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Agence France Presse

Russia, China Propose New Treaty to Ban Arms in Space


GENEVA - Russia and China have proposed a new treaty to ban the use of weapons in space, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a disarmament conference on Tuesday.0212 03

"Without preventing an arms race in space, international security will be wanting," Lavrov told the conference.

"The task of preventing an arms race in space is on the conference's agenda. It's time... to start serious practical work in this field," he said.

Concerns over a new arms race in space have been growing since China tested an anti-satellite missile last January, sparking a diplomatic outcry.

The United States also has its own anti-satellite programme ranging from laser cannon to satellite destroying missiles.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 bans the build up or stockage of military weapons -- including nuclear arms or weapons of mass destruction -- in orbit and their installation on the moon, but not the shooting down of satellites.

"Weapons deployment in space by one state will inevitably result in a chain reaction. And this, in turn, is fraught with a new spiral in the arms race both in space and on the earth," Lavrov said.

The Russian minister also reiterated his criticisms of the United States's plans for an anti-missile shield in Europe.

"We cannot but feel concerned over the situation where ... there are increasing efforts by the United States to deploy its global ABM (anti-ballistic missile) system," Lavrov said.

"The desire to acquire an anti-missile 'shield' while dismantling the 'sheath', where the nuclear 'sword' is kept is extremely dangerous," he added.

Washington is currently negotiating with Warsaw and Prague on the possible installation of 10 interceptor missile sites in Poland by 2012 and associated radar stations in the Czech Republic.

The US says the sites are neeed as part of a gradually-developing shield to ward off potential attacks by what it calls "rogue states," notably Iran.

© 2008 Agence France Presse

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