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Criticizing China Test, US Cites Need To Secure Space Technology January 19, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Military News, US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–Criticizing China’s test of an anti-satellite weapon, the State Department said Friday “modern life as we know it” depends on the security of space-based technology.

Deputy spokesman Tom Casey said the administration raised concerns about the test with Chinese officials here and in Beijing, making clear its opposition to “any militarization of space.”

He said tests of the kind which China carried out “produce extensive amounts of space debris, have the potential for disturbing or accidentally disrupting communication satellites or other kinds of space vehicles that are out there.”

At the White House on Friday, deputy press secretary Dana Perino said Chinese officials hadn’t yet responded to U.S. inquiries.

“We do want cooperation on a civil space strategy, so until we hear back from them or have more information, I don’t have any more to add,” Perino said.

The test reportedly knocked out an aging Chinese weather satellite with a vehicle launched on board a ballistic missile. The satellite was believed located about 500 miles above the earth.

Casey acknowledged that the U.S. carried out an anti-satellite device test in 1985 but said the international context was entirely different at the time, pointing to the Cold war tensions of that period.

More important, he said is the impact of space technology on everyday life compared with the earlier period. As examples, satellite communications have revolutionized weather forecasting as well as television viewing. Satellites are also important for military communications.

Rep. Terry Everett, senior Republican on the House Armed Services Subcommittee of Strategic Forces, said China’s test “raises serious concerns about the vulnerability of our space-based assets. We depend on satellites for a host of military and commercial uses, from navigation to ATM transactions.”

Casey, asked whether the U.S. plans to forswear weapons tests in space, said, “My understanding is there are no plans or intentions on the part of the United States to engage in such activities.”

The U.S. disclosure that China had carried out the test raised concerns in Asia and prompted demands for explanations from Beijing.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki also suggested that China’s lack of transparency over its military development could trigger suspicions about its motives in the region.

In his annual threat address to Congress, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, said last week that China and Russia are the “primary states of concern” regarding military space programs.

“Several countries continue to develop capabilities that have the potential to threaten U.S. space assets, and some have already deployed systems with inherent anti-satellite capabilities,” he said. His written testimony was presented on Jan. 11, the same day as China’s test.

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