Source Breaking Defense

The Biden administration is taking to the bully pulpit to voice its conviction that Russia is moving to put a nuclear weapon in space designed to destroy satellites — with a senior State Department official for the first time today explaining that the concern is centered on a specific satellite development Moscow claims is aimed at testing electronics.
“The United States is extremely concerned that Russia may be considering the incorporation of nuclear weapons into its counterspace programs, based on information deemed credible,” Mallory Stewart, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Arms Control, Deterrence, and Stability, told the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“The United States has been aware of Russia’s pursuit of this sort of capability dating back years, but only recently have we been able to make a more precise assessment of their progress. Russia has publicly claimed that their satellite is for scientific purposes,” she said.
“However, the orbit is in a region not used by any other spacecraft — that in itself was somewhat unusual. And the orbit is in a region of higher radiation than normal lower Earth orbits, but not high enough of a radiation environment to allow accelerated testing of electronics as Russia has described the purpose to be,” Stewart elaborated.
Like other Biden administration officials before her, Stewart rushed to assure listeners that this “is not an active capability that has already been deployed. Although Russia’s pursuit of this capability is deeply troubling, there’s no imminent threat.”
And similarly to those officials, she would not characterize the potential timeframe in which Moscow might be able to deploy that capability.
Russia’s April 24 veto of a UN Security Council resolution to reaffirm the 1967 Outer Space Treaty’s bar on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in space crafted by the US and Japan seemly has set the Biden administration free with its criticism of the alleged plan. (Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a blanket denial of any such intent.)
The US-Japan resolution marked the first time the issue of outer space security has been put before the UNSC — although debate has been ongoing for decades in other UN bodies.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on April 25 issued a statement confirming the Biden administration’s belief that Russia is pursuing a nuclear ASAT, and raising questions about Moscow’s rationale for its veto.
And on May 1, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb in written testimony to the House Armed Services Committee doubled down on the accusation, which in fact was first leaked by Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee.