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

  • Why this conservation group thinks soiled undies are a good thing

    Tech & Science CTV News
    One of the best things about summer is the fresh selection of fruits and vegetables available throughout the warm months. But a strange crop with far less nutritional value has a Canadian conservation group excited for the season. Source
  • Rising right whale death toll could be "catastrophic": marine biologist

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MONCTON, N.B. - A marine mammal expert says the fate of critically endangered species could hang in the balance as the death toll of North Atlantic right whales found floating in the Gulf of St. Source
  • Giant sequoia move on schedule in Idaho, tree doing well

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BOISE, Idaho -- A massive Idaho tree that grew over more than a century from a seedling sent by a noted naturalist has been uprooted and is poised to travel about two blocks Sunday to a new location. Source
  • Medical marijuana woos four-legged fans

    Tech & Science CTV News
    It's early morning, just after breakfast, and six-year-old Cayley is wide awake, eagerly anticipating her daily dose of cannabis. The black labrador, tail wagging, laps up the liquid tincture owner Brett Hartmann squirts into her mouth, a remedy he uses morning and evening to help alleviate Cayley's anxiety. Source
  • Fisheries Dept. dispatches aircraft, boats to study right whale deaths

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MONCTON, N.B. - Fisheries officials are trying to figure out what caused the recent deaths of several endangered right whales in the waters off eastern Canada. The Fisheries Department is raising concern about the deaths of at least five North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Source
  • Surge in unexplained right whale deaths prompts government response

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MONCTON, N.B. -- The federal fisheries department is trying to figure out what caused the recent deaths of several endangered right whales in the waters off eastern Canada. A fisheries official says at least five North Atlantic right whales were found dead in the Gulf of St. Source
  • Panda mania hits Germany as Meng Meng, Jiao Qing arrive

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Germany was bracing for panda mania as furry ambassadors arrive from China on Saturday, destined for a new life as stars of Berlin's premier zoo. The pair, named Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, will be jetting in on a special Lufthansa cargo plane, accompanied by two Chinese panda specialists, the Berlin Zoo's chief vet and a tonne of bamboo. Source
  • Google to stop scanning Gmail for ad targeting

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Google said Friday it would stop scanning the contents of Gmail users' inboxes for ad targeting, moving to end a practice that has fueled privacy concerns since the free email service was launched. A Google statement said Gmail users would still see "personalized" ads and marketing messages but these would be based on other data, which may include search queries or browsing habits. Source
  • It's worth the drive to totality: perspectives from an eclipse chaser: Bob McDonald

    Tech & Science CBC News
    August 21st is going to be an insane day across the United States as millions of people gather along a thin line that stretches from coast to coast to watch the moon pass directly in front of the sun in a total solar eclipse. Source
  • Dutch invent phone app to stop kids texting on bikes

    Tech & Science CTV News
    In the bike-mad Netherlands, the national phone company is developing a smart way to stop kids texting while cycling -- a growing cause of teenage accidents. A new app from phone company KPN will block internet and phone signals to a cyclist's smartphone while they are in the saddle. Source