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China, Russia Clash With US Over Space Weapons Treaty


China and Russia clashed with the United States Tuesday over a proposal to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament to create a treaty on space weapons.

During a meeting of the conference in Geneva Tuesday, Beijing and Moscow voiced their opposition to the U.S. refusal to sign a treaty banning space weapons, and warned that it could lead to an arms race in space.

In January, China secretly tested a satellite-destroying missile, shooting down one of its aging weather satellites. It later publicly confirmed the test, arguing that other countries should not view the test as a threat.

Last October, President Bush signed an order asserting the U.S. right to space weapons, and Washington's opposition to the development of treaties or other measures restricting them.

Speaking at the meeting in Geneva today, U.S. Ambassador Christina Rocca voiced Washington's commitment to the peaceful use of space. She stressed, however that the United States would also pursue programs to protect its satellites and spacecraft.

Rocca said Washington was very concerned about emerging threats to U.S. space assets.

She criticized China's recent test of its satellite missile, noting that it had created hundreds of pieces of large orbital debris that will stay in orbit for more than 100 years.

The Conference on Disarmament was established in 1979 and focuses on the prevention of nuclear war, the use or threat of nuclear weapons and other disarmament issues.

The organization is comprised of around 60 member countries and meets several times a year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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