Intel: No arms treaty means U.S. may divert satellites to cover Russia

Senate under pressure to ratify New START

In the absence of a U.S.-Russian arms control treaty, the U.S. intelligence community is telling Congress it will need to focus more spy satellites over Russia that could be used to peer on other sites, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, to support the military.

The demand for these satellites – one component of the "national technical means," or NTM – has increased the urgency for the Obama administration to get the Senate to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in its lame-duck session.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, U.S. spy satellites began to shift focus from Russia onto sites such as Iraq, China, Pakistan and India. Today, spy satellites are trained on Iraq and Afghanistan.

"As the proliferation threat has grown over the past decade, as the terrorism threat has grown over the past decade and as the United States has been deploying troops in harm’s way over the last decade, there has been a decline in the priority assigned to Russian strategic forces by national technical means and at the same time there has been a decline in our overall NTM capabilities," said Paula DeSutter, former assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance and implementation between 2002 and 2009.

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