(Reissued as received.)
GENEVA, 24 February (UN Information Service) -- The Russian Federation and China this morning stressed the need to address the issue of the prevention of an arms race in outer space in the Conference on Disarmament and underlined the importance of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty).
Ambassador Vasily Sidorov of the Russian Federation said the prevention of an arms race, both in outer space and on earth, fully and completely depended on the viability of the 1972 ABM Treaty. He said the Russian Federation wanted to unambiguously state that it was not holding negotiations on adaptation of the ABM Treaty with the United States. This position, that was based on the supreme interests of strengthening peace and international stability, would not change.
Mr. Sidorov said the ABM Treaty was a factor of global significance which constituted the basis for strategic stability. He called for the re-establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on this issue in order to elaborate specific practical arrangements that would block turning the space around the Earth into a new arena for power confrontation.
Ambassador Hu Xiaodi of China said it was important that the United States stop seeking the amendment of the ABM Treaty, refrain from testing and deployment inconsistent with that Treaty, and never make the threat that the Treaty must be amended, otherwise a State party would withdraw from it. If a State party attempted to evade its Treaty obligations or even to tear up the Treaty, it would set a bad precedent in the field of multilateral arms control and disarmament. This would not only undermine global and regional strategic balance and stability, obstruct or even reverse the nuclear disarmament process, but would also open the door to the weaponization of outer space.
Mr. Hu said the Conference should take concrete measures without delay to prevent effectively the weaponization of outer space, prohibit the testing, deployment and use of any weapons systems and their components in outer space, stop any country from using outer space as a battlefield and prohibit the use of outer space to strike ground targets and seek strategic superiority on the ground.
The President of the Conference on Disarmament, Ambassador Iftekhar Chowdhury of Bangladesh, said the presidency of the Conference could be likened to the work of Sisyphus who was condemned forever to push a stone up a hill, only to see it roll back down just before he reached the top, then to have to start all over again. He noted that although progress in the work of the Conference appeared stalled for now, the Conference had notched up two creditable achievements: the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The Conference did not need to produce a treaty annually in order to be judged successful. This did not mean that he would not strive towards progress. Welcome ground work had been laid on issues and he intended to build on them.
Mr. Chowdhury noted that in the Conference, those who were militarily more powerful, particularly the nuclear Powers, undeniably had a greater responsibility. He was not urging them to make any undue sacrifices but was simply inviting them to engage themselves with all others in a serious dialogue, in a spirit of understanding and flexibility, for a common cause. The President said he had consulted with some and he would consult some more. He intended to make this presidency a collective endeavour. If there was a mechanism to try, he would try it, and if there was an effort to be made, he would make it. He would not relent.
The next plenary of the Conference on Disarmament will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 2 March 2000.
VASILY SIDOROV (Russian Federation) said the Conference was a kind of barometer in the field of international security. All discussions on priority areas of this unique multilateral negotiations forum were closely interconnected with the concrete political situation in the world. It was not surprising, therefore, that issues of prevention of an arms race in outer space had been voiced very often and persistently during the plenary sessions. There were more than 30 States that were involved in outer space activities, while many other countries were seeking to join this "space club".
Mr. Sidorov said that the issue of prevention of an arms race in outer space had been for many years, and remained to be, among the highest priorities for Russian diplomacy. It was well known that the world public was especially worried about the danger of turning the space around the world into a new arena of power confrontation. The real danger of a new turn of an arms race in outer space was connected, first of all, with ideas of deploying there weapons systems directly intended for destruction of space, air and ground targets.
Prevention of an arms race both in outer space and on earth fully and completely depended on the viability of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty), Mr. Sidorov said. It was well-known that this document prohibited the development, testing and deployment in outer space of ABM components. Thus, its regime permitted to prevent emergence of a whole class of space weapons, namely ABM weapons. The Russian Federation wanted to unambiguously state that it was not holding negotiations on adaptation of the ABM Treaty with the United States. This position, that was based on the supreme interests of strengthening peace and international stability, would not change. If the United States implemented its unilateral plans on a national missile defence system, the ABM Treaty would be destroyed. The structure of treaties and agreements in the field of nuclear disarmament would crumble along with it. Serious damage would be made to the whole disarmament process as well as to the regimes of non- proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, missiles and missile technologies. Extremely dangerous incentives for triggering an arms race in outer space would be created. The Russian Federation considered the ABM Treaty to be a factor of global significance which constituted the basis for strategic stability.
