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Is China Readying Another Antisatellite Test?

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 04-Jan-2013
Updated: 04-Jan-2013 12:06 PM

Greg Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists warns that the Chinese may be getting ready for another antisatellite (ASAT) test and wants the United States to try talking them out of it.

Kulacki points out that China's most infamous ASAT test, which created over 3,000 pieces of space debris, was on January 11, 2007, and a second test (which others refer to as a ballistic missile defense rather than ASAT test) was on January 11, 2010.   Rumors of another test have been circulating for months and based on various statements by Chinese and U.S. officials and past practice, he concludes it is "a strong possibility."

His interest is in what the U.S. response should be either before or after the test.  His advice is for the Obama Administration to first try quiet diplomacy to dissuade China from conducting the test.  If China does not respond positively, he continues, the White House should issue a "strong public statement" before the test occurs to ratchet up international pressure to stop it.

Noting that both the United States and Soviet Union conducted ASAT tests early in their space programs, but later discontinued them, Kulacki advocates a "meaningful bilateral dialog" between the United States and China to "hasten the day" that China makes a similar decision to cease such testing.


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