MOSCOW — The Soviet Union announced Wednesday that it will feel free to deploy anti-satellite systems in space if the United States conducts its planned test of an anti-satellite weapon.
The official news agency Tass said Moscow will "consider itself free" to lift its two-year-old moratorium on deploying anti-satellite weapons if the American test goes ahead.
In Washington, the United States dismissed the announcement as having "little practical meaning," because "they (the Soviets) have had for several years an operational ASAT system."
The Reagan Administration, in identically worded statements issued by the White House and the State Department, reaffirmed U.S. intentions to go ahead with the American test.
In August, President Reagan informed Congress that the first operational test of an American anti-satellite rocket would be carried out on an old communications satellite.
The United States says the test and the research on anti-satellite weapons are needed to match Soviet development of similar weapons.
Earlier in Washington, it was reported that the test, originally scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, was postponed at least one day after lawyers determined that the waiting period imposed by Congress did not expire until midnight Wednesday.
"The required 15-day waiting period following President Reagan's ASAT certification to Congress will expire at midnight tonight," the Pentagon said in a statement. "The first test of the U.S. anti-satellite system against an object in space is planned for later this month."
An Air Force spokesman insisted that the delay is related only to legal problems and not to any linked to the weapon or its target.
A test planned for July against a target launched for the trial was scrubbed as a result of technical problems, and the Pentagon then went ahead with its plans for the current test against a Navy satellite no longer in use.