Russia to ask permission to fly surveillance planes over U.S.

WASHINGTON -- Russia will ask permission on Monday to start flying surveillance planes equipped with high-powered digital cameras amid warnings from U.S.

See Full Article

intelligence and military officials that such overflights help Moscow collect intelligence on the United States.

Russia and the United States are signatories to the Open Skies Treaty, which allows unarmed observation flights over the entire territory of all 34 member nations to foster transparency about military activity and help monitor arms control and other agreements. Senior intelligence and military officials, however, worry that Russia is taking advantage of technological advances to violate the spirit of the treaty.

Russia will formally ask the Open Skies Consultative Commission, based in Vienna, to be allowed to fly an aircraft equipped with high-tech sensors over the United States, according to a senior congressional staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the staff member wasn't authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

The request will put the Obama administration in the position of having to decide whether to let Russia use the high-powered equipment on its surveillance planes at a time when Moscow, according to the latest State Department compliance report, is failing to meet all its obligations under the treaty. And it comes at one of the most tension-filled times in U.S.-Russia relations since the end of the Cold War, with the two countries at odds over Russian activity in Ukraine and Syria.

"The treaty has become a critical component of Russia's intelligence collection capability directed at the United States," Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, wrote in a letter earlier this year to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of a House subcommittee on strategic forces.

"In addition to overflying military installations, Russian Open Skies flights can overfly and collect on Department of Defence and national security or national critical infrastructure," Haney said. "The vulnerability exposed by exploitation of this data and costs of mitigation are increasingly difficult to characterize."

A State Department official said Sunday that treaty nations had not yet received notice of the Russian request, but that certification of the Russian plane with a "digital electro-optical sensor" could not occur until this summer because the treaty requires a 120-day advance notification. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

The official also said that the treaty, which was entered into force in 2002, establishes procedures for certifying digital sensors to confirm that they are compliant with treaty requirements. The official said all signatories to the treaty agree that "transition from film cameras to digital sensors is required for the long-term viability of the treaty."

In December, Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, sought to temper concerns about Russian overflights, saying that what Moscow gains from the observation flights is "incremental" to what they collect through other means.

"One of the advantages of the Open Skies Treaty is that information -- imagery -- that is taken is shared openly among all the treaty parties," she said at a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees in December. "So one of the advantages with the Open Skies Treaty is that we know exactly what the Russians are imaging, because they must share the imagery with us."

Still, military and intelligence officials have expressed serious concern.

"The open skies construct was designed for a different era," Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, told lawmakers when asked about the Russian overflights during a congressional hearing. "I'm very concerned about how it's applied today."

Robert Work, deputy secretary of defence, told Congress: "We think that they're going beyond the original intent of the treaty and we continue to look at this very, very closely."

Steve Rademaker, former assistant secretary of state for the bureau of arms control and the bureau of international security and nonproliferation, told Congress at a hearing on security co-operation in Europe in October that Russia complies with the Open Skies Treaty, but has "adopted a number of measures that are inconsistent with the spirt" of the accord.

The treaty, for instance, obligates each member to make all of its territory available for aerial observation, yet Russia has imposed restrictions on surveillance over Moscow and Chechnya and near Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he said. Russian restrictions also make it hard to conduct observation in the Kaliningrad enclave, said Rademaker, who believes Russia is "selectively implementing" the treaty "in a way that suits its interests."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Public viewing of John Glenn in Ohio to extend for 8 hours

    Tech & Science CTV News
    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Members of the public will be given eight hours Friday to pay their respects to John Glenn as the late astronaut-hero lies in state at Ohio's capitol building. A spokesman said Saturday that Glenn would lie in repose in the Statehouse Rotunda from noon to 8 p.m. Source
  • The Last Guardian review: Fumito Ueda’s PS4 game a thing of beauty

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    Nine years is a long time to wait for something. And nine years is an especially long time to anticipate something, if you can appreciate the difference. The Last Guardian, out this week for the PlayStation 4, was officially announced nine years ago. Source
  • Down but not out: BlackBerry still has projects up its sleeve

    Tech & Science CTV News
    In spite of meager sales figures, BlackBerry could soon release a new smartphone, once again running Google's Android OS and with a physical keyboard. The firm has also developed an innovative Internet of Things security solution for business. Source
  • Samsung to disable Note 7 phones in recall effort

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Samsung announced Friday it would disable its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in the U.S. market to force remaining owners to stop using the devices, which were recalled for safety reasons. The South Korean electronics giant, the world's biggest smartphone vendor, said 93 percent of Note 7 phones in the United States had been returned to the company after its recall earlier this year, which came amid reports of devices exploding or catching fire. Source
  • Climate change film 'An Inconvenient Truth' gets a sequel

    Tech & Science CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - Al Gore's climate change documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," is getting a sequel. Paramount Pictures said Friday the follow-up to the Oscar-winning original will premiere at next January's Sundance Film Festival. In the new documentary, former Vice-President Gore examines global warming's escalation and the solutions at hand, Paramount said. Source
  • 'This game is not over yet:' Arctic researcher has hope we can turn corner on climate change

    Tech & Science CBC News
    John England, the Canadian scientist who this week won the $50,000 Weston Family prize for northern research, compares the Arctic to a "great behavioural bath" — in which immersion can help one shed the accumulated "barnacles" of modern life. Source
  • World's oldest seabird, a 66-year-old albatross, expecting chicks

    Tech & Science CTV News
    This Nov. 28, 2015 photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows the world's oldest known seabird, Wisdom, right, tending to an egg she laid, with her mate, at Midway Atoll, a wildlife refuge about 1,200 miles northwest of Honolulu. Source
  • Scientists hunt for carbon monoxide poisoning antidote

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Scientists are on the trail of a potential antidote for carbon monoxide poisoning, an injected "scavenger" that promises to trap and remove the gas from blood within minutes. It's very early-stage research — but a reminder that, however it turns out, there are steps people should take now to protect themselves from this silent killer. Source
  • Virtual reality a sickening experience

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A new study has found that many people — especially women — who use virtual reality 3D goggles, experience motion sickness after 15 minutes of use. As the technology becomes more common, wearers will have to adapt to the new sensations the way sailors and astronauts do on the seas and in space. Source
  • Third-ever natural quasicrystal found in Siberian meteorite

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Scientists have discovered an incredibly rare and unusual crystal, known as a quasicrystal, in a meteorite previously found in Siberia in 2011. While there are over 100 lab-made quasicrystals, this crystal, identified in a new paper published Thursday in Scientific Reports, is the first quasicrystal to be found in naturethat wasn’t previously also discovered in a lab. Source