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US bars Russian GPS sites for spying fears: Report

29 December 2013 15:59

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The United States has barred Russia from building monitor stations on its soil for fears they could help Moscow spy on America, according to a report.

The measure was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Thursday, The New York Times reports.

Moscow first broached the idea of erecting the domed antenna structures inside the US nearly two years ago and insists they are designed to improve the accuracy of Russia’s version of the Global Positioning System (GPS), the American satellite network that steers guided missiles to their targets and helps passengers with navigation.

The State Department supported the Russian plan as a means to mend strained ties with Moscow.

However, congressional Republicans have been skeptical of Moscow’s motives and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon soon began waging a campaign to prevent Roscosmos, a major Russian space agency, from building the structures on US soil, the Times said.

The monitor stations have been a high priority of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin for years as a means to improve Moscow’s Global Navigation Satellite System known as Glonass.

Skeptical members of the intelligence and armed services committees in Congress intervened in recent weeks to destroy the prospect of Glonass stations on US soil.

Under the new law, unless the secretary of defense and the director of national intelligence verify to Congress that the monitor stations would not harm the US interests, the plan is scrapped.

“The idea was to make it next to impossible, if not impossible, to do this,” a House Republican aide told the Times on condition of anonymity. “We also took the State Department out of the loop since they were the ones who caused all the trouble in the first place.”

The relations between Russia and the United States have been severely strained since August when Moscow granted temporary asylum to American fugitive Edward Snowden who disclosed Washington’s global surveillance programs.

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