The most significant challenge for the United States from China is the pace at which the latter is developing its technology in space, US Space Force Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman said on Wednesday.
“The most significant challenge is the pace in which they [China] are developing all their systems, it is such a broad array of the counter-space capabilities that they are pursuing,” Saltzman told a briefing.
He drew attention to the speed with which China is developing space programs – from theory to practice, with systems already in orbit.
“I think our [US] challenge is going to be matching that pace,” Saltzman said.
China has been investing heavily in its ambitious space program in recent years and has already made significant progress, with 40 launches this year, according to Chinese media. Seven more are planned later in the year.
Among the most significant recent launches was last month’s launch of a Changzheng-2F vehicle with manned spacecraft Shenzhou-1 to the Tiangong orbital station.
Meanwhile, China has successfully placed a group of Yaogan-32 Earth remote-sensing satellites into orbit, the China National Space Administration said on Wednesday.
The satellite was launched aboard a Long March 2C carrier rocket at 3:43 p.m. local time (07:43 GMT) from the Jiuquan spaceport in northwestern China, the agency added.
The satellites will be used for scientific experiments, land surveys, crop yield estimates and monitoring disasters. Last week, China set a new record for the country in the number of space launches per year, conducting 40 liftoffs. The previous record of 39 launches was registered in 2018 and repeated in 2020.
Nuclear Arsenal Policy
The White House is planning to hold a score of National Security Council meetings later this month to decide on a new policy for the US nuclear arsenal, including possibly limiting the use of such a weapon to deterrence or retaliatory strike cases only, The Washington Post reported citing senior administration officials familiar with the discussions.
In 2017, the Obama administration stopped short of adopting the policy known as “sole purpose” meaning that the US nuclear arsenal can be used only to deter or retaliate. The concept was also advocated by then-Vice President Joe Biden.
During his presidential campaign in 2020, Biden reiterated his commitment to put his belief in a “sole purpose” into practice while consulting with the US allies and military, the report said on Tuesday.
“The US will continue to maintain a safe, secure, and effective strategic deterrent while ensuring our extended deterrence commitments to allies and partners remain strong and credible,” one of the senior administration officials said as quoted by the report.
At the same time, Biden has never voiced support for a “no first use” policy and the upcoming meetings’ agenda does not include an option to declare this policy pledge, according to the report.
The prospect of limiting the use of US nuclear arsenal has always been opposed by the Republican lawmakers as well as some of the Washington allies, the report said.
The officials will also discuss whether to scrap new nuclear capabilities approved under the Trump administration, according to the report.
British Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace in July underscored that the United Kingdom would not welcome a “no first use” or “sole purpose” declaration by the United States.
Besides Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Australia are among those US allies opposing the change of the American policy on nuclear weapons, the Financial Times reported earlier this week.