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China calls on scientists of all nations to study lunar samples, but notes obstacle with the US

BANGKOK (AP) — China’s space officials said Thursday they welcomed scientists from around the world to apply to study the lunar rock samples that the Chang’e 6 probe brought back to Earth in a historic mission, but noted there were limits to that cooperation, specifically with the United States.

Officials said at a televised news conference in Beijing meant to introduce the mission’s achievements that any cooperation with the U.S. would be hinged on removing an American law that bans direct bilateral cooperation with NASA.

“The source of the obstacle in US-China aerospace cooperation is still in the Wolf Amendment,” said Bian Zhigang, vice chair of the China National Space Administration. “If the U.S. truly wants to hope to began regular aerospace cooperation, I think they should take the appropriate measures to remove the obstacle.”

The Wolf Amendment was enacted in 2011 and prevents direct U.S.-Chinese bilateral cooperation except in cases where the FBI can certify that there is no national security risk to sharing information with the Chinese side in the course of work.

Still, China could cooperate with scientists of other countries. It worked with the European Space Agency, France, Italy and Pakistan in the Chang’e 6 mission.

“China welcomes scientists from all countries to apply according to the processes and share in the benefits,” said Liu Yunfeng, director of the international cooperation office of the China National Space Administration.

Meanwhile, little information about the global first achieved Tuesday was announced. Chinese officials declined to reveal how many samples they actually gathered or any preliminary findings.

“I’m afraid this matter will not be revealed until tomorrow, so I hope everyone can wait