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CNN: Satellite safety at risk as Russia develops nuclear space weapon

Russia is developing a nuclear space weapon that could destroy satellites and disrupt global communications, CNN reported, citing sources familiar with US intelligence.
Russia nuclear strike
Russia test launches a ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile as part of exercises involving the country’s strategic nuclear forces. (file photo)
CNN: Satellite safety at risk as Russia develops nuclear space weapon

Russia is attempting to develop a nuclear space weapon capable of destroying satellites and causing widespread disruptions, CNN reported. According to three sources familiar with US intelligence, the weapon would create a massive energy wave when detonated, potentially crippling a vast array of commercial and government satellites essential for communication and internet services.

Earlier, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announced that a meeting with congressmen regarding the classified security threat is scheduled for 15 February without specifying whether the meeting pertains to Russia’s intentions to launch nuclear weapons into space.

The weapon, still under development and not yet in orbit, poses a serious national security threat, as stated by Republican Rep. Mike Turner, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. President Joe Biden confirmed the existence of this new Russian nuclear anti-satellite capability but emphasized that there is no immediate nuclear threat to the public.

Military space experts refer to this type of weapon as a nuclear EMP (electromagnetic pulse), which would generate a pulse of electromagnetic energy and a flood of highly charged particles to disrupt satellites in orbit. The US Defense Department and the intelligence community have been tracking Russian efforts to develop anti-satellite weapons, including an EMP, for years.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby acknowledged that the US has known about Russia’s pursuit of this capability for some time, but only recently has the intelligence community assessed the progress with higher confidence. The potential deployment of such a weapon could violate the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which bans the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in outer space.

The development of a nuclear EMP by Russia raises concerns about the safety of GPS and nuclear command and control satellites, as well as the potential to disable large portions of satellite constellations like SpaceX’s Starlink.

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