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India expresses concern over China’s anti-satellite test

New Delhi, India, 5 February 2007 – India for the first time has expressed its concern about last month’s ASAT (anti-satellite) test when China destroyed an aging satellite in space with a DF-21 missile.

Addressing an aerospace seminar organised by the Indian Air Force (IAF), External Affairs Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee said: “The security and safety of assets in outer space is of crucial importance… We call upon all states to redouble efforts to strengthen the international legal regime for peaceful uses of outer space.”

The language was guarded, and couched in a call for collaborative international action against weaponisation of outer space. But the message was clear and deliberate. According to sources, it reflected the concerns of both the MEA and the Ministry of Defence, which had hitherto remained silent. The message had been worked on by the top strategists in the Indian government, reflecting the degree of Indian unhappiness on the Chinese test on January 11.

“Satellites play an important role in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, securing communication and delivering accurate firepower on the ground at large distances. Recent developments show that we are treading a thin line between current defence-related uses of space and its actual weaponisation,” he said.