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Senator Kyle Urges Bush Administration To Confront China On Anti-Satellite Test January 30, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News, White House.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–A Republican senator is criticizing the Bush administration for failing to confront aggressively China’s test of a satellite-killing weapon, which he called a provocative militarization of space.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said neither President George W. Bush, a fellow Republican, nor top members of the president’s administration have made public statements about the test. Kyl also criticized Democratic leaders and the State Department.

“Key policy makers seem oblivious to the nature and the urgency of the threat,” Kyl told an audience at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. “It’s time to start speaking out about this.”

The Jan. 11 test, which has drawn criticism from the United States and Japan and sparked fears of an arms race in space, destroyed a defunct Chinese weather satellite by hitting it with a warhead launched on from a ballistic missile.

Kyl said the “muted response” in the U.S. has been due in part to the fierce congressional debate about the war in Iraq, which has drawn attention away from other foreign policy issues. As public anger mounts on Iraq, even some Republicans have begun to question Bush’s handling of the war.

Kyl also linked the administration’s silence to a “complicated relationship with China, which is difficult to manage under the best of circumstances. There is so much we want to engage with China.”

He mentioned U.S.-Chinese trade interests, and the need to secure Chinese help in the United Nations to confront alleged illicit nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. This, Kyl said, “inhibits our government from being as forthright as I think we should be in criticizing the Chinese when they do something as provocative as this.”

The danger, he said, is that “China believes that it must develop space weapons for its own security, specifically for preparation for possible conflict with the United States over Taiwan.”

Kyl called for congressional hearings to ensure that the Chinese program is not based on U.S. technology, “either shared or stolen.”

Also Monday, the deputy director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said in a discussion of the missile program’s capabilities that his agency had not been given the mandate to counteract the kind of technology that China demonstrated in its recent test. But he added that current technologies could be easily adapted to defend against an attack on U.S. satellites.

“That work would be straightforward if we were given that guidance or mandate,” said Brigadier General Patrick O’Reilly.

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