US accuses Russia, China of undermining space peace push

19th March, 2019 10:11:41 printer

GENEVA: The US on Tuesday accused Russia and China of raising the risk of conflict in space, notably by developing anti-satellite weapons, as diplomats held talks on a treaty to keep space peaceful, reports AFP.

The closed-door negotiations in Geneva involving experts from 25 governments—including the US, China and Russia—are aimed at laying the groundwork for a legally-binding text to prevent an arms race in outer space.

Beijing and Moscow pushed for the discussions that run through March 28, which experts have said may show results despite the grim climate for disarmament diplomacy.

But addressing the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, US assistant secretary of state Yleem Poblete questioned whether China and Russia were sincerely committed to the talks.

“How can we believe (Russia is) serious about preventing an arms race in outer space when they are the ones that are developing ground-launched anti-satellite weapons?” Poblete asked.

She also accused Russia of trying to develop lasers that could “blind or damage satellites”.

Poblete, of the State Department’s arms control bureau, spoke as the US took over the rotating presidency at the Conference on Disarmament. The space peace talks are being held in a different venue in Geneva.

Turning to China, Poblete accused the country of developing a range of anti-satellite capabilities, including jammers and ground-based missiles intended to target “low-Earth-orbit satellites”.