Moscow ridicules suggestions it will launch nuclear weapon into space

Moscow ridicules suggestions it will launch nuclear weapon into space
/ bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews February 19, 2024

Moscow has denied reports that it is planning to launch a nuclear weapon into space, describing claims made by US media as "malicious” and "unfounded.” 

According to the Kremlin, the release of this intelligence is a ploy to try to pass a Ukrainian aid package, which is currently stuck in the House of Representatives due to disagreements presented by the Republican Party. 

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, President Joe Biden and his Democrat allies are "trying to get Congress to vote on the appropriations bill any way it can.”

On February 14, American news outlets, citing multiple sources in the intelligence community, reported that Russia is attempting to deploy a nuclear anti-satellite system in space. According to the intelligence, the anti-satellite system is still under development and not yet operational in orbit. Some in Washington have expressed fears that such a system could significantly jeopardise US nuclear command and control satellites, essential for maintaining control over the nation's nuclear arsenal.

This intelligence was briefed to Congress and key US allies, with some politicians like Representative Mike Turner publicly claiming that it should be declassified and made public. However, multiple members of Congress also came out to say that, while concerning, it is no immediate threat to the US or its interests.

“The classified intelligence product that the House Intelligence Committee called to the attention of Members last night is a significant one, but it is not a cause for panic,” said Jim Himes, a Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee.

Russia’s ambition for a counter-space system has long been known. In 2020, Moscow launched an anti-satellite weapon into a space, destroying a small, obsolete satellite as part of a test. According to a 2022 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, the US believes Russia wants to develop weapons to target enemy satellites from the ground, air and space. However, the deployment of any nuclear-armed system in space is banned under The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which prohibits “any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction” in orbit.