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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Sources claim Russia is developing a nuclear space weapon to obliterate satellites using energy waves

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MOSCOW — In a move​ that‍ could‌ potentially disrupt global communication and internet services, Russia is reportedly developing a⁤ nuclear space ⁢weapon. This weapon, upon detonation, would generate a massive energy wave capable of destroying satellites, according to ⁢three‍ sources privy to the‌ intelligence.

These sources have provided CNN with a‍ more comprehensive insight into Russia’s project ⁤and the potential threat it poses, than what has been previously ⁢disclosed by the U.S. government.

On Wednesday,⁢ Republican Rep. Mike Turner of ⁣Ohio, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,⁣ sparked a flurry of concern in ‍Washington when he announced that his committee had information about a “serious national‌ security threat.” By Friday, President Joe Biden confirmed that Turner was referring to ⁢a new Russian nuclear anti-satellite capability. However, officials ‌have remained tight-lipped about the details, citing the highly classified nature of the ‌intelligence.

While the weapon is still under development​ and not yet in orbit, Biden administration officials have stressed its potential to cross a dangerous threshold ⁤in the history of nuclear weapons. If⁢ deployed, it could cause severe disruptions‍ to daily life‍ in unpredictable ways.

The weapon, known among military ⁣space experts as a ⁢nuclear electromagnetic pulse, would generate a pulse of electromagnetic energy and ‍a surge of highly charged particles that would disrupt other satellites orbiting Earth.

On Friday, Biden assured the public that there is “no nuclear threat to​ the people of America or anywhere ⁤else in the world with what Russia is doing at​ the moment.”

‘Potential to render large portions of specific orbits unusable’

“Anything ‍that⁤ they’re doing and/or they will do relates to satellites and space and ​damaging those satellites, ‍potentially,” he⁢ added.

The Defense Department and the intelligence community have ​been monitoring ⁣Russian‌ efforts to develop a range of anti-satellite⁢ weapons, including⁤ an⁢ electromagnetic pulse,‍ for‌ years.

Recent intelligence reports have specifically‍ highlighted ⁤Russia’s‌ efforts to develop nuclear-powered‍ anti-satellite ​capabilities, according to a defense official.

However,‌ Russia has‌ recently made ⁢strides in its efforts‌ to develop a nuclear electromagnetic pulse⁢ — a related⁣ but⁣ far ⁣more concerning technology.

“Our general knowledge‍ of Russian pursuit of this kind of capability goes back many,⁢ many months, if not a few years,” ‍National ⁣Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday.⁢ “But‌ only in recent weeks now has the intelligence community been able to ​assess with‌ a higher sense of confidence exactly how Russia continues to pursue it.”


It would be a ⁤violation of the Outer Space Treaty to which more‌ than⁣ 130 countries have signed up ‍to, ⁤including Russia.

–John Kirby, National Security Council spokesman


The intelligence community, Biden said, had “found out there was a⁢ capacity‌ to launch a⁤ system into space that could theoretically do something that⁣ was damaging” but ‍that it⁤ “hadn’t happened yet.”

“It’s not a ‍new concept and, as a ⁤concept, dates​ back to the late Cold⁢ War,” said one ​U.S.‍ official. However, they added, “the big fear with any eventual ⁣(electromagnetic ‍pulse) device in orbit (is)​ it might​ render large portions of particular orbits unusable” ⁤by creating a minefield of disabled‌ satellites that ⁢”would then prove dangerous to any new satellites we might ‌try‌ to put ‍up ⁢to replace or repair the existing satellites.”

The Office of⁤ the‌ Director of National Intelligence,​ the​ Defense ​Department, and the National⁢ Security Council all declined to comment.

It remains‍ unclear ⁤whether the device, as designed,‌ could impact GPS and nuclear command and control satellites, which operate in a higher orbit than‌ the vast constellation of commercial and government satellites in low-Earth orbit. These larger satellites are designed to withstand a nuclear blast, ⁣but a former top space official​ at the Pentagon told CNN ‍that “they could be vulnerable”⁣ depending on their proximity to the electromagnetic pulse, their age, and the size of the blast.

‘A weapon of ⁣last ‌resort’

Experts⁣ suggest that this ‌kind‌ of weapon could​ potentially⁢ wipe out mega-constellations of small satellites, like SpaceX’s Starlink, which ⁣has been successfully used by Ukraine in ⁤its ongoing ⁤war with Russia.

This would likely be “a last-ditch weapon” for‍ Russia, the U.S. official and other‍ sources said — because it would cause equal damage to any Russian satellites in​ the vicinity.

The state of the technology remains uncertain. Russia has‍ had ⁣several public failures with its nuclear technology in recent years. In 2019, seven Russians were‌ killed in a nuclear ‌accident while Moscow was attempting to recover a ‍nuclear-powered cruise missile that had crashed into the White Sea during a failed test.

However, a recent intelligence assessment on‍ Russian progress so⁤ alarmed ​some lawmakers on Capitol‍ Hill that Turner invited all members of the House to⁣ be ‌briefed on the matter.

Shortly​ after, he ⁢issued a vague public statement that brought the issue into the public eye.

Several sources familiar ⁣with the matter⁢ said that the exposure of⁤ the intelligence was extremely damaging because the source was incredibly sensitive. According to those sources, the intelligence community is now scrambling to⁤ figure out how to preserve its access.

Biden administration officials argue‌ that if Russia were to deploy a nuclear⁣ electromagnetic pulse, it would be the first-ever violation of⁤ the Outer Space Treaty‌ of ​1967, which‍ prohibits the placement of⁣ weapons of mass destruction in outer⁣ space.

“It ‍would be a ⁤violation of⁤ the Outer ‌Space Treaty to which ‍more ⁤than 130 countries have signed up to, including Russia,” Kirby said Thursday, without providing further details.

Russia has withdrawn from several arms control treaties⁣ in recent years, leaving the post-Cold War arms control architecture virtually dismantled.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Agree, good punctuation and grammar: This is a concerning development that could have major implications for global security.

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