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    Russia's defense minister denies satellite destruction rumors

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    The Russian defense minister denied Friday allegations that China launched a ballistic missile January 11 that destroyed a satellite.

    MOSCOW, January 19 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian defense minister denied Friday allegations that China launched a ballistic missile January 11 that destroyed a satellite.

    CNN, a U.S.-based global television network, earlier said that a U.S. National Security Council spokesman confirmed a report in the magazine American Aviation Week and Space Technology that China last week destroyed one of its old meteorological satellites with a medium-range ballistic missile.

    "I have heard such rather unsubstantiated reports, and I am afraid they are unfounded," Sergei Ivanov said. "There is nothing to comment on. The rumors are largely exaggerated."

    However, Japan, Australia and the United States have already expressed concern over the alleged weapons test and the theoretical possibility that China could shoot down satellites operated by other countries.

    China has yet to confirm the destruction of its satellite, but is likely to face stern criticism for an attempt to spread an arms race into space.

    Ivanov, who is also deputy prime minister, said Russia has always opposed the militarization of space and will continue to do so.

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