Raising Alarm over Possible Space Wars, First Committee Delegates Explore Ways to Build New Order for Preventing Celestial Conflict, Confrontation

GA/DIS/3609
24 October 2018
Seventy-third Session, 16th & 17th Meetings (AM & PM)

Raising Alarm over Possible Space Wars, First Committee Delegates Explore Ways to Build New Order for Preventing Celestial Conflict, Confrontation

To prevent outer space from becoming another military battlefield, delegates today explored ways to establish a rules‑based order to securely govern that sphere, which they called “a common asset for humanity”, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its work.

“Taking into consideration the extreme fragility and volatility of the outer space environment,” Egypt’s representative said, “it must not be allowed to turn into another battlefield or a scene for military conflicts that could have catastrophic implications.”

Echoing the views expressed by the Arab Group, African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, he stressed that outer space is a shared heritage owned equally by all the peoples of the world and a common asset for humanity.  Therefore, there is a clear need for a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race and fill existing legal gaps.  Such an instrument should have a comprehensive scope that includes four prohibitions:  the placement of any weapons, defensive or offensive; armed attacks against satellites or any outer space assets; intentional, harmful interference that interrupts the normal functioning of such assets; and developing, testing and stockpiling weapons designed to attack outer space assets.

The representatives of China and the Russian Federation highlighted their draft treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, which the delegations submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in 2008 and again in 2014.

The Conference on Disarmament has been deadlocked for the past two decades and negotiators in Vienna failed to reach agreement on key aspects of the safety of space operations, said the Russian Federation’s delegate.  However, the first session of the Group of Governmental Experts held in August gives hope that it will be in a position to prepare recommendations, he added.

While many delegations supported the Chinese‑Russian draft treaty, some others expressed divergent views on the initiative.  Australia’s delegate said the proposal could have counterproductive consequences by allowing an unfettered development of terrestrial and dual‑use counter‑space systems.  In addition, she said, the proposed definition of a space weapon is unworkable and fails to address the problem of terrestrial, dual‑use threats and the stockpiling of deployable weapons.

Likewise, the representative of the United Kingdom said the international community must reach a common understanding of what a space weapon is, as any object with manoeuvring capabilities can in theory be used for offensive purposes, he said.  While the United Kingdom does not rule out the possibility of agreeing to a legally binding treaty on outer space in the future, he said that before negotiations on such an instrument begin, serious political, technological and practical challenges must be resolved.  In addition, any new and binding instrument would also need to be comprehensive, effective and verifiable.

Looking forward, South Africa’s representative said that while his country supports the Chinese‑Russian draft treaty, it is highly unlikely such an agreement can be reached in the Conference on Disarmament in the near future.  Therefore, other avenues, such as the General Assembly, should be explored.

During the discussion, African countries highlighted how space technologies are becoming increasingly vital to meeting their development needs.  Malawi’s representative said space technologies are critical to water resource management and climate change responses, recalling how the United Nations helped to provide invaluable satellite images that enabled authorities to plan evacuation routes in 2015 during the country’s worst flood.

In the morning session, the Committee concluded its thematic discussion on other weapons of mass destruction, heard a briefing on the third United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, held in June, and commenced its debate on conventional weapons.

Speaking on the issue of other weapons of mass destruction were the representatives of Turkey, Argentina, Australia, Thailand, Syria, Brazil, Spain, Myanmar, Italy, Bangladesh, China, United Kingdom, El Salvador, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Philippines, Iran, Lithuania, Austria and the Netherlands.  France’s delegate spoke on behalf of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.  The representatives of the Russian Federation, Syria, United States, Israel, Iran and United Kingdom spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

Delivering statements on conventional weapons were representatives of Indonesia (for the Non‑Aligned Movement), Yemen (for the Arab Group) and Viet Nam (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

Speaking today on outer space were representatives of Cuba, Paraguay, Kazakhstan, Morocco (for the African States), Nepal, France, Algeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Myanmar, Italy, Republic of Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Namibia, Iran, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Ecuador.  The Permanent Observer for the Holy See also delivered a statement.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply on that subject were representatives of the Russian Federation, Syria, United States, United Kingdom and France.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 25 October, to continue its work.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3597 of 8 October.

Presentation

YANN HWANG, Ambassador of France to the Conference on Disarmament — speaking on behalf of Jean‑Claude Bruent, President of the Third United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons — presented the report of the Third Review Conference held on 18‑29 June.

The Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument are essential tools to combat the spread and use of conventional weapons, he said.  Approximately 900 million small arms and light weapons are in circulation worldwide, causing 500,000 deaths each year.  Illicit trade in these weapons is a violation of international law; it perpetuates conflicts, hampers development and feeds terrorism.  France worked hard to fulfil its responsibility for the Conference.  The Programme of Action is the only universal instrument in this area that shows the common path to meet the global challenges in all dimensions.

To reach goals, 10 transparent and inclusive preparatory sessions were held, he said.  And for the first time, all plenary meetings were open to civil society and industry.  During the Conference, 98 States participated in the general debate, with seven speaking on behalf of groups.  A couple of difficulties arose during the discussions, concerning the inclusion of munitions in the Programme of Action and a reference to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Conference adopted the 21‑page Political Declaration and a timetable for implementation for the 2018‑2024 period, he said, expressing hope that “this impetus should be maintained”.

Other Weapons of Mass Destruction

ELIF ÇALIŞKAN (Turkey) said the risk of weapons of mass destruction use by non‑State actors is a matter of great concern.  Her Government reaffirms its support for arms control and non‑proliferation treaties and their verification control regimes.  Condemning the use of weapons of mass destruction as a crime against humanity, as well as their recent resurgence in Iraq, Malaysia, Syria and the United Kingdom, she said this cannot become “the new normal”.  Meanwhile, Turkey strongly supports the decision made in The Hague in June on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to hold perpetrators in Syria to account.  At the same time, Turkey is concerned that the Organisation’s fact‑finding mission has identified further uses of chemical weapons in Syria and that gaps remain in the declaration of the Syrian regime.  She welcomed the destruction of Libya’s remaining category 2 chemical weapons as well as the destruction of Iraq’s entire declared stockpile of chemical weapon remnants.  She reiterated Turkey’s support for the Biological Weapons Convention and efforts towards its universalisation.

