Congress Limits Russian Sat Nav Monitor Stations in U.S.

“These ground monitor stations could be used to gather intelligence,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said.

“These ground monitor stations could be used to gather intelligence,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said. Rogelio V. Solis/AP

System would have to be installed by U.S. citizens.

Russia may not install satellite-monitoring ground stations in the United States unless construction, operation, and maintenance of those stations is managed by U.S. citizens, according to language in the 2014 Defense Authorization Act passed by the House last week and up for a Senate vote this week.

Russia in 2012 requested permission to install those stations to monitor the performance of its Global Navigation Satellite System, or GLONASS; the State Department still has that request under consideration. 

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., who helped author the GLONASS monitor station language, said last month he was concerned. “These ground monitor stations could be used to gather intelligence,” he said. “Even more troubling, these stations could actually improve the accuracy of foreign missiles targeted at the United States.”

The bill also mandates that the U.S. approve all gear installed in those stations, and “appropriate actions are taken to ensure that any such ground monitoring stations do not pose a cyber-espionage or other threat, including intelligence or counterintelligence, to the national security of the United States.”

Any data transmitted from those stations must be unencrypted, the bill said.

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