Biden admin was working behind closed doors to dissuade Russia from testing space weapon

One reason U.S. officials didn’t widely disseminate intelligence about Russia’s efforts to develop a new space weapon: The administration was trying to start talks to convince Russia to back off the program.

Senior intelligence and administration officials had been reaching out to Russia — along with India and China as possible intermediaries — about the project for weeks before it became public, according to a U.S. official and a person familiar with the outreach.

The intelligence indicated that Russia might be planning to start tests of the device — a space-based antisatellite weapon with nuclear capabilities, the people said. Both were granted anonymity to speak about ongoing sensitive negotiations with Moscow.

The two people said that the administration had been worried that if the program became more widely known in Congress or in the public, that might scuttle the nascent efforts to get Russia to abort those tests. The Biden administration had also worried, they said, that if the details of the intelligence were revealed, the source of that information might dry up.

The disclosures provide the Biden administration’s rebuttal to those arguing that they were too slow to make Russia’s effort more widely known.



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