ALEJANDRO GUILLERMO VERDIER (Argentina) said his country is committed to the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and encourages continued work to achieve its universalisation.  The use of such weapons is a clear violation of international law and all perpetrators should be brought to justice, he said.  Argentina participates in the OPCW mentoring programme, with a view to protecting chemicals in laboratories.  He stressed that greater effort should be placed on enhancing all aspects of the Convention.  Highlighting new challenges re‑emerging such as the threat of chemical terrorism, he welcomed related initiatives to tackle that threat.  He urged States to avoid political divisions on the Organisation and called for consensus in bodies governing the Convention.  He went on to renew his country’s commitment to the full implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention.

SALLY MANSFIELD (Australia) said further violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention continue to test Member States’ resolve to defend this key international treaty and norm of behaviour.  Recalling the June decision on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, she called on all Member States to support the Organisation in establishing an attribution mechanism.  Such instruments send a clear message that users of chemical weapons will be held accountable.  The use of chemical weapons in Syria remains a dark legacy of shame for the Syrian regime, its backers, and certainly non‑State actors, she said.  She commended the ongoing work of the OPCW fact‑finding mission on Syria, as well as the Organisation’s work in responding to the use of a nerve agent in the United Kingdom.  Concerning the Biological Weapons Convention, she highlighted its serious financial situation, exacerbated by the failure of some States to pay their annual contributions.

KATE VASHARAKORN (Thailand), aligning herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that proven perpetrators of chemical weapon attacks must be held accountable with a verification process that is transparent, balanced and consensual.  Welcoming the successful conclusion of the 2017 Meeting of Sates Parties of the Biological Weapons Convention, she said that all priorities of the Convention’s intersessional programme are important, especially institutional strengthening of the Convention.

ABDULLAH HALLAK (Syria) said, his country, as a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, destroyed chemical weapons and submitted all chemical substances to the OPCW.  Therefore, his delegation denies all allegations made against his Government about the use of chemical weapons.  “Our army has no chemical weapons, we never used it and never intend to use it,” he said, expressing his Government’s readiness to support efforts to find the perpetrators.  Syria supports efforts to make the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.  His Government had warned the international community that terrorist groups might be using these weapons, and it rejects the decision made at the special meeting in June of the State Parties to the Convention.  Some delegations, including the United States, United Kingdom, and France have politicized the OPCW.  That decision adopted by less than half of the 173 Parties is not valid.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) expressed regret over the high level of polarization and the erosion of the culture of consensus in the policy‑making bodies of the OPCW, especially in the Executive Council.  Regarding the decision of the latest special session of the Conference of the States Parties, his delegation believes that changes to the Convention or to the working methods of the body should have taken place in the Executive Council and in the context of the Working Groups set up for the upcoming Review Conference in November.  The decision on the establishment of a Special Office for Attribution will demand further debate concerning the unit’s mandate, structure and working methods.

MARÍA PALACIOS PALACIOS (Spain) said that uncertainty can jeopardize norms that have successfully contained horizontal and vertical proliferation.  She called on Member States to persist in the common goal of a world without weapons of mass destruction and express support for the Secretary‑General’s disarmament agenda.  Pointing to the situation in Syria, she lamented that some weapons thought to be relegated to the history books are being used in the worst way possible.  Complacency regarding the situation is not acceptable, she added.  In the absence of consensus on the extension of the OPCW‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, Spain supports a new mechanism created by the Organisation.  She underscored measures that can be pursued, including confidence‑building and export control measures, and the creation of a code of conduct for scientists.  Concerning Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), she said the resolution has great potential that has not been fully explored.

PYE SOE AUNG (Myanmar) said the international community must redouble its efforts towards the total elimination of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction.  Myanmar is committed to the complete elimination of chemical weapon stockpiles and is heartened by the OPCW announcement that more than 96 per cent of declared chemical weapons have been destroyed.  At the same time, the use of such weapons cannot be tolerated by any State or non‑State actor.  Concerning the Biological Weapons Convention, he reiterated the importance of its universalisation and called on those who have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Convention without delay.  He went on to note the importance of the full implementation of Council resolution 1540 (2004) in addressing the danger of weapons of mass destruction.

GIANFRANCO INCARNATO (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said that condemnation of use of chemical weapons is not enough.  The international community must ensure accountability and continue to take a clear stance against impunity for such heinous crimes.  Italy actively participates in the Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.  Italy welcomes the June 2018 decision of the special session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention to enhance the OPCW’s capacity to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons’ use.  His Government also attaches importance to the Biological Weapons Convention and recognizes the need to give it appropriate tools to respond rapidly to emerging needs and challenges.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh) reiterated its call for universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention, urging States to expedite their ratification if they have not done so.  While reducing remaining stockpiles, vigilance must be sustained.  His delegation condemns chemical weapons’ use by anyone anywhere.  Those who use those weapons must be held accountable.  The OPCW must preserve its integrity.  The Security Council should play a role in facilitating an investigative mechanism to hold the perpetrators accountable.  His delegation is also alarmed by chemical terrorism and the possibility of those weapons falling into the hands of non‑State actors, also taking into account the possible implications in science and technology.  Bangladesh is committed to the Biological Weapons Convention and is alarmed by the increasing likelihood of biological warfare, he said, underscoring the need for a framework for coordinated international response, and the need to close the funding shortfall.

JI HAOJUN (China) said preventing the misuse of biotechnology plays a vital role in strengthening global biosecurity.  To tackle challenges posed by advances in biotechnology, China has actively promoted a model code of conduct for bioscientists under the framework of the Biological Weapons Convention.  China resolutely opposes the use of chemical weapons by any State, organization or individual and under any circumstances.  Dealing with the alleged use of chemical weapons requires the full use of existing mechanisms under the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Highlighting the June decision on OPCW, which underscored divisions among States Parties, he expressed concern that a vote was forced without extensive consultations.  Meanwhile, he expressed regret that a certain possessor State Party and abandoning State Party failed to complete the destruction of chemical weapons within the time limit stipulated by the Convention.  The early completion of the destruction of chemical weapons, including chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China, deserves the same attention as the alleged use of chemical weapons, he said.

AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom) said the use of chemical and biological weapons is repugnant to human consciousness.  While the norm against their use has persisted for decades, today their use has tragically continued.  He condemned the appalling attacks in Syria, which are an affront to the rules‑based international system.  Identifying the perpetrators in future attacks is key.  Meanwhile, he admonished the Russian Federation for attempts to block the holding of the perpetrators of a nerve agent attack in his country to account.  More broadly, the United Kingdom supports an increase in the OPCW budget and has pledged 1 million pounds to the Organisation to implement the June decision.  Concerning biological weapons, he said the Biological Weapons Convention is the cornerstone on the international ban on such weapons and called for its universalisation.  At the same time, sustainable funding is vital for the healthy future of the Convention.  The proliferation of ballistic missiles also poses a danger to regional and international security, he said before calling on Iran to refrain from any related activities.  He went on to highlight Council resolution 1540 (2004) and its central role in preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of non‑State actors.

HÉCTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), condemning use of chemical weapons by anyone anywhere, said that work must continue to implement the Chemical and the Biological Weapons Conventions.  Use of these weapons is contrary to international law and humanitarian law.  Underscoring the role of OPCW, he welcomed progress made on the destruction of chemical weapons.  “But a lot remains to be done,” he said.  Regarding the Biological Weapons Convention, he said the last Review Conference failed to achieve consensus on the updated programme of work, expressing hope that progress will be made in the intersessional period for the next Review Conference in 2021.  Technical cooperation and international assistance are essential.  His delegation welcomed the accession to the treaty by the State of Palestine and the Central African Republic.

SHIVANAND SIVAMOHAN (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that judicial proceedings concerning the use of the VX nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February 2017, will resume in the Malaysian High Court in November.  All relevant developments have been shared with the OPCW Executive Council.  In that regard, all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention need to take further measures towards destroying all declared stockpiles of such weapons.  He reiterated the need to protect that organization from potential extraneous influences in the conduct of its work, which is essential to preserving its institutional integrity.  Moreover, effective verification measures must be put in place to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.   Malaysia is currently pursuing domestic processes to adopt a national biological weapons bill and will also participate in exchanging equipment, materials and information for the use of those agents and toxins for peaceful purposes.

LEE JANG-KEUN (Republic of Korea) said that despite the significance of the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention, the threat of such weapons is no less serious today.  The issue of Syrian chemical weapons remains unaddressed five years after that country joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said, voicing support for the fact‑finding mission there.  The Republic of Korea welcomes the Decision Addressing the Threat from Chemical Weapons Use adopted last June, he said, calling it an attribution mechanism that will deter potential perpetrators from using chemical weapons in the future.  The nexus between emerging technologies and potential weaponization requires close examination in order to keep the Biological Weapons Convention relevant, he continued, noting the successful outcome of the 2017 Meeting of States Parties on that topic.

ANDREY BELOUSOV (Russian Federation) rejected attempts to amend any provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention on such a key issue as investigation into allegations of any use of biological weapons.  Article VI of the Convention clearly defines the key role of the Security Council in initiating and conducting such investigations.  “There are no other options,” he said, adding that “the attempts to undermine the convention regime by trying to project the sad and condemnable ‘experience’ of politically motivated investigations of chemical weapons use in Syria will be doomed to fail”.  He said his country signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993 and completed the elimination of stockpiles ahead of schedule.  He urged other States, in particular the United States, that initiated the process of chemical disarmament, to follow the example of his country to complete the process of chemical demilitarization as soon as possible.

ARIEL RODELAS PENARANDA (Philippines), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed support for an inter‑sessional process for the Biological Weapons Convention and greater synergies among international organizations in that context.  Biosecurity and biosafety are cross‑cutting issues requiring a holistic and coordinated response.  The Convention’s implementation can contribute to attaining the 2030 Goals and aligns with the Secretary‑General’s call for a new disarmament agenda linking it with development.  Recognizing the work of the Implementation Support Unit, he highlighted the importance of all States settling their assessed contributions, emphasizing the value of the sponsorship programme in facilitating the participation of capital‑based experts in Convention meetings.  Moreover, the Netherlands hosts the European Union chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence risk mitigation centres of excellence, demonstrating its seriousness in that regard.

SEYED ALI ROBATJAZI (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said Iran had experienced the tragic effects of the use of chemical weapons in the 1980s, “when Saddam [Hussein]’s regime, with the material and intelligence support of the United States, attacked Iranian civilians.”  Those tragic events inspired the conclusion of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which the United States is the only possessor State Party that has not completed the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile.  Voicing concern over the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in Syria, he said those groups could not procure or produce such arms without external assistance and support.  Global eradication of chemical weapons relies on the Convention’s universality, he said.  Turning to the Biological Weapons Convention, he said the best way to strengthen that instrument is through resumed negotiations on a legally binding protocol and he called on the United States to withdraw its objection to such talks.  Israel’s continued non‑adherence to the Biological Weapons Convention is a major obstacle to its universality.

AUDRA PLEPYTĖ (Lithuania) said all alleged chemical attacks must be thoroughly investigated, and perpetrators must be held accountable.  Lithuania supports the assessment of the authorities of the United Kingdom that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible for the use of a nerve agent in Salisbury.  Meanwhile, she expressed regret that the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism was blocked in the Security Council by several vetoes of the Russian Federation.  Any attempts to discredit or undermine the work and authority of OPCW or its experts, including by a cyberattack, are unacceptable, she said.  She welcomed the June decision to enhance the Organisation’s capacity to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons, as well as the European Union’s new regime of restrictive measures to address their use and proliferation.

