China last month conducted another test of a satellite-killing missile that reflects Chinese efforts to weaponize space, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command said Wednesday. “It’s very problematic to see China working to weaponize space in tests like this one they just had, and so [it’s] very concerning to me as the U.S. Strategic Command commander, and to our nation at large, given our dependency on that capability,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, Strategic Command chief. Haney, speaking to reporters after remarks to a Stratcom-sponsored conference on nuclear deterrence, also voiced worries about the recent increase in Russian strategic nuclear bomber incursions into U.S. air defense identification zones near Alaska and close to U.S. territory. “I will say that the business of them coming close to the United States of America, we take very seriously,” said the four-star admiral who is in charge of U.S. nuclear warfighting forces. The blunt comments about Chinese weaponization of space are unusual and followed the July 23 test of what U.S. officials said was China’s low-earth orbit DN-1 anti-satellite interceptor.
It was the latest ASAT test by China that both Pentagon and State Department spokesmen described as a “non-destructive” prototype. China, for its part, did not identify the July 23 test as an ASAT weapon. Instead, China said it involved a missile defense system. The Chinese Defense Ministry dubbed the test “a land-based anti-missile technology experiment.” Frank Rose, deputy assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, said during the conference that the recent Chinese ASAT missile was “designed to destroy satellites in low-earth orbit.” “Despite China’s claims that this was not an ASAT test, let me assure you the United States has high confidence in its assessment that the event was indeed an ASAT test,” he said. Rose said the development and testing of destructive anti-satellite weapons “are both destabilizing and threaten the long term security and sustainability of the space environment.” The latest ASAT test followed the highly destructive January 2007 test missile attack against a Chinese weather satellite, and a May 2013 test of a more capable high-earth orbit satellite killing interceptor, known as the DN-2. More