9 February 2005
Russian Federation Seeks Ban On Space-Based Weapons
By Geoff Fein
Defense Daily

Russia has no designs on placing weapons in space, and therefore sees no justification, by any country, of placing weapons in outer space, said a Russian Federation official at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Creation of outer space weapons is certainly not our choice," Ambassador Leonid Skotnikov of the Russian Federation said in a statement to the conference held last week. "If we manage to prevent placement of weapons in outer space, we shall be ale to direct progress in space science and technology into a constructive course for the benefits of all."

The conference must do more, however, to reach an agreement on the scope of its work, Skotnikov said. "We cannot sit idle," he said. For its part, the Russian Federation has launched a number of initiatives to scale down the threat. For example, Russia has proposed a moratorium on placing combat devices in space and is willing to undertake the obligation immediately, provided other space powers join, he added.

Russia has also begun providing advance information on scheduled launches, their predestination and the parameters of their orbits, Skotnikov said.

"Last year we stated that at the moment and for the near future, Russian Federation had no plans to create space weapon systems and place then in outer space," Skotnikov said. "At the same time, Russia consistently continues to comply with its moratorium on testing of anti-satellite systems."

And for the first time Russia has unilaterally and unconditionally declared it would not be the first to place weapons of any kind in outer space, Skotnikov explained. "We also called on all countries with a space potential to follow our example," he said.

Skotnikov defined space weapons as "systems or devices, based on physical principle, launched into orbit around the Earth or placed in the outer space by any other way, which are produced or converted to destroy, damage or disrupt normal functioning of objects in outer space, as well as targets on the surface of the Earth or in the air."

"It is exactly this kind of weapons that Russia has committed itself not to be the first to place in outer space," Skotnikov said.      However, Skotnikov acknowledged that his statement "does not imply a ban on military activities in outer space including those designed to perform information support functions" and "cause no harm to any outer space object, ballistic missiles passing through outer space; land-and air-based missile defense systems and space sensors; and anti-satellite systems, excluding space-based."

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