ELISABETH TICHY-FISSLBERGER (Austria) said the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Malaysia and the United Kingdom is unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest terms.  She welcomed the June decision on OPCW, especially as the Joint Investigative Mechanism could not continue its work.  Turning to the Biological Weapons Convention, she welcomed the establishment of a meeting of experts as an important contribution to the effectiveness of the Convention.  Nevertheless, her Government is concerned about the development and modernization of delivery systems related to weapons of mass destruction, and in particular, the ballistic missile programmes of several States.  She went on to encourage States to join The Hague Code of Conduct, an important multilateral transparency and confidence‑building instrument.

SACHI CLARINGBOULD (Netherlands) recalled that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague was targeted in April by a hostile cyberoperation, an aggressive act of contempt for the solemn purpose of that body.  On Syria, she said critical work remains to be done, especially because there have been numerous chemical weapons attacks.  Four such attacks have been attributed to the Syrian regime, which means that regime is still withholding and hiding chemical weapons, she observed.  The Netherlands is working with the European Union to strengthen sanctions against Syria to curb its criminal behaviour.  Regarding the March attack in Salisbury, she agreed with the United Kingdom’s assessment that the Russian Federation is likely responsible, noting that the Netherlands is co‑sponsoring a proposal to include the chemical agent used in Salisbury on the Chemical Weapons Convention Schedule 1 list.

YANN HWANG (France) recalled the founding of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons in January 2018, saying its purpose is to strengthen cooperation to protect the Chemical Weapons Convention. Welcoming the June decision of the Conference of the States Parties decision that addresses the direct threats to the object and purpose of that Convention, he noted the provisions that provide for assistance to States Parties in implementing their obligations under the Convention and enhancing chemical security.  Citing findings from multiple fact‑finding missions, he said it is highly likely that the Syrian armed forces were responsible for the chemical weapons attack in Douma in April 2018 and urged Syria to honour its obligations as a State Party to the Convention.  Also condemning the use of nerve agents in the United Kingdom in March 2018, he said her delegation agrees with the United Kingdom’s analysis that the Russian Federation was likely responsible for the attack.  He also condemned the use of false and fabricated news stories designed to create misinformation about chemical weapons and the attempted cyberattack on the headquarters of OPCW.

Conventional Weapons

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTH (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, said it continues to affirm the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms and relevant parts, components and ammunition for their self‑defence and security needs.  The Movement remains deeply concerned over a wide range of security, humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences arising from the illicit manufacture, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons, and calls on all States, particularly major producing States, to ensure that the supply of these weapons is limited only to Governments or to entities duly authorized by them.

The Movement also calls for providing the necessary financial, technical and humanitarian assistance to unexploded cluster munitions clearance operations.  Similarly, landmine clearance operations need such support, she said.  Turning to the Arms Trade Treaty, the Movement calls for its balanced, transparent and objective implementation by States Parties in strict accordance with the inherent right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms and their parts and components for their self‑defence and security needs.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation steadfastly denied accusations that his Government poisoned the Skripals in Salisbury.  While the Russian Federation has never produced Novichok, many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries have the technology to produce such substances.  The United Kingdom went to OPCW to strengthen its accusations against his country.  Nevertheless, the international community must thoroughly look at the production of new types of substances.  In that regard, the Russian Federation gave the Technical Secretariat a 300‑page document outlining thousands of new compounds to be put on the Organisation’s list.  Since the start of the investigation, no proof of any kind has been provided that the Russian Federation participated in the poisoning.  Everything is based on conjecture, which would be insufficient for any legal system, he said.  Moreover, it is obvious that the wording “highly likely” is being used for political purposes when concrete facts have not been possible.  It contributes nothing toward an objective, multilateral investigation, and allows the perpetrators to go unpunished.  The Russian Federation condemns the use of chemical substances as a weapon and calls for an objective, unbiased and comprehensive investigation into any chemical weapon incident under all related Conventions.  His Government is prepared to conduct bilateral consultations based on the provisions of the Organisation, consular law and the European Convention on Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters.  Indeed, his Government has been seeking the cooperation of the United Kingdom for the past six months to no avail.

The representative of Syria said his delegation categorically denies allegations regarding the use of chemical weapons against its civilians, as the Syrian army does not have these substances.  However, the United States, United Kingdom and France are supporting armed terrorist groups by supplying them with such weapons.  Some delegations still cite the report of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, a body controlled by these States, which sponsor terrorism and politicized OPCW to produce the June decision enhancing its mandate to attribute responsibility for the use of chemical weapons.  This decision runs counter to the Chemical Weapons Convention and is not legitimate, as it was adopted by less than half of the States parties.  In addition, Turkey violated all international instruments on weapons of mass destruction by spreading these armaments, testing chemical weapons and transferring toxic materials to terrorists in Syria.  Meanwhile, the Netherlands transferred toxic chemicals to Israel and other States under its military programme and supported several terrorist groups in Syria, the United Kingdom pressured the “white helmets” to stage “a chemical show” and France supplied terrorists in Syria with weapons and munitions.

The representative of the United States said the implication that his country was responsible for [former President of Iraq] Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against Iran is laughable.  On other matters, he said the destruction of the United States chemical weapon stockpile is on schedule to be completed in 2023.  Turning to the Biological Weapons Convention, he said Iran is an outlier, blocking progress on establishing a verification protocol.  Iran also provides support to countries that use chemical weapons and supports terrorism.  Indeed, it hid its nuclear weapons programme in the past, has taken United States citizens hostage and detains foreigners without charges.  The regime cannot be trusted or believed and is far from the peace‑loving country it claims to be.  Condemning the Syrian “propaganda machine”, he said all countries know it is responsible for carrying out chemical weapon attacks against its own people.  The Syrian regime has very few defenders, highlighting the importance of seeing who these defenders are.

The representative of Israel said her country is a signatory of both the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Geneva protocol.  Moreover, Israel has a robust export control mechanism that embodies the norms of the Convention.

