Russia’s Antisatellite Technology Poses No Immediate Threat, White House Says

By John Mercury February 18, 2024

A White House spokesman said on Thursday that antisatellite technology being developed by Russia had not been deployed and posed “no immediate threat to anyone’s safety.”

“We are not talking about a weapon that can be used to attack human beings or cause physical destruction here on earth,” the spokesman, John F. Kirby, told reporters.

Mr. Kirby also pushed back on calls from Republicans to broadly declassify intelligence related to the weapon, which came to light on Wednesday in part after a cryptic message by Representative Michael R. Turner, Republican of Ohio and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

But on Thursday, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser; Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence; and a representative from the Pentagon told the leaders of the House, its intelligence committee and other national security panels said they had plans to divulge more information about what Mr. Turner called a “Russian antisatellite weapon.”

“The administration has the belief that along this way they’re going to be releasing additional information,” Mr. Turner said, “but in the interim, I’ve got great faith in what the administration is currently doing to address this matter.”

Speaker Mike Johnson noted that senior members of Congress had been made aware of the matter in January, and that he had subsequently requested, in writing, to speak to President Biden about it — a meeting that has not yet materialized.

He also noted that a Russian antisatellite weapon posed the sort of threat that the United States could not “rely on other nations to handle.”

But both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Turner offered rare approval of the Biden administration, expressing confidence in the steps it is taking to address the threat.

“There’s steady hands at the wheel,” Mr. Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, told reporters after the briefing.

“The bottom line is that we all came away with a very strong impression that the administration is taking this very seriously and that the administration has a plan in place,” Mr. Turner added.

After Mr. Turner’s announcement, current and former officials briefed on the matter said Russia was believed to be making advances on a new, space-based nuclear weapon designed to threaten America’s extensive satellite network.

Mr. Biden is receiving regular briefings, and the White House had “serious concerns” about declassifying all of the information that had been gathered about the weapon, Mr. Kirby said. He added that the weapon was space-based and that it did not have a component that could be used to disarm or attack structures in space from the ground.

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