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Pentagon reaffirms U.S. right to deny adversaries use of space

RIA Novosti

24/05/2007 13:46 WASHINGTON, May 24 (RIA Novosti) - The United States has the inherent right of self-defense to protect its national interests in space and can deny its adversaries the use of hostile space capabilities, a senior Pentagon official said Wednesday.

"The United States views purposeful interference with its space systems as an infringement on its rights and will take actions necessary to preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space including denying, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests," Major General James Armor, director of the National Security Space Office said at a congressional hearings.

Proposed government spending on space defense programs was hit by severe cuts when the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $2.9 trillion fiscal 2008 budget May 17, but reduced the proposed $8.9 billion on missile defenses by $764 million.

The Anti-Ballistic Laser (ABL) program was seriously affected, along with other "less mature" initiatives, such as Space Tracking and Surveillance, Multiple Kill Vehicles, and Missile Defense Space Test Bed, primarily linked to the deployment of missile defenses in outer space.

The general said Wednesday that the National Space Policy, issued by President Bush in August 2006, stipulates that the United States must possess an advanced space defense potential to counter threats from potential adversaries.

"The response to threats to our space capabilities must include... capabilities to deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space in order to protect our capabilities, ensure our terrestrial forces and keep the U.S. homeland safe," he said.

China tested its space weapons in January by destroying one of its old meteorological satellites with a medium-range ballistic missile, and the United States expressed concern over the theoretical possibility that China could shoot down satellites operated by other countries.

China later confirmed the destruction of its satellite, but said it was not planning to spread an arms race into space.

The U.S. general reiterated Wednesday that "potential adversaries must understand that an attack on a U.S. satellite will be considered a hostile act."

Speaking at the same congressional hearings, Donald Mahley, a senior State Department official, supported the Pentagon's views on the issue of the U.S. space defense program and said that the U.S. space capability must enable a broad range of options, from diplomatic to military, to prevent the hostile use of space by potential foes.

The U.S. Senate will hold a closed business meeting Thursday to markup the proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.

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