The representative of Iran said several Western countries raised concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile programmes and claimed they are inconsistent with Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).  His Government’s defensive posture stems from geostrategic calculations, moral convictions and on historical experience, given Iraq’s aggression on Iran using chemical weapons with the help of other countries, including the United States.  Iran has also dealt with threats from the United States and its outdated mantra of “all options are on the table”, he said.  Certain countries have also been calling on the United States to attack Iran and Israel has threatened his country with nuclear annihilation.  Consequently, Iran has learned its lessons about how to defend itself in a volatile region, having developed its own indigenous missile defence system, an inherent right under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.  This programme is for defensive purposes and an effective means to guard against foreign threats, and the system’s only use was a limited action against terrorists for crimes committed against Iran.  Resolution 2231 (2015) calls upon Iran to refrain from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons, but none of the missiles have been designed for such a capability and thus these activities comply with the resolution’s provisions.

The representative of the United Kingdom rejected baseless statements made by the representatives of the Russian Federation and Syria, saying his delegation will not listen to lectures from these States.  Syria and the Russian Federation are desperate to deflect attention from their use of chemical weapons because “they have been caught”, he said, adding that no one should be fooled by their remarks.  Syria used chemical weapons against its own people and the Russian Federation used them in the United Kingdom.

Outer Space

BASSEM YEHIA HASSAN KASSEM HASSAN (Egypt), associating himself with the Arab Group, African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said outer space is a shared heritage owned equally by all the peoples of the world and a common asset for humanity.  “Taking into consideration the extreme fragility and volatility of the outer space environment, it must not be allowed to turn into another battlefield or a scene for military conflicts that could have catastrophic implications,” he said.  There is a clear need for a legally binding instrument that would prevent an arms race and fill the existing legal gaps, especially considering alarming announcements by some States in relation to their plans of weaponizing outer space and the continued development of military capabilities devoted to attack outer space assets.  Such an instrument should have a comprehensive scope that includes four prohibitions:  the placement of any weapons, defensive or offensive; armed attacks against satellites or any outer space assets; intentional, harmful interference that interrupts the normal functioning of such assets; and developing, testing and stockpiling weapons designed to attack outer space assets.

YAILIAN CASTRO LOREDO (Cuba) said all States have an inalienable right to access outer space.  Equal access to related technologies would help Member States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, mitigate natural disasters and protect human health.  In this vein, she expressed concern about the threat of an arms race, the upgrading of space weapons and the celestial presence of weapons.  At the same time, she condemned the heavy network of spy satellites that saturate geostationary orbits and create space waste.  Calling for a multilateral treaty to prohibit the placement of weapons in outer space, she expressed support for the Chinese-Russian draft treaty as a welcome first step.

SHUAIB MAHOMED (South Africa) said his Government is concerned about developments that could prompt an arms race in space and its weaponization.  While its exploration can help to tackle global challenges, space science will also play a key role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  The international community has a responsibility to prevent outer space from becoming a new arena for weapons placement.  The only way to promote orderly, safe and secure activities is through international cooperation and dialogue, with all States participating on an equal basis.  While South Africa supports the Chinese-Russian draft treaty, it is highly unlikely such an agreement can be reached through the Conference on Disarmament in the near future.  Therefore, other avenues, such as the General Assembly, should be explored.

ENRIQUE CARILLO GOMEZ (Paraguay) highlighted the importance of concrete proposals for transparency and confidence-building measures through the Conference on Disarmament.  For its part, Paraguay has been actively exploring the use of outer space for peaceful purposes to ensure that it can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and tackle climate change consequences.  Moreover, his Government has requested accession to the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.  Every country must contribute to outer space activities for the benefit of all.  Member States must also strengthen international cooperation to afford developing countries the opportunity to explore outer space and apply related technologies.

ASSYLBEK TAUASSAROV (Kazakhstan) expressed full endorsement of the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, introduced by China and the Russian Federation at the Conference on Disarmament in 2008 and 2014.  Kazakhstan supports the establishment of a new expert group intended to further elaborate legally binding measures to prevent such an arms race.  The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation is an important part of the non-proliferation regime, he said, underlining that the spread of sensitive missile technology constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the African States, said the world has now become dependent on space technology.  Because outer space is a common heritage for humankind, it must be free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.  It must be used only for peaceful purposes, abiding by the five United Nations treaties on this issue.  There is an urgent need for a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space.  In this regard, African States welcome the formation of the Group of Governmental Experts and looks forward to its successful work so negotiations on such a treaty can begin.  He called for the Conference on Disarmament to break its impasse without further delay.  Raising other concerns, he said addressing the issue of space debris should not undermine the rights of African States to use outer space for peaceful programmes, adding that all States should have equal access.

LOK BAHADUR POUDEL CHHETRI (Nepal) said all countries should be given equal opportunities to access space technology, including least developed countries and landlocked developing countries, which have yet to benefit from these remarkable achievements.  Concerning the prevention of an arms race in outer space, he welcomed the commencement of work by the Group of Governmental Experts tasked with considering and making recommendations on elements on a legally binding instrument.  Transparency and confidence-building measures can help to prevent an arms race in outer space and ensure the sustainability of outer space activities.  However, such measures should not hamper the lawful use of outer space, especially by the “latecomers”, he said.

YANN HWANG (France) highlighted several challenges in outer space, including traffic management.  With an estimated 7,000 new satellites expected to orbit the planet in the next decade, space traffic management is a crucial issue.  Moreover, a great volume of debris is currently in low orbit travelling at high speeds.  However, space is subjected to little regulation.  Because of its incredible potential and the conflicting positions it arouses, space has become a genuine security issue and an element of strategic stability.  States must affirm their desire to address these issues through cooperation and by promoting a vision of power regulated by law based on the United Nations Charter.

MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), emphasizing a crucial need to ensure security transparency and confidence, said his Government aspires to use outer space to meet its development needs.  Because outer space must be used only for peaceful uses, the international community must step up cooperation, as its militarization is now a source of serious concern.  Placement of anti-missile defence systems in outer space is unacceptable.  There is a need for States to pool efforts to close legal gaps, he said, also lending support for the draft resolutions on the “no first placement of weapons” in outer space and on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities.  Welcoming the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on negotiating a treaty, he said voluntary measures are optional, but not a replacement for legally binding ones.

