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Russia Developing Nuclear Anti-Satellite Capability

US has been idle while Moscow plans ways to destroy satellites in orbit with an atomic weapon.

In a gratuitous gesture of peace through weakness, less than two years ago, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the US would stop its anti-satellite test program. Even though China and Russia have such a program and other nations are working toward an anti-satellite capability, Harris boasted of the US taking the high ground in responsible use of outer space. Now, the US intelligence community has confirmed Russia’s aggressive development of a space-based nuclear anti-satellite program.

Americans can rest easy knowing the White House is on top of US national security and the use of space to keep its citizens safe – or not. In April 2022, Liberty Nation reported on the unilateral cancelation of the Department of Defense anti-satellite (ASAT) test program. “The decision to stop ASAT testing as a foreign policy will not dissuade Russia, or China, or any other country from following suit,” LN warned. “However, the effectiveness of space weapons capability is achieved through testing. Russia, China, India, and Israel understand the value of being able to hold an enemy’s space-based command, control, and communications at risk.” Apparently, the Biden administration doesn’t understand the concept.

President Biden and VP Harris committed to cease “destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing” to reduce the amount of space debris orbiting Earth. What the duo did not consider, however, was the debris generated by an enemy, like Russia, detonating a nuclear anti-satellite device. One can imagine that the resulting pieces of space junk would be significantly greater than individually targeted destructive direct-ascent ASAT missiles. Such a detonation would wipe a massive number of satellites from space.

Russia Did Not Stop Its Anti-Satellite Program

Fast-forward to a White House press briefing by National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on February 15 of this year in which he addressed the new Russian ASAT threat. Kirby explained the previously classified information on the Russian nuclear ASAT development program was made public by Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH) chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Kirby told the reporters:

“And though Russia’s pursuit of this particular capability is troubling, there is 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. That said, we’ve been closely monitoring this Russian activity, and we will continue to take it very seriously.”

New Banner Military AffairsIn a post to X on February 18, Chairman Turner wrote about his concern that the Biden administration was not on top of the Russian nuclear ASAT program. “We need to make certain that we avert what could be an international crisis. I was concerned that it appeared that the administration was sleepwalking into an international crisis. But it looks like now, they’re going to be able to take action,” Turner posted. Typical of what would be expected, the White House staff was more peeved about the information becoming public than the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin is developing the capability to wipe out US satellites with an atomic weapon in space.

According to reporting in The Hill, Mick Mulvaney, White House chief of staff, explained that he was “stunned” by Turner’s revelation. “If it was really serious, and it’s a clear and present danger, to use a legal term, then you certainly wouldn’t want it to be public,” Mulvaney said. Whoa! Did you catch the implication of that statement? If Russia had the nuclear ASAT it’s developing, the Biden administration wouldn’t want the American people to know it. Why? Historically, responsible US presidents wanted the public to be aware of threats, to be able to prepare, take precautions to prevent unwarranted alarmist overreaction and inform people to know what to do, if anything. It also instilled confidence in the public that their president and the administration were taking the necessary steps to keep them safe.

Keeping the ASAT Threat Secret

By contrast, it appears the Biden administration has known about this threat for some time but was not inclined to let the public in on it. It’s unclear whether the White House would ever tell the people about this threat. If you believe what Kirby said that there “is no immediate threat to anyone’s safety,” then there was no reason not to inform the American people. It looks more like the Biden national security team would keep the problem quiet and hope it would just go away.

Remember the Beijing spy balloon? Was it the Biden administration that told the American people a Chinese Communist Party intelligence and reconnaissance balloon was leisurely crossing the United States looking at military installations? No. Citizens in Montana saw the balloon and let the rest of the country know. Only then, when the cat was out of the bag, did the Biden administration acknowledge the event. Finally, after days of dithering, the administration shot the balloon down. But not before the Chinese had a panoramic view of a number of sensitive US defense installations.

The Biden national security organization has not been particularly skillful at handling crises; think Afghanistan. Resurrecting the US military’s anti-satellite test program would be somewhat reassuring. At least the US would understand the technical issues related to what Russia is building. But failing to tell the American people about the developing Russian nuclear anti-satellite threat is troubling. What else is the Biden administration not telling the people?

The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.

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