US works to explain planned satellite shoot-down not offensive test

The Bush administration is trying to convince foreign countries that the US Defense Department's plan to shoot down a dying spy satellite is not a test of a program to kill their orbiting communications and intelligence capabilities. The State Department has instructed US diplomats around the world to inform their host governments that the operation, which might be conducted as early as next week, will be aimed solely at protecting people who could be affected by about 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel on the bus-size satellite now hurtling toward Earth. "Our role is to reassure nations around the world as to the nature of what we are tying to do," spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday. "It's an attempt to try to protect populations on the ground."