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US Hawks Bolstered By China Weapons Test In Space

Thanks for the data, China...
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jan 20, 2007
China's reported shooting down of an orbiting satellite will bolster hawks in Washington concerned that Beijing poses a strategic threat to the United States, a newspaper warned here Saturday. "Good shooting, yes, but is it good politics?" the Financial Times asked in an editorial. "The US clearly sees it as part of an effort by China to develop anti-satellite capability that could threaten its extensive space assets," the newspaper said.

"The Chinese test may or may not lead to a new arms race in space. But it will certainly strengthen the hand of hawks in Washington who regard Chinese power as a strategic threat to the US," it added.

It said China, which "is not known for foolhardy or precipitate action," may have been unnerved by two developments.

"First, the US nuclear co-operation agreement with nuclear-armed India is the clearest indication yet of Washington's wish to build up a counterweight to China in Asia and the Pacific," it said.

"But second, last summer the Bush administration came out with a new policy asserting that the US regarded space as important a dimension for the nation's security as air or sea power," it added.

"It may have been no coincidence that, within weeks, China ruffled American feathers by using a ground-based laser to illuminate a US satellite -- and highlight its own reach into space," it said.

The United States, whose spy agencies claimed China destroyed the ageing weather satellite on January 11, and its Asian allies have expressed misgivings.

The impact reportedly occurred more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth, high enough to hit orbiting satellites.

China has said only that the world should not feel threatened by the development but refused to confirm it had happened.

If confirmed, it would be the world's first downing of a satellite since the 1980s, when the Soviet Union and the United States both destroyed space hardware in orbit.

The two superpowers ceased the tests largely because of the problem of debris.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Gates Returns Home After Road Testing New Strategy
Washington (AFP) Jan 20, 2007
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates returned home Saturday with assurances that so far Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is living up to his pledge to support a renewed crackdown on sectarian violence. Three Iraqi divisions are lining up to go to Baghdad as promised and US forces have swooped down on suspected Iranian agents and death squad leaders, including an official of Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr's militia, without government interference.

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