China Knocks Down US Missile Initiative
China on Saturday vetoed a US proposal aimed at reducing the vulnerability of commercial aircraft to heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles, an official said.
The proposal asking members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group to assess the vulnerability of their airports to Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS), was tabled at a meeting of APEC officials here.
"China objected to it so there was no consensus. It's a political and touchy issue," said an Asian foreign ministry official who attended the session, asking to remain anonymous.
The official declined to explain why China vetoed the proposal, saying only it was a very sensitive issue.
APEC, a loose grouping of 21 countries and territories bordering the Pacific Ocean, arrives at decisions by consensus and any disagreement from one member can veto an initiative.
The senior officials began meeting in this southern South Korean city on Saturday to discuss issues to be presented to their leaders who will gather for a November 18-19 summit.
At Saturday's session, the APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force presented the US proposal which asked members to carry out an assessment of at least one major airport within their country or territory to determine if planes using it are vulnerable to MANPADS.
The assessment was supposed to be completed by the end of 2006 using standards developed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
MANPADS are surface-to-air missile systems especially designed to be carried and fired by an individual.
Because of their size, MANPADS are easily hidden and moved but can be devastating. There are fears they could be used against commercial planes, which are vulnerable shortly after takeoff and before landing.
In November 2002, suspected terrorists fired two SA-7 surface-to-air weapons at a Boeing 757 airliner chartered to evacuate Israeli civilians out of Mombasa, Kenya. The weapons narrowly missed the plane.
The missiles use heat-seeking sensors that home in on the targets' infrared signature, such as the engine.
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