US Threatened to Attack China Over Space Weapons

Beijing 'anti-satellite' display prompted threat from US
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 3, 2011 8:59 AM CST
Condoleeza Rice,then U.S. Secretary of State, listens to translation at U.N. Headquarters in New York Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007.   (AP Photo/David Karp)

(Newser) – The US threatened to take military action against China after Beijing conducted an "anti-satellite test" in 2007 in which it shot down one of its own weather satellites with a missile, WikiLeaks documents reveal. Fearful that the action demonstrated China's ability to destroy satellites belonging to the US, officials working for then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told China that the act threatened "to destroy space systems that the United States and other nations use for commerce and national security." It continued: "The US reserves the right" to "protect its space systems with a wide range of options, from diplomatic to military."

The US also pointed out that it had not conducted an anti-satellite test since 1985 ... then followed the January 2008 warning by destroying of one of its own satellites one month later. The move was explained as a health precaution—the satellite reportedly had a toxic fuel tank—but secret documents show it was a military effort, the Telegraph reports. Still, a Pentagon rep said yesterday the mission’s "purpose was to prevent the satellite's hydrazine fuel from causing potential harm to life on the ground." The Telegraph adds that a January 2010 cable marked "secret" reports that China had launched a new anti-satellite test, destroying one missile with another 150 miles above Earth. Click through for more on the WikiLeaks material.

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