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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia and China Seek Ban on Arms in Space

GENEVA -- In a challenge to Bush administration plans for a missile defense shield, China and Russia on Thursday submitted a joint proposal to the Conference on Disarmament for a new international treaty to ban weapons in outer space -- a plan rejected by the United States.

"Outer space is faced with the danger of weaponization and an arms race," said Chinese ambassador Hu Xiaodi, presenting the text to the 66-nation body.

It marked the first time Russia and China had made a joint initiative on the issue, which has long been a priority for Beijing because of its fears that U.S. development of a missile defense will inevitably involve outer space.

"We support the urgent adoption today of all measures possible in order to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space, rather than waste subsequently huge efforts and resources to have it "de-weaponized," said Russian Ambassador Leonid Skotnikov.

But the proposal looks certain to deepen the divisions that have dogged the conference -- the world's main body for negotiating arms-control treaties -- since 1996.

The Russian-Chinese initiative followed by two weeks United States' withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to permit U.S. development of defense systems to guard against strikes by terrorists.

Russia and China are among many nations which have objected to the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty, which they regard as a cornerstone of global efforts to prevent nuclear war.

The Conference on Disarmament counts the nuclear test ban treaty and ban on chemical weapons among its achievements. But it has been blocked by differences between the United States, Russia and China over missile defense and other ways to curb nuclear weapons.