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White House to brief lawmakers after Russia nuclear space reports

US had 'nothing to do' with Iran consulate strike in Syria: W.House
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US President Joe Biden’s national security chief will brief top lawmakers Thursday after they warned of a “serious” threat reportedly involving a Russian bid to build a space-based nuclear capability.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will hold a closed-doors meeting with congressional leaders, as US media said Russia was developing a weapon that could knock out Western satellites.

Moscow denied the “malicious” and “unfounded” reports, describing them as a White House ploy to try to pass a multi-billion-dollar Ukrainian war aid package stalled in Congress.

Mystery and concern has gripped Washington since House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Turner issued a public statement on Wednesday referring to a “serious national security threat” and calling on Biden to “declassify all information relating to this threat.”

American media outlets, citing unnamed officials, later reported the threat involved Russia advancing plans to deploy a nuclear weapon based in space that could target satellites.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking on a visit to Albania, would not give details on the nature of the threat but said it was not yet “active.”

“This is not an active capability, but it is a potential one that we’re taking very, very seriously,” he told a press conference.

“I expect that we’ll have more to say very soon,” he said, adding the United States was discussing the threat with its allies.

US officials have said the threat is not one that could target humans, but that it was significant.

They also pointed to comments by Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson saying there was “no need for public alarm.”

But the sudden announcement irked the White House’s Sullivan, who signaled frustration that Turner had gone public ahead of a briefing already planned for Thursday.

Sullivan said he would be meeting with the four House members in the “Gang of Eight” group of party leaders and top intelligence committee members.

He refused to confirm he would discuss the security threat, but pointed to the significance by saying it was “highly unusual, in fact,” for the national security advisor to “personally” reach out to House members as he had.

Democrat Biden and the Republican-led House are at an impasse over a White House request for $60 billion in military aid to help Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion entering its third year.

Johnson — who has repeatedly warned he will not address allies’ security until America’s immigration system is shored up — is refusing to bring the Senate-passed bill to the floor for a vote.

Moscow dismissed the threat warning as a US attempt to denigrate Russia and push through the Ukraine funding.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the White House was “trying to get Congress to vote on the appropriations bill any way it can”, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

“It’s obvious. Let’s see what tricks, so to speak, the White House is going to pull,” he was quoted as saying.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who is involved in Russia’s nuclear policy, said the United States was “fantasizing” and should provide evidence of its claims.

The West has accused Russia of reckless nuclear rhetoric after President Vladimir Putin said he was prepared to use a nuclear weapon if he felt an existential threat.

The Outer Space Treaty, of which both Russia and the United States are parties to, bans the deployment of nuclear weapons in space.

The row meanwhile came as Putin said he preferred the “predictable” Biden over Donald Trump in November’s US presidential election.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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