A green light for space weapons?!

President George Bush is expected to issue a directive in the next few weeks giving the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/cis/2003/03/20/44733.html ' target=_blank>US air force a green light for the development of space weapons, potentially triggering a new global arms race, it was reported yesterday.

The new weapons being studied range from hunter-killer satellites to orbiting weapons using lasers, radio waves, or even dense metal tubes dropped from space by a weapon known as "Rods from God" on ground targets.

The national security directive on space has been sought by the air force since last year. The New York Times yesterday quoted a senior administration official as saying a decision is expected within weeks. Neither the air force nor the White House returned calls seeking comment.

The directive will replace a 1996 directive signed by Bill Clinton which was vaguely worded but which emphasised the peaceful use of space, in line with almost unanimous global opinion. Plans for potential &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2001/08/03/11724.html ' target=_blank>space weapons were vetoed by the Clinton White House, reports the Guardian Unlimited.

The White House distanced itself Wednesday from a report that it was considering developing new weapons in space, but left open the possibility of future programs to protect U.S. satellites.

The somewhat contradictory stance came as the Bush administration works to finish a draft of a new national space policy. Spokesman Scott McClellan said the policy would take into account "the threats and challenges" to maintaining U.S. space capabilities.

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