Russia Evokes Suspicion After Veto of UN Resolution Against Nuclear Space Arms

The United States and Japan drafted a resolution reminding other nations of their commitment to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

Russia prevented a potential nuclear weapons race in space by vetoing a resolution that had been brought before the UN Security Council.

Moscow criticized the U.N. resolution as “a dirty spectacle” that singles out weapons of mass destruction while ignoring the dangers of a nuclear arms race in space. Japan and the United States sponsored the proposal. Russia rejected the resolution on Wednesday.

Of the fifteen members of the Security Council, thirteen were in favor, while two—Russia and China—were opposed.

The resolution would have urged all nations, including Russia and the United States, to adhere to a 1967 international convention that forbade the development or deployment of nuclear weapons or other WMD in space and to acknowledge the need for monitoring compliance.

Following the vote, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that Putin had stated that Russia had no plans to launch nuclear weapons into space. Following earlier this year’s allegations by U.S. officials that Moscow is building a new atomic weapon to destroy satellites, Russia has chosen to use its right to reject the measure.

Russia was the lone vote against the resolution, while China was the lone country that chose not to participate. Thirteen members voted in support.

The United States and Russia, along with all other parties to the treaty, are forbidden from deploying in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction or any other type of weapon into space.

According to Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood, the idea that Russia would not back the resolution makes you wonder whether they’re hiding something. 

Despite Putin’s denials, reports surfaced earlier this month that he had instructed his administration to set aside cash for developing “space nuclear energy” by June 15.