U.S. PLAYS DOWN SATURDAY PACIFIC MISSILE TEST

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 10, 2001 – Radio Australia)---U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has played down a planned missile defense test over the Pacific Ocean as just "one more" in a series of tests that could raise as many questions as it answers.

The test on Saturday will involve the firing of a missile over the Pacific Ocean from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

An interceptor missile will then by launched from the Ronald Reagan Missile Test Facility, Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The missile is planned to be intercepted some ten minutes later, 225 kilometers (135 miles) above the Pacific Ocean.

Despite international objections, U.S. President George W. Bush said Washington must go ahead with its $60 billion missile defense system.

He said the system is necessary to protect U.S. interests from attack by what Washington considers to be "rogue states," such as North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Two of three previous interception attempts failed, which prompted former president Bill Clinton to defer a decision on whether to order deployment of the missile system by 2005.

Mr. Rumsfeld said the test is just one more in a "reasonably robust" test series.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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