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There should be no nuclear weapons stationed in space: UK statement at the UN Security Council

Thank you President, first allow me to extend our gratitude to Japan and to the US for their work on this important resolution.

The UK voted against the proposed amendment because this resolution is rightly focused on upholding the Outer Space Treaty – something the whole international community should agree on – and not on what further measures may be needed to prevent an arms race in outer space.

And anyway, the amendment offered only one perspective on that debate, a debate that is conducted elsewhere, not in this Council.

The UK believes that the best way to prevent an arms race in outer space is to elaborate norms, rules, and principles of responsible space behaviors, which could be composed of an appropriate mix of legally binding and non-legally binding measures.

The UK voted in favour of the resolution, and co-sponsored it, because we believe that the Security Council should send a clear message on the importance of upholding the Outer Space Treaty for international peace and security.

The UK is deeply concerned about the erosion of the global international security architecture. 

The Outer Space Treaty is part of that architecture, in particular its Article IV, which prohibits the placement of nuclear weapons in Earth’s orbit. It is vital that States’ space activities remain in compliance with the Outer Space Treaty and do not nudge competition into conflict, including nuclear conflict, or drive arms races, or further undermine global security norms.

 It remains the primary responsibility of the Nuclear Weapons States to avoid actions that increase the risk of nuclear conflict.

In that regard, this resolution rightly recalls the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States issued on 3 January 2022 on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races. It remains the UK’s view that nuclear weapons, for as long as they exist, should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression and prevent war and coercion.

To put it simply, there should be no nuclear weapons stationed in space, and that is something every Council Member should agree on.

It is therefore profoundly concerning that Russia chose to veto such a resolution, which would have upheld existing international law and sought to prevent an arms race in outer space.

Thank you.

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