USMAN JADOON (Pakistan) said dependence on outer space applications is on the rise, as is the threat of weaponization.  Universal and equitable solutions are needed before space becomes a realm of conflict.  While guidelines on the prevention of an arms race in outer space prohibits the placement of weapons there, silence persists on ballistic systems and other assets.  At the same time, the Chinese‑Russian draft treaty provides a concrete basis for substantive negotiations and would end the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament.  Valuable informal discussions on preventing a celestial arms race, in subsidiary bodies of the Conference on Disarmament and in the Group of Governmental Experts, demonstrate that differing positions can be resolved.  Concerning transparency and confidence‑building measures, Pakistan’s voluntary measures are not a replacement for legally binding instruments, including a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

ROLLIANSYAH SOEMIRAT (Indonesia) expressed concern about the increasing threats to peace and security in outer space and the inadequacy of existing instruments in mitigating its militarization and weaponization.  While bilateral arms limitations, codes of conduct and voluntary mechanisms are important, they are not a replacement for a universal, legally binding instrument.  Given the disarmament stalemate and current international security environment, the issue of preventing a celestial arms race requires urgent attention, he said, calling on the Conference on Disarmament to begin negotiations on the issue without delay and urging countries not to undertake any activities that could jeopardize the common goal of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes.

HENRY SUAREZ (Venezuela) said shaping policy through a military approach is unacceptable as it undermines international peace and security while challenging multilateralism.  Outer space is a common heritage for mankind and therefore equal and balanced access to it must be ensured.  States shoulder shared but differentiated responsibilities, as not all countries are capable of placing defensive and offensive military systems in outer space.  There is a need to step up cooperation in the transfer of technology to use outer space for peace and development.  In this vein, he favoured strengthening international space law and developing a new legal instrument to complement the current regime.  Venezuela supports the Chinese‑Russian draft treaty and initiatives to implement confidence‑building measures, he said, reiterating that unilateral action undermines multilateralism.

VANESSA WOOD (Australia) said her country’s space agency is the primary source of advice to the Government on related civil policies and will continue to drive further innovation across the economy.  “Space is democratizing and the barriers to accessing space are tumbling as the sector is disrupted by technology that is far cheaper to build, launch and maintain,” she said.  Unfortunately, more space activity means more debris, which in turn will increase costs for commercial and civil activities.  Space debris also makes managing orbital traffic more challenging.  Space‑faring nations grapple with the question of whether existing frameworks are adequate, especially as security considerations evolve.  China and the Russian Federation have, for many years, promoted a draft treaty, while the latter is also promoting a “no first placement of weapons” in outer space initiative, where countries pledge not to be the first to do so.  While Australia supports initiatives that prevent an arms race, it does not support either of these initiatives.  Both would provide limited comfort and could have counterproductive consequences by allowing an unfettered development of terrestrial and dual‑use counter‑space systems.  The proposed definition of a space weapon is unworkable and fails to address the problem of terrestrial, dual‑use threats and the stockpiling of deployable weapons.  Both initiatives also fail to provide a verification mechanism to determine whether or not weapons have been developed to be placed in space.  “Our view is that our efforts are better focused on limiting bad behaviour in space,” she added.

FAISAL IBRAHIM (Nigeria) said outer space must continue to be safeguarded as the common heritage of humankind, especially since related technologies have produced a range of innovations.  At the same time, its exploration should be carried out for the benefit of all countries.  Preventing an arms race carries urgency due to concerns that existing instruments are insufficient to prevent the weaponization of outer space.  In this regard, he called for a legally binding instrument and welcomed the work of the Group of Governmental Experts.  Those with major space‑faring capabilities have a special responsibility and should refrain from activities that undermine current agreements.  For its part, Nigeria has growing space science capabilities for development purposes.

LEI LEI SEIN (Myanmar) said the growth in human space activities, the diversity of actors operating in that arena and Member States’ increasing dependence on space for civilian purposes can all lead to a conflict over scarce resources.  She called for space exploration that benefits all countries and for the international community to address growing concerns, while complying strictly with existing legal frameworks.  Voluntary measures are not a substitute for legally binding instruments.  In this vein, she called on the Conference on Disarmament to start negotiations on a draft treaty on the prevention of an arms race and for all States to work together to keep outer space safe and secure.

GIANFRANCO INCARNATO (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said satellite systems are essential for monitoring land, maritime and air security and in addressing critical issues, such as natural disaster management.  A comprehensive and effective international regulatory environment should be established to address the increasing number of objects in space and a growing reliance on space‑related resources, infrastructures and activities.  A comprehensive voluntary instrument covering substantive aspects of safety, security and sustainability of outer space activities would contribute to globally shared principles of responsible behavior.  These include non‑interference in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, prevention and mitigation of the creation of debris and the preservation of the integrity of the space environment.  Implementing transparency and confidence‑building measures are crucial steps towards achieving greater safety, security and sustainability of space activities.

LI SUI (China) said his country has always been against the weaponization of an arms race in outer space, having jointly submitted related United Nations resolutions for many years.  China and the Russian Federation jointly submitted, in 2008 and 2014, a draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects to the Conference on Disarmament, which remains the most appropriate venue for the negotiation of an international legally binding instrument.  The Group of Governmental Experts is supportive and complementary to the work of the Conference on Disarmament, he said, expressing hope that the Group will be able to fulfil its mandate, conclude a report by consensus and make recommendations on the elements of a future legally binding instrument.

Mr. LIDDLE (United Kingdom), associating with the European Union, said that while his country does not rule out the possibility of agreeing to a legally binding treaty on outer space in the future, serious political, technological and practical challenges must be resolved before negotiations can begin.  Any new and binding instrument would need to be comprehensive, effective and verifiable.  The international community needs to reach a common understanding of what is meant by a space weapon, as any object with manoeuvring capabilities can in theory be used for offensive purposes.  Verification would have to be a key part of any new instrument and trust between States would require arrangements to monitor and maintain compliance.  Clarifying acceptable and unacceptable behaviour would be important and the international community must consider on‑Earth technologies that can affect satellites and the question of the attribution of attacks.