Mr. Sidorov said the Russian Federation was convinced that the Conference would play a leading role in the further work on military space subjects. Elaboration right new of specific measures to prevent an arms race in outer space would help to avoid the enormous expenditure which would be required to disarm it in the future. The Russian Federation believed that a speedy development of an international legal regime prohibiting deployment in outer space of weapons other than weapons of mass destruction, and, first and foremost the striking ones, should become one of the principal tasks of the international community. However, it also believed that the work of the Conference on outer space subject matters should not result in creating obstacles to peaceful exploration of outer space.
In conclusion, Mr. Sidorov sad that the Russian side supported the re- establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on this subject in order to elaborate specific practical arrangements that would block turning the space around the Earth into a new arena for power confrontation. The Russian Federation also expressed solidarity with its Chinese colleagues who also urged immediate re- establishment in the Conference of an appropriate Ad Hoc Committee on prevention of an arms race in outer space with a mandate to elaborate and conclude an arrangement on the prohibition of testing, deployment and use of weapons and weapon systems as well as their components in outer space to prevent weaponization of outer space.
HU XIAODI (China) said that at the last plenary, the distinguished Representative of the United States had made some remarks in a polemic tone of Cold War nature which was detrimental to the atmosphere of the Conference. This was most regrettable. The Representative had also made some groundless allegations and accusations against China which were totally rejected. Among other things, the distinguished United States Representative had mentioned that there was a broad understanding in the Conference that the two topics of nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space were not ripe for treaty negotiations in the Conference. The majority of the Member States of the Conference, including China, would not agree with this assertion. The current reality in the Conference was that only few countries, even only one country, insisted that the body was not ripe to negotiate on prevention of an arms race in outer space in the Conference, due to its own outer-space weapon development programme. It was the delegation of this country that vetoed year after year all the reasonable suggestions about carrying out substantive work with regard to the outer space issue.
Mr. Hu said the distinguished United States representative had said that the United States neither practised a double standard toward arms control agreements nor tried to weaken or abolish the ABM Treaty. This was most welcome if the words were really honoured by the deeds. What was more important was that the United States stop seeking the amendment of the ABM Treaty, refrain from testing and deployment inconsistent with that treaty, and never make the threat that the Treaty must be amended, otherwise a State party would withdraw from it. Mr. Hu said that he would like to emphasize that the Chinese delegation had all along participated in the work of the Conference in a positive, serious and responsible manner. It was not here to quarrel. It was the hope of the Chinese delegation that the Conference could reach agreement on a comprehensive, just and balanced work programme on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect.
The second subject of the statement was related to the issue of prevention of an arms race in outer space, Mr. Hu said. This issue was one of the most pressing and most prominent issues in the field of arms control and disarmament. In April 1998, a certain country had formulated a twenty-first century oriented long-range plan for space military strategies which according to the plan would become a major leverage in implementing national security and military strategies. It had put forward four operational concepts to ensure its superiority in space: control of space, global engagement, full force integration and global partnership. Building up its space force had become an important tool for it to achieve its strategic objectives.
Mr. Hu said that in recent years, the Strategic Defence Initiative had been quickly resurrected in a certain country. Not only was the Theatre Missile Defence system being developed, but the National Missile Defence system was being vigorously pursued as well. In 1999 alone, the said country had conducted several ballistic missile interception tests in outer space and was planning to carry out dozens more of such tests in the coming years. Both these systems were dependent on space systems for support and on advanced space weapons for intercepting missiles in space. The said country was seeking unilateral military and strategic superiority by whatever means available to it. This would definitely undermine global and regional peace, security and stability and disrupt strategic equilibrium. The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty prohibited States parties from developing, testing and deploying ABM systems or components that were space-based. If a State party attempted to evade its treaty obligations or even to tear up the Treaty, it would set a bad precedent in the field of multilateral arms control and disarmament. This would not only undermine global and regional strategic balance and stability, obstruct or even reverse the nuclear disarmament process, but would also open the door to the weaponization of outer space.
In conclusion, Mr. Hu said that the international community must act without any delay to keep the worst from happening. The Conference should, under prevention of an arms race in outer space and taking into account the latest movements concerning the development of relevant weapon systems, take concrete measures without delay to prevent effectively the weaponization of outer space, prohibit the testing deployment and use of any weapons systems and their components in outer space, stop any country from using outer space as a battlefield and prohibit the use of outer space to strike ground targets and seek strategic superiority on the ground. At the same time, countries with the greatest space capabilities should assume special responsibilities in preventing the weaponization of outer space, preventing an arms race in outer space and ensuring the use of outer space for peaceful purposes. At the same time, the countries concerned should undertake not to develop space weapons and anti- missile weapons and not to test, deploy and use any weapons, weapons systems and their components in outer space.