Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

GOP lawmaker demands Biden admin declassify intel on Russia’s nuclear anti-satellite program

By 37ci3 Jun21,2024


The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is demanding that the Biden administration declassify all relevant intelligence. Status of Russia’s nuclear anti-satellite programsaid that this will allow a full public discussion about the threat posed by Moscow’s project.

Representative Mike Turner of Ohio he said in his speech that the Biden administration failed to squarely confront the Russians about an anti-satellite weapon that could threaten the array of satellites orbiting the Earth on which modern society depends for communication and navigation.

“The Biden administration must immediately declassify all known information regarding the status of Russia’s nuclear anti-satellite weapons program,” Turner told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.

“[Russian President] Vladimir Putin thrives in secrecy. Putin’s plans and weapons programs must be fully disclosed by the administration and understood by the world,” Turner said.

The GOP congressman forced the administration to go public in February Russia’s effort to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting satellites After the White House made a cryptic statement about the need to declassify certain information. Ultimately, the administration acknowledged that Russia was developing such a weapon, though it said it was not an imminent threat and did not publicly provide other details.

John Plumb.
John Plumb on Capitol Hill on March 30, 2023.Jose Luis Magana / AP file

Turner said the administration was too slow to act and was reluctant to publicly share information about the Russian program, which he argued prevented the U.S. and its allies from fully discussing how to respond to what he called a potentially “catastrophic” threat. all civilian activities in space.

“Intelligence is gathered so you can influence the outcome. It’s not like we can be casual observers,” Turner said after his speech.

The lawmaker said public sharing of more information on the state of Russia’s anti-satellite “means, methods and techniques” would not risk intelligence gathering, but would help Washington and US allies determine a course of action to prevent Moscow from deploying such a missile. weapon.

Turner also said the United States and its NATO allies must commit together to implement the UN Outer Space Treaty, which bans weapons in space.

The Biden administration rejected Turner’s criticism and has not promised to declassify more information about Russia’s weapons program.

“He’s just wrong. He is clearly wrong,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“Look, we’ve taken this absolutely seriously. We have addressed this problem identified from every possible angle, including intensive diplomacy with countries around the world and, obviously, direct negotiations with Russia,” Kirby said.

Kirby and other administration officials noted that the United States proposed a resolution at the UN Security Council in April to prevent an arms race in outer space. Russia vetoed the resolution.

“We are working hard to get other countries to join us in clarifying the dangers of an anti-satellite weapon designed to carry a nuclear weapon,” Kirby said.

He added that it would have been better to keep intelligence on the Russian project secret to allow for private diplomacy, but Turner’s announcement in February ultimately led to the leak of the program.

“As we said at the time, in February, when this was made public, the release of this highly sensitive intelligence was very irresponsible, and it was something that the intelligence community itself was deeply concerned about,” Kirby said. “And we assessed that a more effective approach would be to initiate a private engagement rather than immediately disclosing the intelligence.”

He added: “We will continue our efforts to prevent Russia from putting nuclear weapons into orbit. We will do our best to prevent this.”

In May, a senior Defense Department official confirmed to lawmakers that Russia is developing an “indiscriminate” anti-satellite nuclear device that could threaten all satellites operated by countries and companies around the world.

Before leaving as assistant secretary of defense for space policy, John Plumb told a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing that the threat was “inevitable” but that the Pentagon and “the entire” Biden administration were concerned about the program.

Asked about the potential impact of such a weapon, Plumb said low-Earth orbit — the most common orbit for satellites — would be rendered useless by radiation from a nuclear explosion for up to a year.



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