House Intel chair warns of ‘Cuban missile crisis in space’ with Russia

House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) warned of a “Cuban missile crisis in space” if Russia launches a nuclear weapon into orbit, a threat that Turner and the U.S. have repeatedly warned about.

Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International studies (CSIS) event Thursday, Turner said if Russia were to detonate a nuclear space weapon in low-Earth orbit, it would threaten economic and social systems in a “catastrophic and devastating attack.”

“This crisis is the Cuban missile crisis in space,” he said, referencing the 1962 event when Russia had briefly staged nuclear missiles in Cuba. “The [Biden] administration is sleepwalking into an irreversible Day Zero.”

Turner first warned of an unprecedented national security threat in February, which prompted the Biden administration to publicly announce that Russia was developing a nuclear space weapon that it may launch into orbit.

If Russia were to do so, it would violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty prohibiting weapons of mass destruction from being deployed in space, a treaty that Moscow has signed.

The U.S. has tried to take action reaffirming the Outer Space Treaty at the United Nations Security Council but was blocked by Russia earlier this year. Russia, in turn, has tried to pass a resolution in the council banning all weapons from being deployed in space, a measure that was also defeated.

The Biden administration warned last month that Russia has launched an antisatellite weapon into space, which may be the first stage of a plan to deploy a nuclear weapon into orbit.

Turner called on the Biden administration to answer more questions about the nuclear space weapon, saying it was “failing” to address the issue.

“Day Zero can be avoided. Imagine how different the world would have been if [then-President John F.] Kennedy had allowed [then-Soviet Union leader Nikita] Khrushchev to place nuclear weapons in Cuba,” Turner said. “Europe would not be free. The United States would have been too fearful to challenge Russia in Europe.”

Turner said the White House should declassify the status of Russia’s nuclear weapons, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin “thrives in secrecy,” and called for Western security alliance NATO to enforce the Outer Space Treaty.

“The United States must stand with our allies to stop Day Zero,” Turner said, “and preserve space as the U.N. Outer Space Treaty intended for the betterment of all mankind.”

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.