WH Calls House Intel Chair's Comments About Russian Space Nuke Program "Irresponsible"

Authored by Andrew Thornebrooke via The Epoch Times,

The White House is rebuking a congressman from Ohio for allegedly politicizing the nation’s response to a Russian nuclear weapons program.

On June 20, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had gone against the wishes of the intelligence community in publicizing the existence of a Russian program to develop a nuclear anti-satellite weapon.

“Publicizing this highly-sensitive intelligence was highly irresponsible, and it was something that the intelligence community themselves had serious concerns with,” Mr. Kirby told reporters.

Mr. Kirby’s comments followed a speech by Mr. Turner earlier in the day, in which the congressman claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “reassembling the Soviet Union” and that the Biden administration was “incapable” of preventing it from deploying more nuclear weapons.

Should Moscow succeed in its attempts to deploy a space-based nuclear weapon, Mr. Turner said that it could be used to destroy the whole of the low-orbit infrastructure, including the satellites that are relied on for vital systems such as GPS.

“This crisis is the Cuban missile crisis in space and the administration is failing,” Mr. Turner said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

“This would be a catastrophic and devastating attack upon Western economic and democratic systems. Vladimir Putin knows this. Checkmate.

Moscow has denied it is attempting to deploy nuclear weapons in space.

Despite his initial warning about the “possible immediate impact” of the threat, Mr. Turner later said that there was no evidence to suggest the system was very far into development.

Likewise, Mr. Turner did not answer a request to clarify what made this weapon system qualitatively different from others—given that Russia has had the ability to detonate a nuclear weapon in space via ballistic missile for decades.

Mr. Kirby said that the congressman was “just flat out wrong” about the Biden administration’s response to Russia’s weapon program and that the United States has been engaged with international partners and Russia itself on the issue for several months.

“We’ve been working this particular problem set from every possible angle, including through intense diplomacy with countries around the world, and obviously through direct conversations with Russia,” Mr. Kirby said.

“We’re going to continue our efforts to dissuade Russia from putting a nuclear weapon into orbit. We’re going to do everything possible to prevent that outcome.”

Mr. Turner first revealed the existence of a grave “national security threat” in February, following classified congressional intelligence briefings on the matter.

He subsequently led a political campaign to pressure the Biden administration to declassify the existence of Russia’s attempt to create a space-based nuclear anti-satellite weapon.

Mr. Kirby previously said that declassifying all information about the program, which Mr. Turner has requested, would risk revealing key sources of U.S. intelligence.

Mr. Turner, however, claimed that the administration was “avoiding having to admit they’re not really doing anything.”

“This is not a priority of the administration. This needs to be a priority.”

In response, Mr. Kirby said that Mr. Turner’s public comments had prevented the United States from pursuing the most effective and direct means of halting its development.

“We had assessed that starting private engagement rather than immediately publicizing the intelligence would have been a much more effective approach,” Mr. Kirby said.

“This is a national security issue, and quite frankly, it’s not something that anyone should be playing politics one way or the other.”

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Originally Posted at; https://www.zerohedge.com//