disarmamentfor the agenda item on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, said that the conclusions reached in the Coordinator’s report had included:  the need for improved implementation and universalization of existing outer space security agreements; the contribution of transparency and confidence-building measures in enhancing space security; and support for more dialogue between the Conference on Disarmament and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. 


She welcomed the adoption by the outer space Committee of debris mitigation guidelines, saying that useful preliminary work was being done internationally on the question of possible space traffic management guidelines.  Canada supported efforts to increase transparency in space activities.  Her country was convinced of the need to develop a broader concept of space security to address the military, environmental, commercial and civil dimensions of space. 


All nations shared responsibility to ensure that the continued access and use of outer space by the global community would not be jeopardized by human activities.  Ultimately, the cornerstone of a multilateral architecture for space security was the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of a legally binding ban on space-based weapons.  The international community had a collective interest in preserving secure and sustainable access to and use of space, free of space-based threats.  There was a need for preventive diplomacy, as well as discussion, and it was necessary to redouble efforts to build mutual confidence and ensure space security.


GEORGE PATAKI ( United States) said that his country remained committed to continued leadership in the peaceful use of outer space.  It also took pride in its contributions to the efforts of the United Nations to establish and sustain the principle of free access to, and use of, outer space by all nations for peaceful purposes.  Those diplomatic efforts had included the General Assembly‘s Declaration of Legal Principles in 1962, which formed the basis for the key precepts of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies).  Those principles helped to bring an end to the cold war-era “space race”. 


Continuing, he said that the International Space Station, which would pass 350 kilometres above New York this evening, was today the centrepiece of humanity’s collective desire to explore, work, and live together in the “final frontier”.  The United States, the Russian Federation, Europe, Canada, Japan and Brazil were pooling their resources and expertise in that collaborative effort, which built upon years of peaceful cooperation and development.


In addition to exploration, the United States looked forward to discussing new opportunities to cooperate with other outer space-faring nations in the peaceful use of outer space, he went on.  In the area of space activities supporting international peace and security, one possible topic was that of transparency and confidence-building measures.  The need for cooperation had been highlighted earlier this year when China intentionally destroyed its own weather satellite with a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile on 11 January.  Experts had estimated that the debris created by that test had included more than 2,200 trackable objects, and another 33,000 pieces of debris greater than 1 centimetre in size, but too small to track.  The United States urged China to be more forthcoming with the international community regarding its motivations for, and specific circumstances surrounding, its anti-satellite test.


He said that China’s test had generated international concern regarding hazards posed to human space flight and other peaceful space activities, and it had been conducted without prior notice or consultations with other nations.


“Discussions regarding the merits of treaties to prevent the so-called ‘weaponization’ of outer space would be a pointless exercise,” he said.  That was an area that the United States believed was counterproductive to the interests of maintaining international peace and security in outer space.  Long experience had shown the futility of attempting to define what constituted a “space weapon”, or to effectively verify any proposed limitation of such weapons.  His country would continue to oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that sought to prohibit or limit access to, or use of, outer space.  It would also vigorously oppose any attempt to create superficially appealing, but inherently flawed, linkages between the pursuit of pragmatic transparency and confidence-building measures and legally binding space arms control constraints and limitations. 


He stressed that a treaty was not necessarily needed to foster good practices and common understanding. Rather, good faith and goodwill were needed.  Any object orbiting or transiting through outer space could be a weapon if that object was placed intentionally on a collision course with another space object.  That made the treaty verification impossible.


JOHANNES C. LANDMAN ( Netherlands) said that the world had become increasingly dependent on space activities, and that the importance of maintaining outer space for peaceful activities had grown accordingly.  Existing international instruments on the issue had many shortcomings.  The European Union had submitted its reaction to the resolution on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities, General Assembly resolution 61/75, and it had introduced concrete proposals, including a comprehensive code of conduct on space objects and space activities.


He said that a code of conduct, or “rules of the road”, would be a “stepping stone” towards a legally binding instrument on international space security, by which States wouldcommit themselves to refrain from acts, including tests that could harm any satellite or other space object.  That would generate a certain degree of additional security and positively influence the international climate and willingness to discuss legally binding rules for outer space activities.


The compromise package for a programme of work now on the table at the Conference on Disarmament would allow for “substantial discussion” on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, he said.  That package could become a “crucial step forward”.  Progress in space security had so far been hampered by the absence of international discussions on the subject.


VICTOR V. VASILIEV ( Russian Federation) said that dynamic developments in space exploration, such as the successful landing of Russian cosmonauts and a Malaysian astronaut, had enhanced cooperation among nations and made it possible to address common problems.  His country was very concerned about possible of placement of weapons in outer space.  Such a development could upset global strategic balance and result in possible danger.  Thus, the Russian Federation advocated the prevention of the placement of weapons in space and supported the conclusion of a relevant arrangement to that effect.


He recalled a statement made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Munich several months ago, in which he had said that the world could not allow new weapons in outer space, as that could trigger major global consequences.  The President had presented a draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, which was designed to fill gaps in outer space law and to guarantee that outer space did not turn into an area for an arms race.  There had been positive reactions from States in response to that draft.   Russia and China had co-sponsored resolutions on the prevention of an outer space arms race.


The Russian Federation remained totally committed to that position, he continued.  This year, with China, his delegation would submit a draft resolution on the subject.  The text already had 25 co-sponsors and was in line with last year’s resolution.  His country was convinced that cooperation with the peaceful use of outer space was in accordance with the interest and security of all States.


He said that the Russian Federation had listened to the statement by the United States and, in that regard, it would like to stress its readiness to continue to cooperate with all delegations, in order to come up with mutually acceptable solutions to acute problems, including weapons in outer space.


MURAT TASHIBAYEV ( Kazakhstan) said the conquest of space was useful to humanity for its enormous potential in terms of energy, protection of the environment, and combating natural disasters.  However, the wrongful use of outer space would lead to new threats for all, undermining existing agreements on weapons limitations.  It would give a military advantage to some countries, undermining stability and security, and provoking other States to set up similar systems.


He said that an increasing number of countries had the potential to place weapons in outer space.  More than 130 States were currently involved in space exploration in one form or another.  Kazakhstan had no plans to place weapons of any kind in space, although the country had a space centre on its territory and a national, peaceful space programme.  Kazakhstan had acceded to the international code on ballistic missiles and was governed by agreements in that sphere. 


Cooperation in transparency and confidence-building were necessary in preventing the militarization of outer space, he said, expressing support for the resolution on transparency and confidence-building.  He called on all countries to support that resolution.  He, likewise, supported the Russian Federation’s initiative on not being the first to put weapons in outer space.


LI YANG( China) said that it was mankind’s common obligation to maintain outer space security.  The international community had made an unremitting effort to ensure the peaceful use of outer space.  He appreciated the positive role of the Outer Space Treaty and other instruments, but the existing legal system had obvious defects and could not prevent the weaponization and arms race in space.  New systems would likely be deployed in outer space, with a severe impact on the international strategic balance and stability.  Thus, the legal system needed to be improved and constantly updated to keep pace with the times. 


He said that addressing the flaws in the current system was the only way to address that problem, and a common understanding had been arrived at in that regard.  An overwhelming majority of States had reached that conclusion, and the General Assembly had adopted resolutions endorsing the drafting of a new agreement on outer space.  It went without saying that the Conference on Disarmament met the conditions to deal with substantive outer space issues.   China supported the work in the Conference on outer space matters and, with the Russian Federation, had consulted with concerned States.  Hopefully, the Conference could establish an ad hoc committee on outer space to launch the process of negotiations for a treaty.


This year, in the First Committee, China would co-sponsor two draft resolutions on prevention of an arms race.


The United States delegation had made unwarranted comments on China’s space test in its statement before the Committee today, he said.  As a matter of fact, the United States had vigorously tried to block the negotiations on outer space in the Conference on Disarmament.  If that country was concerned with outer space security, it should, as soon as possible, change its negative stance on outer space and agree to negotiate a new instrument at the Conference.  The United States last year had launched a new policy on outer space, claming to seek freedom of movement in outer space, and it had sought to block the efforts of other countries to develop in outer space.  That had brought uncertainty to outer space security.


Continuing, he said that the United States had never stopped developing outer space weapons and was completing military doctrines, such as the “star wars” space stations.  That country had abolished the ABM Treaty (Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems) and was stepping up efforts to develop anti-missile systems.  Those developments were a cause of concern for the international community.


Space debris was a problem that had existed for a long time, he said.  Most of that debris had nothing to do with China.  It was estimated that there were some 10,000 pieces of debris of more than 10 centimetres in diameter in space.  More than 40 per cent of that debris belonged to the United States.  That meant that the United States was not in a position to point a finger at China.   China attached great importance to the problem caused by debris in outer space and had participated in discussions on debris in the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, with a view to identifying ways and means to address that problem.


