Russian official: US destruction of satellite, veiled missile test

Other News Materials 21 February 2008 20:03 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa ) - A Russian official warned Thursday that a missile strike by the United States on one of its own failed spy satellites meant a "new phase in the militarization of space," Interfax news agency reported.

Former secretary of the Russian Security Council Andrei Kokoshin said Thursday that the US destruction of a faulty satellite was a cover to test its capability for strikes against enemy satellites.

"The destruction of this US satellite was first and foremost a political demonstration of the US capabilities in this sphere," he said.

The US said it had undertaken the operation as it feared that the spy satellite was burdened by a hazardous fuel tank that could have posed a danger to mankind, if the spacecraft re-entered Earth's atmosphere.

Kokoshin, who heads Russia's committee for CIS Affairs, said the act was proof of the US military's intentions "to keep its 'hands free' with respect to the use of force in space and deployment of anti-satellite weapons."

He added that proof of this capability is "not anything new," judging that the United States has had such technology since already in the 20th century."

The US had not tested an anti-satellite weapon since 1985.

Russia's Defence Ministry accused the US military Saturday of failing to consult with other countries on the need for targeting the satellite and said it suspected ulterior motives.

The so-called US-193 satellite lost power and experienced computer failure which left it uncontrollable shortly after its launch in 2006.