The red telephone.

Stop Sign

US officials are warning Russia to hold back on launching its allegedly nuclear-powered anti-satellite weapon, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Per the report, the US is arguing that the controversial spacecraft would violate the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which clearly states that nations “shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner.” The Russian weapon, believed to be designed to destroy satellites by emitting massive energy waves, would certainly check that box.

Officials have also reportedly told Moscow that the mysterious device would threaten America’s national security interests. Considering that the modern world is effectively propped up by satellite technology, that feels about right.

According to the WSJ, the warnings come as President Biden looks to rally international opposition to the weapon among allies and fellow G-7 nations. Diplomatic efforts are said to include approaching Russia-allied nations India and China — a rare opportunity, it seems, for anti-Russia cooperation between the US and China.

“There are so few spaces of possible strategic alignment for the US and China at Russia’s expense,” one unnamed US official told the WSJ. “This is one of them.”

Dial M for Moscow

According to the WSJ, an unnamed US official claimed that CIA Director William Burns “reached out” to Russian intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin, though it’s unclear what any discussions fully entailed. And though most details about the weapon remain classified, lawmakers including Republican Mike Turner — who first alerted the public to a possible national security threat last week in a cryptic demand that Biden declassify information about a possibly “destabilizing foreign military capacity” — seem overall pleased with the Biden administration’s plan to halt any space weapon launches.

“We all came away with a very strong impression that the administration is taking this very seriously,” Turner, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, told the WSJ following a classified briefing with top US intelligence figures, “and that the administration has a plan in place.”

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued to deny that the weapon exists at all.

“We not only call for the observance of the existing agreements that we have in this area,” Putin recently told Russian state media in response to the US allegations, as translated by The New York Times, “but we have proposed many times to strengthen these joint efforts.”

If one thing’s for sure, it’s that tensions between Washington and Moscow are continuing to heat up — and considering that this is an election year, it’s a situation well worth paying close attention to.

More on the Russian anti-satellite spacecraft: Russia May Be Launching Nuclear Space Weapon Soon, Officials Warn


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