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[Editorial] Space-Arms Race

Posted January. 22, 2007 07:03,   


China destroyed one of their aging weather satellites on January 12 with a ground-based ballistic missile. This is obviously an irresponsible action and Korea must not look on it with indifference. China is unlikely to avoid criticism because their anti-satellite weapons test is against the spirit of international cooperation and could spark an arms race.

The ballistic missile smashed the satellite orbiting 863 kilometers above the Earth into thousands of pieces, creating a mass of space debris. Debris from the last week’s blast will remain in orbit for more than decade, and it can pose a serious threat to numerous satellites and spacecraft that will pass orbit. This is a grave issue because it can endanger non-military satellites whose roles have become increasingly important in our daily lives.

Experts believe China, which has sought military expansion, intended to demonstrate its military capabilities and, at the same time, pressure the U.S., which has rejected discussion over the prevention of a space-arms race. China asked the U.S. to hold an international convention under the leadership of the United Nations to make a treaty ensuring the prevention of a space-arms race. However, the U.S., which is far advanced in the military satellite area, rejected China’s proposals. Though belated, the U.S. must acknowledge the necessity of dialogue to ban additional tests and the use of ballistic missiles if it wants to prevent space from being a future battlefield.

Korea, which already has several satellites for telecommunication and broadcasting purposes, has been working hard on space exploration with an aim to become a top-10 space power by 2015. This is why the Korean government has expressed its concern to China, asking it to confirm the incident. However, the government must not end with a mere gesture.

Strangely, Koreans have been silent over China’s ambition to expand its military power. If the U.S. destroyed a satellite, it would have triggered anti-American movements. Government and civil groups must not save words over China’s military ambition. We must keep in mind that, if China’s aggressive military build-up worsens relations between the U.S. and China and between the U.S. and Japan, it will create a neo cold-war order where the biggest victim will be Korea.