International

Satellite test was not a weapon, says Russia

Moscow, Jul 25 (IANS) | Publish Date: 7/25/2020 12:10:04 PM IST

Accusations from the US and UK that Russia recently tested anti-satellite weaponry in space are “distorted”, Russia’s defence ministry said.

“Tests carried out [on July 15] did not create a threat for other spacecraft,” the ministry said, adding that it had not violated international law, the BBC reported.

Moscow said earlier that it had been using new technology to perform checks on Russian space equipment.

But the US and UK said they were concerned about the satellite activity.

“We are concerned by the manner in which Russia tested one of its satellites by launching a projectile with the characteristics of a weapon,” the head of the UK’s space directorate, Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, said on Thursday.

It is the first time that the UK has made accusations about Russian test-firing in space, and comes just days after an inquiry said the UK government “badly underestimated” the threat posed by Russia.

The US State Department also said it had observed the use by Russia of “what would appear to be actual in-orbit anti-satellite weaponry”.

The US and Russia are to hold bilateral talks on space security in Vienna next week, the first since 2013.

The talks could be an opportunity to emphasise that “outer space is not a lawless and ungoverned territory”, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-proliferation Christopher Ford said.

In a statement on Friday, Russia’s foreign ministry said that one of the country’s “inspector” satellites had “carried out a check of a Russian spacecraft at close range with the use of specialised small spacecraft apparatus”.

It said the operation “did not violate any norms or principles of international law”.

The ministry accused the US and UK of “again attempting to present the situation in a distorted manner in order to... justify their steps to deploy weapons in space and achieve funding to that end”.

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