The Soviet Union today threatened to deploy its own anti-satellite weapons system if the United States tests a missile against a target in space.
“If the United States tests an anti-satellite weapon against a target in space, the Soviet Union will have to end its moratorium on the deployment of anti-satellite weapons,” the official Novosti press agency said.
“If the U.S. Administration really valued its dialogue with Moscow and sought to achieve arms control agreements with it, it would not have made Soviet moratoriums a target for attacks,” Novosti said.
According to a schedule of the U.S. anti-satellite research program, the next such test calls for a target to be orbited and then destroyed by a missile launched from an F-15 fighter aircraft.
Test Not Completed
The United States has launched two targets into space but because of congressional restrictions, the test has not been completed and no date has been made public.
Novosti said Washington refuses to join Soviet moratoriums on nuclear testing and anti-satellite weapons because both research programs are necessary for the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, a program aimed at developing a space-based shield against nuclear missiles commonly known as “Star Wars.”
Novosti said the Soviet Union had maintained a moratorium on deploying anti-satellite weapons since 1983 while the United States developed its high-speed missile.
U.S. officials have said the Soviet Union already has an anti-satellite weapon, a primitive device that is designed to be put into orbit and then maneuvered to explode near the target satellite.
Novosti also repeated a warning that Moscow will end its unilateral ban on nuclear tests if the United States proceeds with its next scheduled explosion later this month in Nevada.
Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev announced a unilateral ban on nuclear tests last August and extended it twice, urging President Reagan to join the moratorium. Washington refused, saying the Soviets were ahead of the United States in testing.
“The efforts to make Congress lift its ban on the testing of anti-satellite weapons clearly aim at spreading the arms race into space,” Novosti said.
“Having refused to join the Soviet moratorium on nuclear explosions, the United States has now launched an offensive on another self-imposed Soviet ban.”