China and Russia on Tuesday submitted to a UN-sponsored disarmament conference a joint proposal for an international treaty to ban the deployment of weapons in outer space.
The draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT), was presented at a plenary session of the Conference on Disarmament, the world's sole multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations.
"The draft PPWT prohibits the deployment of weapons of any kind in space, and the use or threat of force against space objects," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the session, attended by representatives of its 65 members.
"The Treaty is to eliminate existing lacunas in international space law, create conditions for further exploration and use of space, preserve costly space property, and strengthen general security and arms control," he added.
Lavrov also urged member states of the Conference on Disarmament to take seriously the issue of preventing an arms race in outer space.
"It's time, by way of preempting, to start serious practical work in this field. Indeed, to prevent a threat is always easier than to remove it," he said.
In a message to the conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also stressed the importance of preventing an arms race in outer space and urged member states to seriously consider the Sino-Russian draft treaty.
Preventing an arms race and safeguard the peace and security of outer space is in the interest of all countries, said the message, which was read by Li Baodong, Chinese Ambassador to the UN Office in Geneva.
It's necessary for the international community to strengthen the existing space law and to work out a new legal document on this, Yang said in the message.
Yang also urged member states to start serious discussion on the draft treaty as soon as possible and try to reach agreement on it.
(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2008)