CHANG DONG-HEE ( Republic of Korea) said that the process of globalization depended on safeguarding the peaceful use of outer space.  The international community could no longer take the unlimited and safe access to space resources for granted, as radio-frequency spectrums were almost saturated, and orbital positions were densely crowded.  Satellites and spacecrafts were threatened by space debris and could potentially be targeted by space weapons.  The industrial sector was increasingly involved in space activities, and barriers between civil and military activities in space were dissolving. 


He said that international dialogue was important on the issue, as were transparency and confidence-building measures.  Also important was to promote universal adherence to arrangements such as the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space and the Hague Code of Conduct, and to ensure full compliance with them.


His country viewed the potential impact of the proliferation of space debris on the peaceful uses of outer space as a source of great concern, as there was always a possibility of damage on the ground as well as in space, he said.  The endorsement by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space of the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines, which provided for the avoidance of the intentional destruction of any “on-orbit” spacecraft and other harmful activities, had been welcomed.  Noting that the peaceful and cooperative use of outer space was in everyone’s interest, he urged the world community to redouble its efforts towards universalization and effective implementation of existing global regimes governing outer space.


VALERY KOLESNIK ( Belarus) confirmed his country’s support for the drafting of an international agreement preventing the placement of weapons in outer space.   Belarus also favoured the establishment of a special committee to discuss that subject within the Conference on Disarmament, and was committed to efforts to enhance security in space.  New security and confidence-building measures in outer space should aim to advance existing international legal instruments.  Belarus was involved in a peaceful programme for outer space.  An international legal instrument was particularly necessary, in order to ensure greater transparency and to regulate the problem of debris in outer space, as well as to ensure safety in space. 


He said his country believed that real space security could be achieved only by the adoption of a comprehensive agreement.  The Russian Federation had made a significant contribution through the moratorium it had adopted not to be the first to place weapons in outer space, and it invited others to join.  Belarus supported that moratorium and hoped it would cover all States with space launching capabilities and space exploration programmes.  He urged all such States to adopt that moratorium and move towards a legally binding treaty.


Thematic Debate Statements/Other Weapons of Mass Destruction


ZDZISŁAW RAPACKI ( Poland) recalled the high-level meeting held on 27 September on the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and noted that his country had highlighted the important role of the United Nations in meeting the growing dangers of weapons of mass destruction.   Poland was satisfied with the great support expressed by the participating ministers for multilateralism as a true way to effectively deal with security and non-proliferation challenges and threats.  That meeting had been an important disarmament and non-proliferation event.  It had demonstrated the international community’s great interest in working at the United Nations to strengthen norms and activities to stem the dangerous proliferation of mass destruction weapons.


He recalled the statement by Poland’s Foreign Minister at that meeting expressing Poland’s hope that the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) -– as examples of multilateralism –- would serve as models for other disarmament and non-proliferation arrangements.   Poland also hoped that using such good examples as a basis, the international community would help to overcome the stalemate in that area.


NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) noted that Qatar had signed and ratified the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.  His country had also enacted legislations to fully meet its obligations under the Convention and had created a National Committee on the Prohibition of Arms, in order to develop procedures and measures for coordination and implementation of the Convention, and to meet the instrument’s application requirements with the relevant Government and foreign actors.  Qatar had also carried out a number of training sessions on protection against chemical weapons for the armed forces and their supporting security and civilian response agencies, and it had hosted the Fifth Regional Meeting of National Authorities of States Parties to the Convention, in Doha.


He noted that Qatar had also submitted its annual declaration on its facilities, in accordance with the Convention, and on the import and export of chemical materials.  The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had conducted inspections in three State facilities during the previous inspection period, and the outcome of those inspections had been in line with the Convention’s requirements.  The Organisation had commended the good organization, coordination and full cooperation between the inspection team, Qatar’s National Committee and the facilities’ authorities.


Qatar considered the Chemical Weapons Convention to be an important component of the global multilateral system to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said.  Threats to use those weapons were still a source of concern, and the international community must pursue realistic efforts to curb those threats, create chemical-weapon-free zones, and stress the need for States to limit their programmes and technologies to the exclusively peaceful use of chemical materials, as provided for in the Convention.  Chemical-weapon States must dispose of those weapons, in order to preserve the credibility of the Convention, and he welcomed the efforts of some States in that context.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.