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Reports of US not willing to cooperate with Russia on Moon incorrect — NASA

In his words, Russia’s participation in the Gateway lunar orbiter project can become a first step in signing a Moscow-Washington deal within the framework of the Artemis Accords

WASHINGTON, May 16. /TASS/. Media reports that the United States was not willing to include Russia into its draft agreement on Moon exploration were incorrect, Acting Associate Administrator for NASA's Office of International and Interagency Relations Michael Gold told reporters.

"I think it’s unfortunate that there were a lot of media leaks that did not properly describe what the Artemis Accords were, so I’m not surprised for some of those reactions. Frankly, if I was in their place, I might have reacted similarly, given the information that was presented," he said, when asked to comment on a Reuters report that the United States was preparing an international agreement on moon mining without Russia’s participation.

He also gave a positive answer to a TASS question on whether the United States viewed Russia as its partner in Moon exploration and whether Moscow could count on signing an agreement with Washington within the framework of Artemis Accords if it wants so.

"I think in many ways Russia already has. As you know, Russia is a signatory to the [1967] Outer Space Treaty," he said. "That’s why I’m very hopeful that now that we come out and have described what’s in these accords and that they are grounded on the Outer Space Treaty, that Russia will be able to take a hard look at this kind of thing now."

In his words, Russia’s participation in the Gateway project to create a lunar orbiter jointly with the US can become a first step in signing a Moscow-Washington agreement within the framework of the Artemis Accords.

"As we look at the Russian cooperation on Artemis, I expect a great deal of it. It may center around the Gateway," the NASA official said. "That may be a precursor, possibly, to Artemis Accords agreements, because Russia already expressed interest in participating in the Gateway program."

"There is nothing in the Accords, we would hope, that Russia would object to," he added.

Artemis Accords

On Friday, NASA unveiled the basic principles for its projected international agreement on exploration of the Moon. The agreement is named the Artemis Accords, after the US’s Artemis moon program, and will comprise a series of bilateral agreements between the United States and partner nations. The deal is expected to be based on the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Among its principles NASA named the resource mining on the Earth’s natural satellite and the creation of "Safety Zones" intended to prevent "harmful interference."

Earlier, Reuters reported, citing its sources that the US administration prepares a project of a new international agreement on resource mining on the moon, which it plans to involve a number of partners state in, and Russia will not be among them during the early stage.

The agreement implies creation of "safety zones" around future moon bases in a bid "to prevent damage or interference from rival countries or companies operating in close proximity," according to Reuters. It will also spell out rules within the international law which will allow companies mining resources on the moon to claim property rights over these resources.

The draft agreement has not been presented to the US allies, but, according to Reuters, Washington plans to officially engage in negotiations with such countries as Canada, Japan, the EU states and the UAE.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier told journalists that the US draft agreement on resource mining on the moon requires a thorough review from the standpoint of the international law, adding that he is not ready to evaluate this project directly yet.

Gateway Project

The Lunar Gateway, previously known as Deep Space Gateway and Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, proposed by the US, is supposed to become a transit point for human missions to Moon and far space. Earlier, the United States invited its international partners in the International Space Station (ISS) project, including Russia, to participate.

Among other things, NASA has sent a memorandum to Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos, which specifies details of the project and lists cooperation opportunities under this program.

Earlier, Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) CEO Dmitry Rogozin told TASS that the Agency is ready to take part in the international Lunar Gateway project on equal footing with NASA. In turn, Roscosmos Deputy CEO on international cooperation Sergey Savelyev told TASS that the Agency is ready to cooperate with NASA on Gateway after upcoming Russian spacecraft and super-heavy rocket pass tests, which would at least provide the project with reserve means of support and rescue.