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    Russia calls for reinvigorated efforts against space warfare

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    Geneva, June 30 (RIA Novosti, Yekaterina Andrianova) - Russia would like the United Nations to make reinvigorated efforts to prevent a space arms race, a Russian envoy to the UN said Thursday. Addressing a UN Disarmament Conference session, Leonid Skotnikov, Russia's permanent representative to the UN Offices in Geneva, called for the reinstatement of the UN Committee for Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space, whose operations were suspended in 1994.

    Russia and China have long been pushing for the adoption, within the UN Disarmament Conference, of an international, legally binding treaty prohibiting the deployment of weapons in space, Skotnikov said. He said Russia was willing to compromise and that it would not object to the UN establishing an ad hoc committee with a non-negotiating mandate. As a basis for its work, this committee could use the proposals put forward by the Russians and the Chinese to close the loopholes in international arms control treaties, the diplomat suggested. The existing agreements ban neither the construction and deployment of anti-satellite weapons, nor the development of space-based anti-missile systems.

    Skotnikov reaffirmed that Russia had no intention of deploying weapons in outer space without provocation. He said space was arms-free now, but warned that this may be about to change, as the United States was set to build a national anti-missile defense shield. President George W. Bush started the program to build the shield in 2001; it envisages the use of a range of anti-missile weapons, including space-based ones.

    In 2002, Russia and China proposed that the UN Disarmament Conference's 65 member states put together a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in space. But it is still unclear where the U.S. stands on this. Several years ago, White House officials said they did not recognize the militarization of space as an immediate danger and that it was premature to discuss the issue.

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