Canada briefed on intelligence White House says concerned about Russian weapon – National

Canada has been briefed on U.S. intelligence that the White House publicly confirmed Thursday related to Russia’s “troubling” development of an anti-satellite weapon, a senior government official told Global News.

The official spoke on background to confirm the intelligence briefing that has not yet been declassified by the United States.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said U.S. intelligence officials had information that Russia had obtained the capability, but that such a weapon was not currently operational. . He said U.S. officials were analyzing the intelligence and had consulted with allies and partners on the issue.

“First, this is not an active capability that has been deployed and while Russia’s pursuit of this particular capability is troubling, there is no immediate threat to anyone’s security.” , Kirby said. “We are not talking about a weapon that can be used to attack human beings or cause physical destruction here on Earth.”

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The development of this weapon nonetheless presents a threat to national and global security, Kirby said, because it would have the ability to disrupt satellite networks used for everything from communications to military logistics. He did not confirm reports that the weapon would have nuclear capabilities, but said it would be based in space.

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The Department of National Defense referred questions from Global News on intelligence to Defense Minister Bill Blair’s comments to CBC News Thursday, where he said he had been assured that “further clarification” would come from the United States.

“There are obviously concerns about this in the United States,” he said in an interview from Brussels, where he was attending a meeting with NATO defense ministers.

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“We are in discussions with our allies and are very happy with the sharing of information, but I think it is more appropriate to leave it to (the United States) to comment on their intelligence and the response to it.”

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A spokesperson for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said the agency “cannot comment on the nature or substance of closed meetings held with its partners” but that U.S. and Canadian intelligence officials are “consulting regularly on national security issues.

The White House confirmed the intelligence after a vague statement was issued Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warning of a “serious threat to national security.” The statement urged the Biden administration to declassify intelligence, which he said he and other leaders of the Congressional National Security Committee had viewed.

This statement led to several US media reports revealing that the threat involved a Russian anti-satellite weapon that could be deployed in space and armed with nuclear capabilities. The reports cite anonymous sources who were briefed on the intelligence.

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Kirby said Thursday that the process of reviewing and declassifying information about Russian capabilities was underway when Turner “unfortunately” issued his statement. This process includes informing allies and partners, as well as working with the intelligence community to ensure that declassified language does not reveal the sources behind the intelligence.

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“We have been very careful and thoughtful about what we decide to declassify, downgrade and share with the public,” he added.

In a new statement Thursday who appeared to defend his actions, Turner said his committee had worked with the Biden administration to brief Congress on the intelligence and that the language used to do so had been authorized by the White House, which acknowledged the matter was ” serious.”

The statement, however, did not explain why his first public warning did not contain any specific information about the threat or whether he was authorized to do so.

Lawmakers from both parties criticized Turner’s actions, saying he caused unnecessary panic.

Republican Rep. Andy Ogles sent a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson on Thursday demanding a formal investigation into Turner’s actions, suggesting without evidence that his intent was “not to ensure the security of our homeland and the American people, but rather to ensure greater security.” financing for Ukraine.

“This act constitutes at minimum a lack of judgment and a complete abuse of trust influenced at maximum by the pursuit of a political agenda,” Ogles said in the letter obtained by Global News.

This argument was also used by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that the allegations were intended to “force Congress to pass the bill by hook or by crook.” on aid (to Ukraine). »

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Peskov also downplayed American concerns about this capability.

Turner is among the most vocal Republicans in favor of increasing aid to Ukraine, an issue that divides his party which controls the House of Representatives. Johnson said he would not bring to a vote a Senate-passed national security funding bill that provides $60 billion for Ukraine.

The space capability would violate an international space treaty to which more than 130 countries have signed, including Russia, Kirby said.

He added that the Biden administration is seeking to engage directly with the Russians on these concerns, which are part of the intelligence declassification process.

Asked to respond to Peskov’s comments about the motivation behind releasing the information, Kirby simply responded: “That’s bullshit.”

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-with files from the Associated Press

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