Update: According to sources with access to the intelligence, Russia is attempting to create a nuclear space weapon that will use massive energy waves to destroy satellites

by | Feb 17, 2024

Three sources with knowledge of the intelligence claim that Russia is attempting to develop a nuclear space weapon that, if detonated, would destroy satellites by producing an enormous energy wave that could cripple many commercial and government satellite systems that are used by people on the ground to communicate via cell phones, pay bills, and browse the internet.

Compared to what the US government has previously disclosed, these sources provided CNN with a more thorough understanding of what Russia is working on and the potential threat it poses.

Officials from the Biden administration have made it clear that the weapon is still being developed and is not yet in orbit. However, if used, according to officials, it would cross a precarious line in the development of nuclear weapons and could severely disrupt daily life in unpredictable ways.

This type of novel weapon, also referred to as a nuclear EMP by military space experts, would send shockwaves of highly charged particles and electromagnetic energy through space, causing other satellites orbiting Earth to be disrupted.

The House Intelligence Committee's chairman, Republican Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, sparked a frenzy in Washington on Wednesday when he claimed that his panel “had information regarding… serious national security threat. “Turner was referring to a new Russian nuclear anti-satellite capability by Friday, according to President Joe Biden, but officials have steadfastly refused to discuss it further due to the intelligence's high level of secrecy.

With what Russia is currently doing, Biden publicly emphasized on Friday that there is “no nuclear threat to the people of America or anywhere else in the world.”

He said that anything they do or will do has to do with satellites and space because it could potentially harm them.

Russian efforts to create a variety of anti-satellite weapons, including an EMP, have been closely monitored by the Defense Department and the intelligence community for years.

According to one defense official, there has also been a recent spate of intelligence reports that specifically focus on Russia's efforts to create nuclear-powered anti-satellite capabilities.

However, Russia's efforts to create a nuclear EMP—a related but much more concerning technology —have recently advanced.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said on Thursday that “our general knowledge of Russian pursuit of this kind of capability goes back many, many months, “if not years. However, the intelligence community has only recently been able to assess Russia's continued pursuit of it with greater assurance.

According to Biden, the intelligence community had “discovered the potential to launch a system into space that could theoretically do something damaging, “but it “hadn’t happened yet.”

One US official claimed that the idea is not brand-new and that it originated in the late Cold War. However, they claimed that “the main concern with any potential EMP device in orbit is that it might make large portions of specific orbits unusable” by producing a minefield of defunct satellites, which “would then prove dangerous to any new satellite we might try to erect to replace or repair the existing Satellites. “

The Defense Department, National Security Council, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence all remained silent.

The device's potential impact on GPS and nuclear command and control satellites, which fly in a higher orbit than the sizable constellation of commercial and government satellite whizzing through low-Earth orbit, was not immediately apparent.

Source: CNN

 

 

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