ROME — The Vatican lamented Friday that “the military use of outer space remains relatively uncontrolled” while calling for the complete disarmament of the celestial realm.
In an address Friday to the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, permanent observer of the Holy See to the U.N., warned that the lack of military regulations in outer space “risks the prospect of an arms race.”
While the Outer Space Treaty prohibits the placement or stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space and on celestial bodies, Archbishop Caccia noted that no other pacts place significant limits on the military use of outer space.
Moreover, he declared, “Numerous States have conducted tests of anti-satellite weapons, which crowd low earth orbit with ever more debris, hampering the peaceful use of this increasingly important domain.”
The archbishop called on the U.N. to support undertakings to “preclude the use, or stationing in outer space or on Earth, of destructive capabilities aimed at objects in outer space.”
“The Holy See condemns outrightly any aspiration to extend to outer space the weapons and military capabilities that cause immense suffering and destruction on Earth,” Caccia stated.
Additionally, the U.N. should seek the “general and complete disarmament” of outer space “under strict and effective international control,” he said.
“Should outer space be weaponized, this noble goal will only move further out of reach,” he added.
The archbishop underscored the Vatican’s support for measures that could support “the maintenance of a weapons-free outer space, for example by establishing ‘keep-out’ zones around satellites and providing for pre-launch inspection of payloads to ensure their benign character.”
Caccia concluded by emphasizing “the importance of preserving the peaceful nature of outer space, given the ever more prominent role it plays in commerce, development and research.”