The Obama Administration came to office determined to “reset” U.S.-Russian relations. To that end, it pursued negotiations with Russia on a New Start Agreement as well as improved cooperation with the Kremlin on a host of topics, most recently Syrian chemical weapons demilitarization and Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
It is one thing for the U.S. government to pursue better relations and new arms control agreements with Russia. It is quite another for an agency of that government, the Department of State, to be actively helping the Russian military to target the U.S. homeland, Russian intelligence to spy on America and the Russian space industry to compete with our own.
At issue is State’s apparent willingness to support the construction by Russia’s space navigation system, GLONASS, of a half dozen ground reference stations on U.S. soil. GLONASS is the equivalent of America’s GPS system, which has both commercial and military applications. These ground stations will help GLONASS refine its positioning data making it a more significant competitor to the U.S. GPS and the Russian military a more potent threat.
The “reset” with Russia now includes Moscow routinely sending its Bear bombers on simulated attack missions against NATO, Japan and even the U.S. homeland. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin has committed an increasing share of his national budget to modernizing the Russian military. Central to this effort is equipping that military with advanced precision-guided weapons. GLONASS is critical to the attainment of such a capability. Why would the State Department want to help the Russian military become a more capable and lethal force?
The CIA is deeply concerned that these ground stations could be used for espionage. A lot of intelligence collection can be built into large stations with multiple antennas and radiating devices.
The Obama Administration needs to listen to the Pentagon and Intelligence Community, both of whom oppose State’s position on this issue. If the White House is unwilling to do the right thing with respect to U.S. commercial and security interests, Congress should step in and prohibit the construction of the GLONASS ground stations.
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