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Moscow to present Sino-Russian space arms race control initiative

By RIA Novosti

Moscow : Russia will submit to a UN disarmament conference a joint Sino-Russian proposal for an international treaty to ban the deployment of weapons in outer space.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will present the draft treaty to the UN-sponsored annual Geneva Disarmament Conference on February 12.

The United States has been critical of the Russian-Chinese initiative, especially following China’s anti-satellite missile tests last year.

Donald Mahley, acting U.S. deputy assistant secretary for threat reduction, export controls and negotiations, said: “We see nothing in the new proposal to change the current U.S. position.”

He said additional binding arms control agreements, “are simply not a viable tool for enhancing the long-term space security interests of the United States or its allies.”

Washington said that after China tested an anti-satellite missile in January 2007, the U.S. administration had intensified work on a program called Space Situational Awareness (SSA). The program has been defined as “knowing the location and potential function of every object orbiting the earth ? active or inactive ? regardless of its size, its purposes, its mission and its status.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last Friday that a new arms race had begun, but that Russia would not allow itself to be drawn into it.

Russia has also been unnerved by NATO’s ongoing expansion and Washington’s plans to deploy missile defense bases in Central Europe, which it says are needed to deter possible strikes from Iran and other “rogue states.”