LEE JANG-KEUN (Republic of Korea) said the development of space technologies and increase in number of space actors has made everyday socioeconomic life more dependent on related activities than ever before.  Risks and challenges related to the safety, security and sustainability of outer space, including debris, potential collision of objects and irresponsible behaviour, have proportionately increased.  Regarding comments that the development of norms has been too slow to reflect contemporary realities, he said existing outer space treaties provide an effective common ground in preventing an arms race.  In joint efforts for the peaceful use of outer space, priority should be given to current transparency and confidence‑building measures, which encourage responsible actions in outer space and are indispensable in addressing concerns for security and sustainability.

ANDREY BELOUSOV (Russian Federation) outlined a number of obstacles to negotiations on a draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, proposed jointly by his country and China.  The Conference on Disarmament has been deadlocked for the past two decades and negotiators in Vienna failed to reach agreement on key aspects of the safety of space operations.  However, the first session of the Group of Governmental Experts held in August gives hope that it will be in a position to prepare recommendations.  Meanwhile, consensus seems to have formed within the international community on transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space activities.  The work on guidelines for the long‑term sustainability of outer space activities was a good opportunity; however, it turned out be impossible to elaborate on the issue.  The trend of the United States to toughen its national regulation of military aspects of space activities stands in contrast to positive developments and its radical concept of self‑defence is furthered by a rigid regulation of the country’s operational activities in outer space.  Meanwhile, the United States is imposing on the international community a view that outer space has become a contested environment.  He drew attention to the fact that United States operational documents regulating space operations and special military directives have been preparing for the use of pre-emptive measures in outer space on the basis of subjective assessments.  If such a trend continues, the work on all negotiation tracks pertaining to outer space will end up with no results.

KAZUHIRO NAKAI (Japan) expressed support for the idea of preventing an arms race in outer space, having participated in substantive discussions, including with the Group of Governmental Experts meeting in 2018.  Transparency and confidence‑building measures could play an important role in building mutual trust among space actors.  However, space debris is a real threat to any entity conducting activities in that sphere.  Likewise, damaging behaviour, such as anti‑satellite attacks that generate a large amount of debris, is of great concern to the international community.  Japan is seriously concerned about the actual, not abstract, development and deployment of anti‑satellite weapons capabilities, including terrestrially based ones.  To deal with the problems of debris, Japan will continue to intensify efforts in the field of space situational awareness and in developing related removal technology.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said outer space belongs to all the people of the world and using it for military purposes destabilizes global security landscape.  Therefore, the international community must keep that sphere free of conflict and prevent it from becoming another arena for competition.  Use of outer space can bring out social benefits and contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Existing legal regimes have limitations and the Conference on Disarmament has a central role in this field as the sole multilateral treaty negotiating body.  As such, his delegation, together with Egypt, tabled a draft resolution on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, he said, calling for support from all States.

PULE DIAMONDS (Namibia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, supported the space policy adopted by the African Union.  The threat of warfare in outer space is no longer science fiction.  Inequitable use of outer space can expand the divide between developed and developing countries.  Although African States seek to silence the guns, existing security instruments have limitations.  There is a need for more multilateral regimes.  Highlighting the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on transparency and confidence‑building measures, he said Namibia supports further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race, emphasizing that for his country and for the continent, the use of outer space is important in helping to meet their development needs.

SEYED ALI ROBATJAZI (Iran) expressed concern about the space policies of the United States, which threaten the sustainability of a peaceful environment and risk triggering a destructive arms competition in that realm.  He provided examples of the country’s irresponsible space policy and behaviour that violate principles of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, calling on the international community to prevent such a rogue State from putting into action its intention to turn space into a battlefield.  Additional international legal provisions are needed to prohibit the weaponization of outer space, protect satellites and prevent the deployment of related weapons.  Iran supports efforts and proposals within the Conference on Disarmament for the prevention of the weaponization of outer space.  At the same time, it rejects any attempt aimed at manipulating space technology into a monopoly governed by a few countries or at imposing restrictions on the transfer of space‑related science, technology and services to developing countries.

MUHAMMAD SHAHRUL IKRAM (Malaysia), associating himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the international community’s use and exploration of outer space must be exclusively peaceful.  Underscoring his country’s unwavering support for multilateral collaboration through the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, he said Organization‑led forums remain vital in forging the convergence of interests and developing common perspectives in this evolving area.  Recognizing that governmental engagement alone is insufficient, he underscored a need for broader consultation with private entities, researchers and civil society organizations.

LOT THAUZENI PANSIPADANA DZONZI (Malawi) said his country has a clear interest in working with international partners to promote the responsible use of outer space.  Related technology holds immense potential and remains pivotal to the 2030 Agenda.  Malawi relies on assured access to space‑based systems to support its economic prosperity and maintain public safety.  Additionally, space technologies are becoming increasingly vital to water resource management and climate change.  For instance, Earth observation satellites were invaluable to Malawi in 2015, when it experienced the worst flood.  At the time, the United Nations activated mechanisms to download satellite images of flood‑affected areas for use in preparing evacuation routes.  He called for more international cooperation and capacity‑building for developing countries in using space science and technology.  As an agricultural‑dependent country, Malawi has also benefited greatly from technical support and training on space technology and interpreting satellite data.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the socioeconomic benefits derived from the use of outer space have raised his country’s stake in undertaking such activities.  The benefits should be shared by all countries, as outer space is a province for all.  Flagging his delegation’s support for efforts to prevent an arms race in outer space, he said Bangladesh is co‑sponsoring a draft resolution on the issue.  The Group of Governmental Experts must maintain an equitable geographical representation.  Bangladesh placed its communication satellite in space in 2018, but the traffic congestion in outer space is a source of concern.  There is a need for a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space.  Warning against the placement of anti‑ballistic missile systems in this sphere, his country supports the principle of no first placement of weapons in outer space.  In addition, any codification for outer space must be inclusive and comprehensive.

