Image: Putin and Singh
Alexander Nemenov  /  AFP-Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin leans toward Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their press conference in New Delhi on Thursday. Putin avoided directly criticizing a recent Chinese anti-satellite test and instead referred to U.S. "militarization of space."
updated 1/25/2007 12:20:51 PM ET 2007-01-25T17:20:51

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday criticized U.S. plans for space-based weapons, saying they were the reason behind a recent Chinese anti-satellite weapons test.

Asked about the Chinese test at a news conference in New Delhi after a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Putin avoided directly criticizing the Chinese, saying only that Russia was against putting any weapons in space.

Instead, Putin chose to issue a warning to the United States on the dangers of the militarization of space. “At the same time, I would like to note that China was not the first country to conduct such a test,” Putin said.

Russia’s criticism of the U.S. move comes after the United States and other allies raised concerns over the rising militarization of space after a successful test by China of an anti-satellite weapon.

China confirmed the test on Tuesday, but didn’t provide details. Aviation Week, which first reported the test, said the satellite was hit by a kinetic kill vehicle launched from a ballistic missile.

Analysts said the test represented an indirect threat to U.S. defense systems by raising the possibility that its spy satellites could be shot down. The threat wouldn’t affect the anti-missile system, which relies only on ground-based radar.

The U.S. military experimented with the capability to disable orbiting satellites in the 1980s, during the Cold War. More recently, President Bush signed an order in October asserting the United States’ right to deny adversaries access to space for hostile purposes.

The Soviet Union conducted its own tests of anti-satellite weapons in the 1980s, but in his remarks about the precedents for China's satellite shootdown, Putin appeared to be referring to Washington rather than Moscow.

“The first such test was conducted back in the late 1980s and we also hear it today about the U.S. military circles considering plans of militarization of space. We must not let the genie out of the bottle,” Putin said.

Bush has pushed an ambitious program of space-based missile defense, and the Pentagon is working on missile systems, ground-based and airborne lasers and other technology for military space maneuvers.

This report was supplemented by information from MSNBC.com.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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