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EDITORIAL: It's Time to Share U.S. Intelligence

Дата публикации: 31 декабря 2015
Публикатор: А. Комиссаров
Источник: (c) Moscow Times, 09-10-99
Номер публикации: №1451566834

Should the taxpayers of the United States shell out $200 million to help Russia launch satellites for use in spying on America?

After all of the evidence that international financial aid to Russia has gone wasted - at best - this sounds ludicrous. One can almost imagine snickers in the Kremlin: Maybe they'll even do it for us!

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office has recommended the United States pick up the tab for putting six Russian satellites in orbit, so as to give the Kremlin "24-hour coverage of U.S. missile fields."

The idea is that if the Kremlin can see we aren't launching a nuclear missile attack, they will feel more secure - and will be less likely to fall for false alarms.

That apparently almost happened in 1995: A research rocket launched off the coast of Norway caused Russia's rickety early warning system to shriek in alarm. The system concluded, in error, that Russia was under nuclear attack. Had the false alarm not been detected in time, this could have triggered a Russian nuclear counterstrike.

That, at least, is the story that has emerged in a handful of Western press reports. It is a frightening tale. And it is backed up by the testimony of U.S. scientists, who say Russia's early warning system is "an accident waiting to happen."

The Congressional Budget Office proposal can't be rejected out of hand. A properly structured deal - one that let U.S. experts confirm the nature of the satellites to be launched - might be an intelligent investment in nuclear safety. True, the Russian government could be making it themselves. But for whatever reason, they simply aren't.

However, this $200 million gift would only give Russia a view of nuclear launch sites in the United States - not China, not India and Pakistan, not Norway, and certainly not in the oceans, where nuclear missile-armed submarines can roam freely.

Concerned U.S. scientists originally proposed that Russia be given access to the U.S.'s early warning system. This would give them the most complete view of the world available - apparently for a much more modest price tag than the one attached to putting up a duplicate fleet of Russian satellite hardware.

U.S. Senate leaders balked at this idea, apparently because of the political ramifications of giving the Russians such "sensitive information." That's how the budget office study came about: Senators ordered up a study of other alternatives.

Nevertheless, of all the difficult choices on the table, sharing U.S. intelligence with other nations might be the smartest. It will make the world a safer, less jittery place. And it's certainly better than the current situation.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 31 декабря 2015 года

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