DIEGO ALONSO TITUAÑA MATANGO (Ecuador) condemned anti‑satellite testing and the development of weapons for placement in outer space.  Ecuador endorses international instruments that would eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.  He called for a legally binding instrument that preserves the peaceful nature of outer space and promotes confidence‑building measures.  Urging Member States to prevent the placement of weapons in this sphere, its weaponization or the creation of “space forces”, he said outer space cannot be considered a new arena for war.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, emphasized a need for transparency in outer space activities, saying States can agree to make known their launching sites for sending objects into space or for directing energy at objects and locations there.  The presence of other nationalities at launch facilities can also build confidence among States about the peaceful nature of their activities.  States can announce the payloads their launchers are carrying, which can be inspected prior to their launch.  Attention should also be given to activities in the fields of ballistic missiles and ballistic missile defence systems.  An agreement stipulating that testing will not be carried out against objects in space would be another important confidence‑building measure.

Conventional Weapons

MARWAN ALI NOMAN  (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States and associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the Non‑Aligned Movement, addressed the issue of the prevalence of small arms and light weapons.  Some States are providing these to terrorists to ensure the persistence of armed conflict, which runs counter to the core principles of international law.  The Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects plays a critical role in ensuring trust among States, but must protect the right of States to defend themselves.  He thereby rejects any imposition of non‑consensual or non‑universal measures, highlighting the importance of greater international cooperation, including capacity‑building of States for border security, without imposing on State sovereignty.  International parties must also counter illicit trafficking in conventional weapons, he said, spotlighting a need to bridge gaps hindering United Nations efforts in this domain.

DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the Non‑Aligned Movement, recognized the consequences of the indiscriminate use of conventional weapons, their harm to civilians and diverse impact on women and children.  He welcomed disarmament efforts to mitigate the humanitarian impact and consequences of the illicit arms trade.  Citing initiatives including the Convention on Cluster Munitions, he called for fully implementing international instruments and for strengthening the role of disarmament mechanisms.  While States parties must enhance conventional weapons control, he reaffirmed the sovereign right of States to manufacture, import and possess weapons for self‑defence.  Affirming a commitment to international human law and deploring the use of any explosive device to harm or terrorize citizens, he said such weapons disproportionately affect ASEAN Member States.  He therefore welcomes assistance, particularly from developed countries, in providing financial, technical and humanitarian assistance in removing unexploded ordnance and in helping victims.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the United States repertoire on the issue has become obsolete.  Efforts to discredit the Russian‑Chinese proposal reflect how important and timely they are.  The non‑first placement of weapons in outer space is an important political factor and a source of irritation for Washington, D.C.  The implications to the United States stemming from the proposed treaty’s adoption run counter to the country’s desire to have a full range of movement in outer space and dominate that arena.  About concerns over the purpose of Russian satellites, he said they regularly conduct manoeuvres to adjust orbits or avoid dangerous collisions with other space objects.  The United States is registering its satellites as meteorological or communications‑related, which gives rise to questions about their genuine purpose.  These satellites, or at least part of them, are intended to carry out forcible strikes on other States’ space objects.  Moreover, the United States is ramping up its anti‑satellite capacity, he said, adding that missiles intended to intercept ballistic rockets can also destroy satellites.  The United States has the capacity to make its anti‑ballistic missiles systems multifunctional.  Because of the United States activities, it seems inevitable that by 2030, weapons will be placed in outer space, despite efforts led by the Russian Federation and other nations.  He condemned attempts by the United States to force other States to base their space programmes on United States law.  Space must be governed on a multilateral basis in the interest of all States.

The representative of Syria said the representative of the United Kingdom should allow States to exercise their right to self‑determination instead of “poking their noses” in other people’s affairs.  The United Kingdom is in violation of article 9 of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which calls on States to engage in dialogue and cooperation, yet it refuses to cooperate with the Russian Federation.  What happened in Salisbury confirms that the United Kingdom and the United States have the intention of developing chemical weapons.  Otherwise, it is difficult to justify their non‑response to OPCW requests.  The United Kingdom, which has staged a series of events in Syria, is hiding its own non‑compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Meanwhile, the United States has furnished terrorist groups with chemical weapons, including those wearing white helmets.  He then asked France’s delegate to examine the Convention’s provisions.  Any attempts by the French delegation to convince others of the innocence of France in the financing of terrorists will be in vain.  Indeed, France has deployed its intelligence and expertise to terrorist groups and supplied them with chemical weapons.  At the same time, the Turkish regime is facilitating the transfer of chemical weapons to Syrian territory and helping to train terrorists on its soil.  With the cooperation of the United States, France and the United Kingdom, it supports Nusrah Front, which has cooperated with the white helmets to transfer substances to other regions.

The representative of the United States said the Chinese‑Russian draft is fundamentally flawed, inequitable, inadequately verifiable and not in the interest of his country.  The Russian Federation has been aggressive in space initiatives and countries have become wise to its intent.  The Russian Federation’s pronouncements run counter to the goals of the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, he said, adding that the country is preparing to fight a war in outer space, while promoting a flawed treaty that runs counter to Russian policies.  It is suspicious that the draft treaty does not include anti‑satellite technology.  The United States will be prepared to confront any challenges in outer space that arise.  The draft treaty is losing steam and the drafters need to “go back to the drawing board”.  Meanwhile, he said his Syrian counterpart continues to fabricate charges against the United States and others, but will never be able to convince the international community of its innocence of crimes, including using chemical weapons against its own people.  The Syrian regime and its collaborators will be held accountable for those crimes.

The representative of the United Kingdom said his counterpart from Syria was throwing around random accusations unrelated to the matter at hand and that Syria has used chemical weapons against its own people and is in breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The representative of France said remarks by Syria’s delegate are grotesque and distorted and fool no one.

The representative of Syria responded by asking States attached to the United Nations Charter why his country would use a prohibited weapon it does not possess.  Asking why these States cooperate with terrorist groups and the white helmets, he said “British intelligence” set up the white helmets terrorist organization and is using them to stage events.  The Government of Syria has recordings proving the United Kingdom’s role in staging events involving chemical weapons.  The United States Administration is responsible for financing and sponsoring groups including Al-Qaida in the 1980s and Nusrah Front, he said, adding that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that Washington, D.C., used these terrorist organizations as part of its foreign policy.  Telling the French representative that his country was involved in chemical attacks in Syria, he added that the “illegitimate international coalition” has used white phosphorus against Syrian civilians.

For information media. Not an official record.