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Russia Warns of New Arms Race in Outer Space

Russia is warning of a new arms race if a treaty banning the deployment of weapons in outer space is not achieved. Russia and China have jointly presented a draft treaty to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament that would prohibit the deployment of weapons in space and the threat or use of force against satellites or other spacecraft. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

In presenting the draft treaty text to the 65-member U.N. Conference on Disarmament, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned there could be no international security without preventing an arms race in space.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said the world's military and political equilibrium would be endangered unless strategic stability is maintained.

"Apart from this, weapons deployment in space by one state will inevitably result in a chain reaction," Lavrov said. "And, this, in turn, means a new spiral in the arms race both in space and on the Earth... The task of preventing an arms race in space is on the Conference's agenda. And, we are convinced that it is time, by way of preemption to start serious practical work in this field. Otherwise, we may miss the opportunity. As you know, to prevent a threat is always easier than to remove it."

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 bans nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction from space. The United States opposes a new agreement that would place limits on its use of outer space.

Lavrov expressed his country's concern about Washington's increasing efforts to deploy an anti-missile defense shield in Europe.

The United States wants to place 10 interceptor missile sites in Poland by 2012 and radar stations in the Czech Republic. Washington says a shield is needed to ward off attacks by Iran and other so-called rogue states.

But during a news conference, the Russian foreign minister told journalists that Iran had no missiles and posed no threat. Lavrov said the U.S. plan posed big problems for Russia.

"The intercepting missiles which are to be stationed in Poland would be able, capable of threatening the Russian missile arsenal," Lavrov said. "When they tell us that it is not aimed against Russia, we are not guided by the intentions, but rather by facts, by capabilities."

Sergei Lavrov said the ABM or anti-ballistic-missile treaty concluded between the United States and Soviet Union succeeded in maintaining strategic stability by preventing an arms race in outer space.

He said Washington's decision to abandon the ABM treaty in 2000 was a mistake and has had a destabilizing effect in terms of military and political security.