WASHINGTON (AP) — China recently conducted a “very concerning” test of a hypersonic weapon system as part of its aggressive advance in space and military technologies, the top U.S. military officer says.

General Mark Milley (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) was the first Pentagon official who confirmed on record that a test by the Chinese military this year had been conducted. Financial Times had reportedThe hypersonic, nuclear-capable weapon was launched into space. After orbiting the Earth it returned to Earth and then glided toward China.

Milley claimed that details could not be discussed because they were classified intelligence. Milley said that the United States is also working on hypersonic weapon designs. Their key characteristics include speed, flight, and maneuverability, which make them capable of deflecting U.S. early warning systems. Milley stated that the U.S. had not performed a hypersonic weapon testing.

“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system, and it is very concerning,” Milley said on “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” on Bloomberg Television.

“I think I saw in some of the newspapers, they used the term Sputnik moment,” he added. “I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. So it’s a very significant technological event that occurred, or test that occurred, by the Chinese. And it has all of our attention.”

The 1957 launch by the Soviet Union of Sputnik, a satellite for the communication of information to the Earth, shocked the whole world.

China has denied Western media reports that it had tested the rocket, claiming that its technology was being developed for peaceful uses.

Asked about Milley’s remarks, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said he was conveying concern about China’s military modernization.

“They continue to pursue capabilities that increase tensions in the region,” she said. “And we continue to have concerns about that. And I think that was reflected in his comments.”

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby declined to comment on the test or on Milley’s remarks beyond saying that China’s work on advanced hypersonic weaponry is among a “suite of issues” that cause the Biden administration to be concerned by “the trajectory of where things are going in the Indo-Pacific.”

Asked about progress on U.S. hypersonic weapon technologies, Kirby said it “is real, it’s tangible, and we are absolutely working toward being able to develop that capability.” He declined to provide specifics.

Some U.S. defense experts say the worry about China’s work on a hypersonic weapon that could deliver a nuclear weapon from space are overblown.

James Acton, of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote last week in an essay that the United States was always at risk from a Chinese nuclear strike.

“While the prospect of a nuclear attack against the United States is terrifying, this is no Sputnik moment — partly because it’s not entirely clear what was tested, but mostly because the threat of a Chinese nuclear attack on the United States isn’t remotely new,” Acton wrote.

In addition to its advances in hypersonic weapons, China has been expanding its network of underground silos that could be used to launch intercontinental-range nuclear missiles, and it has rebuffed U.S. calls to join nuclear arms control talks. Concerns have been raised by the U.S. about Chinese attempts to intimidate Taiwan. China considers Taiwan a part of its territory. They also claim other South China Sea land features and disputed islands.

This report was contributed by Alexandra Jaffe and Lolita C.Baldor, both Associated Press journalists.

Source: HuffPost.com.

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