China calls for space treaty

Updated: 2007-02-01 18:56

BEIJING - China said Thursday it is ready to work with other countries on an agreement to prevent an arms race in space amid an international uproar over its firing of an anti-satellite missile.

"Since other countries care about this question and are opposed to weaponization of space and an arms race in space, then let us join hands to realize this goal," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu when asked to respond to criticism of the test by the United States and Japan.

In recent years, China and Russia have called for an international space treaty but encountered strong opposition from the United States.

The Jan. 11 missile test, confirmed by Beijing after two weeks of silence, destroyed a defunct Chinese weather satellite by hitting it with a warhead on a ballistic missile. It made China only the third country after Russia and the US to shoot down anything in space.

China insists it is committed to the peaceful use of space but Washington and Tokyo have said the test undermined efforts to keep weapons out of space.

President Bush signed an order in October tacitly asserting the US right to space weapons and opposing the development of treaties or other measures restricting them.

Several countries have said they were concerned that debris created by the test could damage or interfere with the operations of other satellites in orbit. Jiang did not respond to a question about how much debris was generated by the hit.

Russia and China presented a draft outline for a treaty to prevent the deployment of weapons in space to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in June 2002.

The United States objected at the time, saying the 1967 Outer Space Treaty provided sufficient guarantees against the weaponization of space.

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