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Russia rattles sabre over space weapons

Will take 'adequate retaliatory measures'

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Russia has warned that it will take "adequate retaliatory measures" against any deployment of space-based weapons. Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov used a trip to the Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan - celebrating its 50th birthday - to indulge in a bit of sabre rattling against Moscow's old adversary the US.

"We are categorically against the militarization of space," Ivanov said, according to Interfax news agency. "If some state begins to realize such plans, then we doubtless will take adequate retaliatory measures," he added.

The threat comes two weeks after the USAF pressed president Bush to approve a national security directive which "could move the United States closer to fielding offensive and defensive space weapons".

Commentators say that, given the relatively weak state of Russia's space programme, said retaliation is unlikely to be physical, but rather political. As Ivanov explained: "Maybe we will make stronger connections with China and India. We have other ways to solve our problems, because Americans are already the champions in technology." ®

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