Washington The United States criticized China on Thursday for conducting an anti-satellite weapons test in which an old Chinese weather satellite was destroyed by a missile.
The Bush administration has kept a lid on the test for a week as it weighs its significance. Analysts said China's weather satellites would travel about the same altitude as U.S. spy satellites, so the test represented an indirect threat to U.S. defense systems.
"The United States believes China's development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. "We and other countries have expressed our concern to the Chinese."
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki also suggested that China's lack of transparency over its military development could trigger suspicions about its motives in the region.
"From the viewpoint of the peaceful use of space and security, the Japanese government is naturally concerned about this act of destroying an artificial satellite with a ballistic missile," Shiozaki told reporters in Tokyo.
Kyodo News agency quoted Foreign Minister Taro Aso as saying Tokyo had received a message from Beijing saying the two countries "are in accord on the peaceful uses of space."
The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, told Congress last week in his annual threat address that China and Russia are the "primary states of concern" regarding military space programs.
The test, first reported by Aviation Week, destroyed the satellite by hitting it with a kinetic kill vehicle launched on board a ballistic missile.