The CIA and Pentagon have been trying to halt a State Department plan to let Russia's space agency (Roscosmos) construct within the United States a handful of monitor stations, according to American officials, the New York Times reported.
The fear is that the stations could aid Russian efforts to spy on the U.S. and bolster the accuracy of Russian weaponry, the officials told the Times, adding that the Russians said the monitor stations would dramatically improve their version of the Global Positioning System.
The CIA and other U.S. spy agencies, along with the Pentagon, believe the monitor stations would provide Russia with better accuracy with weapons and an opening to spy on the U.S., the Times noted.
In addition members of Congressional intelligence and armed services committees regard Moscow’s GPS — a.k.a. Glonass (i.e., Global Navigation Satellite System) — with suspicion and want answers from the Obama administration.
“I would like to understand why the United States would be interested in enabling a GPS competitor, like Russian Glonass, when the world’s reliance on GPS is a clear advantage to the United States on multiple levels,” said Representative Mike D. Rogers, Republican of Alabama, the chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee.
The Times characterizes the State Department's willingness to let Russia build about a half dozen stations as a way to help repair President Obama's relationship with Vladimir V. Putin, which took a nosedive after Moscow granted asylum to Edward Snowden and supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Russian push in this direction is part of a larger global race by China and European Union nations, among others, the Times reported, to perfect their own GPS technology and challenge the dominance of the American GPS.
A former senior official in the State Department’s Office of Space and Advanced Technology told the Times that the Russians "don’t want to be reliant on the American system and believe that their systems, like GPS, will spawn other industries and applications. They feel as though they are losing a technological edge to us in an important market. Look at everything GPS has done on things like your phone and the movement of planes and ships.”
Administration officials have held off a final decision until the Russians give more information and U.S. agencies resolve differences, State Department and White House officials told the Times.
You can read the entire New York Times article here.
(H/T: Drudge Report)