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U.S. Statement at the Conference on Disarmament
February 19, 2009

Statement by Garold N. Larson

Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.,
of the United States Delegation
to the Conference on Disarmament

(As prepared for delivery)

Geneva, Switzerland
February 19, 2009

Mr. President,

As this is the first time I have formally taken the floor this year, let me congratulate you on assuming the role of President of the Conference. I also wish to commend the service of Ambassador Le Hoai Trung of Vietnam, who facilitated a smooth and rapid start to our work this year.

Mr. President,

We have all noted with concern the collision last week between the privately operated Iridium communications satellite, and the inactive Russian Cosmos satellite. We are in communication with the Russian Federation regarding the collision, and those discussions began promptly after the collision – this in itself is a valuable transparency and confidence building measure. The U.S. Department of Defense is currently assessing the events leading up to the collision, but will need additional time to arrive at definitive conclusions – perhaps weeks.

As a leading space-faring nation, the U.S. Government takes these issues very seriously. We have been, and continue to be, active in identifying potential hazards and are taking steps to preserve safety of flight in the complex environment of outer space.

Last week’s collision underscores the increasingly congested space environment. Collisions, and other similar events, can have the effect of denying valuable areas of space for productive uses. This collision emphasizes the vital importance of international cooperation between governments and industry, which is critical in the future to improve space safety.

My delegation and I are looking forward to further productive discussions in this Conference in connection with outer space.

Thank you, Mr. President.