National Statement of Germany, delivered during the General Assembly debate following the use of the veto by the Russian Federation against the draft Outer Space Resolution, 6 May 2024

Veto Debate on draft outer space resolution

Veto Debate on draft outer space resolution, © GermanyUN

06.05.2024 - Speech

Statement delivered by Ambassador Leendertse, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations.

Thank you, Mr President.

Germany aligns itself with the statement of the European Union.

Germany deeply regrets the Russian veto against the draft outer space resolution on 24th of April. This resolution would have advanced a vital interest that unites all humankind: to prevent space from becoming a theater of war by reaffirming the Outer Space Treaty’s provision not to place any nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction in outer space. It would have called on all Member States not to develop nuclear weapons or any kinds of weapons of mass destruction specifically designed to be placed in outer space.

Why is Russia unable to support this resolution? Taken at face value, Russia’s vetoing of a resolution pursuing objectives of space security - that should be beyond all doubt – raises doubts if Russia is considering to include a nuclear device into its outer space program. Pursuing such plans is to expose all humankind to great risk. The potential blanket consequences of a nuclear explosion in the orbit on both civilian and military infrastructures on Earth would be devastating for all of us.

Mr President, Russia’s delusive proposal for an amendment on the outer space resolution was deliberately ignoring that no definition of “weapons in outer space” exists and thereby no international agreement around that concept is within reach. Almost any outer space object can have both a civilian and military use. This is why, building on the Outer Space Treaty, the focus on norms, rules and principles of responsible behavior is key when trying to elaborate the features of some sort of regime governing space security.

We therefore implore all Member States to be vigilant. Russia is systematically undermining the United Nations Charter, international law, and the existing arms control architecture. We see this reckless pattern in Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, which the General Assembly has firmly condemned. We see it in Russia’s irresponsible cyber attacks, like the one against Germany that we have attributed to Russia a few days ago. We see it in the Russia’s systematic destruction of the international arms control architecture: Russia has suspended the New START Treaty, it has withdrawn from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, it has de-ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty.

Mr President, it is just a few weeks ago that few weeks ago, Russia cast a veto against the extension of the Panel of Experts’ mandate for the DPRK sanctions committee, begging again the question: What is Russia hiding from the world? We all know that the panel was reporting on the unlawful arms transfers between the DPRK and Russia, in the context of the Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.

Dear colleagues, today’s debate is not technical. It is not about different opinions on how to strengthen the Outer Space Treaty. It is about something entirely different. Russia as a Permanent Member of the Security Council is playing with the hell-fire of nuclear destruction.

Our plea today is simple. We call on all Member States to fully comply with their obligations under the Outer Space Treaty and to seize the opportunity and achieve international commitment not to ever develop nuclear weapons or other WMD specifically designed to be placed in Outer Space. There is no justification to abdicate from these commitments and responsibilities.

Thank you.

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