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Iran Press TV

France joins space race with Russia spying accusations

Iran Press TV

Sat Sep 8, 2018 06:52AM

France has announced measures to join a space race which escalated recently as the US unveiled plans for militarization of the Earth's outer space.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said in a speech on Friday that Paris would complete a strategic space defense plan by the end of this year.

"We are in danger. Our communications, our military exercises, our daily lives are in danger if we do not react," Parly said.

"I have heard many people mock the announcement of the creation of an American Space Force. I am not one of them... all I see is an extremely powerful sign, a sign of future confrontations," she added.

Under the militarization plan, Paris will order a series of new satellites to provide surveillance and communications for the army and the intelligence services.

The European Union also plans to allocate $19 billion in its 2021-2027 budgets for space.

Parly also claimed that Russia was trying to spy on a European satellite when it flew a satellite close to the Athena-Fidus satellite which is used by both French and Italian armies to exchange secret intelligence.

She made the remarks only one week after President Emmanuel Macron called on the EU to modernize its post-Cold War relations with Russia.

Parly said France was still monitoring the Russian satellite Louch-Olymp "and we noted that it continued to move actively in the following months close to other targets."

US President Donald Trump outlined plans in August for American dominance in space by ordering the establishment of a sixth branch of the military - a "space force" – by 2020. Trump said he did not want "China and Russia and other countries leading us" in space and that he wanted to revive America's flagging space program.

Space Force would be a branch of the military on par with the army, navy, air force, marines and coast guard.

Russia said last week that there had been deliberate attempts to sabotage a Russian space craft docked at the International Space Station.

Russian space agency Chief Dmitry Rogozin said a hole was detected in the Soyuz ship craft, which was caused by a drill, adding could have been done deliberately, either back on Earth or by astronauts in space.

"There were several attempts at drilling," Rogozin said. "What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?"

"We are checking the Earth version. But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space," he added.

Rogozin said a state commission will seek to identify the culprit by name.

The Untied States and its European allies have warned about what they describe as the possession of destructive space weapons by China and Russia. A US intelligence report said earlier this year that Russia and China could be ready to use such weapons in "the next few years."

Russia, however, has already warned about an arms race in outer space, with its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressing the importance of preventing such a conflict.

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