Issue Brief on “UNSC Resolution on Outer Space: The Challenge of Regulation”

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On April 24, 2024, Japan and the U.S. tabled a resolution in the United Nations Security Council prohibiting the placement of nuclear weapons or any other Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in outer space. However, the resolution was vetoed by Russia. The first-ever resolution in the UNSC by the U.S.-Japan comes in the backdrop of earlier concerns by the U.S. and its allies that Russia was planning to place a nuclear-capable weapon in outer space. At face value, this seems a straightforward issue. In reality, it is a complex one with a long history of Russia and China, with Pakistan as an ardent supporter and lobbying for, trying to negotiate a legally binding treaty that prohibits the placement of all weapons in outer space and Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS). The challenge of regulating outer space is much more complex and needs to be looked at in a historical context.

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