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`We Will Produce Strategic Nuclear Forces.'
That Is Probably What Those Who Have Embarked on the Reform of the Soviet Nuclear Triad Think....

Moscow ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA 28 Mar 95 First Edition p 7
"Viewpoint" article by Sergey Ptichkin

The transition from the Soviet Army to the Russian Army is a complex process which has been largely painful and affects each Russian, since it is paid for out of taxpayers' pockets -- in other words, out of all of our pockets. We are entitled to occasionally inquire just who is spending our rubles in what way, and to what extent are the trillions borrowed from the people providing at least strategic security for that same people.

There is no disputing the fact that our strategic might is based on the Strategic Missile Forces [SMF], which were integrated in a highly complex way not only throughout Soviet territory but also in the defense sectors of the industries of all the republics of the former Union. It was these troops that embodied the nuclear missile might of the Soviet superpower for the past 35 years.

But the SMF Command found its feet almost immediately in the changed situation in the country following the USSR's collapse and, while other branches of service were only just embarking on Russian military organizational development, reported that a national (!) program for the development of Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces [SNF] had been taken conceived, elaborated, and begun to be implemented -- a program which will end in the year 2005 with Russia being defended by "Topol" missiles. To what extent does their program accord with Russia's national strategic interests?

The Russian Federation's SNF triad includes aviation, naval, and ground force strike forces but, unlike the United States, where all components of the nuclear triad are subordinate to a single command which balances them without discrimination and solely in the interests of the United States, we have three commands that are independent of each other. Historically, the main role has been played by the SMF, which were the core of the organizational development of the USSR's strategic forces. Any request they may have made was essentially met forthwith. As a result of the same historical continuity, the development of the Russian Federation's SNF has also been geared almost exclusively to the SMF. Without philosophizing, the missile forces took as the basis of the "national program" the provisions of the well-known START agreements, which were drawn up in the "old Soviet" era.

Have these been amended to take account of the enormous changes that have taken place in the world over the past few years or in the light of the country's severe economic position? It is hard to answer that question in the affirmative, since a different tendency -- to report as quickly as possible -- is obvious. Otherwise, how can we explain the fact that agreements which have not yet legally come into force are being implemented and even over-implemented, effectively bypassing Russian legislation?

Here, for instance, is what KRASNAYA ZVEZDA wrote in the article "Missiles Changing Residence" on 17 March this year: "The Russian side effectively embarked on the implementation of the START I Treaty long before this document came into force (?!). When it became known that on 5 December 1994 the START I Treaty had finally come into force, a celebration was under way at a missile base to honor top specialists who had distinguished themselves in the dismantling of RS-20 missiles."

Back in August 1994 IZVESTIYA (No. 159) informed us with all the technological details about how the SMF was fully implementing the unratified START II Treaty, which to this very day is the subject of disputes about whether it is actually in Russia's interests. What are the people's elected representatives making a fuss about? Why all these heated debates in the Federal Assembly? We have the "SMF empire" which is itself both a legislature and an executive.

The most amazing thing about this situation is the fact that some people are in a very great hurry to cut all Russian missiles by the deadline that was agreed with the Americans but has not yet been enshrined in law. So in whose interests are we acting -- those of the United States or of Russia? Overseas the military do not take a single step without looking over their shoulders at the Senate -- nobody would dream of implementing essentially illegal agreements. But this situation is entirely natural over here. Perhaps because they have a rule-of-law state where the law reigns supreme and national interests are sacrosanct. But here, it seems, the military are scared that the Americans will get cross if, owing to its poverty or disorganization, Russia is unable to destroy a certain number of missiles by, I repeat, an unlegalized deadline....

There is one other paradox in the "national" program -- which missiles are being destroyed and which are being developed for the benefit of Russia. Nuclear missiles are seen as a deterrent, and a sensible balance of such weapons is in the world's interests.

Unfortunately, there are too many nuclear weapons in the world so, naturally, we need to gradually rid ourselves of them. It might be assumed that the national SNF program would be geared to the removal from combat duty and the recycling primarily of the most dangerous and costly nuclear munitions in service. But the cuts have begun with the silo-based MIRVed ICBM's that are the world's cheapest to operate, safest in long-term storage, and most powerful -- precisely those which ensure strategic deterrence. The ones to be developed will be the Topol mobile missile systems -- which are costlier in every respect and far more dangerous to operate and store.

The references to START are very dubious in this instance. The MIRVed ICBM's to be destroyed under the treaties are coming to the end of their guaranteed service life. By the year 2005 they would in any case be decommissioned without putting any particular strain on the budget, since expenditure on this kind of recycling is planned in advance. What would be done then -- either replacing the decommissioned ICBM's with new missiles, or using the empty silos for peaceful purposes -- would depend on the prevailing situation at the start of the next millennium, including the stance adopted by the United States and China vis-a-vis Russia. Does this really run counter to the fatherland's state interests?

But the "national" SNF program calls for the destruction of MIRVed ICBM's to a very tight deadline, which will require additional expenditure. And -- particularly hard to comprehend from the standpoint of national interests -- the newly empty silos will be completely destroyed. Yet each of them is a complex piece of engineering that is ideally suited to the long-term storage of all kinds of toxic waste without any harmful impact on the environment. Why spend large amounts of money to blow up -- and thereby pollute the environment -- hundreds of potential burial sites for industrial waste, when we are facing an increasingly acute problem when it comes to the recycling and storage of such waste? Can even any tracts of concern for our state's strategic security in all its diversity -- not only its nuclear missile aspect -- really be discerned in this?

Instead of MIRVed ICBM's, the land-based SMF is taking as its basis and beginning the intensified development of Topol mobile land-based missile systems, which are the subject of a hype campaign that stands comparison with the "MMM" Joint-Stock Company. But many independent experts are claiming that, by abandoning silo-based missiles and switching to the Topol system, the SMF is actually reducing its combat capability in terms of certain indicators by a factor of...thousands. So what guarantee is there that the missiles, named by their designers for by no means the strongest variety of wood, can reliably defend Russia? The same experts make the well-argued point that the Topols are a greater danger for the state than any missiles that may be aimed at us.

The wise Americans have long since realized that the threat of nuclear missile war is more theoretical than practical, whereas the huge amounts of nuclear munitions stockpiled on your own territory constitute a definite and direct threat every second. The United States is currently doing everything to rid its territory of as many nuclear warheads as possible. Emphasis in the truly national program for the development of U.S. strategic nuclear forces is placed on delivery vehicles which can be located outside the United States -- primarily aboard nuclear submarines. But our strategic nuclear submarine fleet is encountering obstructions, and the nuclear mining of our own territory is being continued with enviable stubbornness. And what is the result?

Whereas previously the location of SMF units was a closely guarded secret, today they are known to everyone from open-source articles. For instance, there are 36 Topol launchers stationed near Moscow in the population center of Teykovo. The systems, which are supposed to be mobile, never go anywhere and are virtually all housed in hangers at their main base. Three divisions of rail-mobile missile systems whose missiles have a cumulative yield of 100 megatons have long since lost their mobility, on the orders of General Secretary M. Gorbachev, and trundle around in the open air at sites a few square kilometers in area. To all intents and purposes the entire European part of Russia and a considerable proportion of its Asian territory have been mined with thermonuclear charges whose minimum total yield is not less than 10 megatons and in certain areas exceeds 50!

And however much the Federal Counterintelligence Service may monitor the safety of these open-air nuclear arsenals, however great an effort is made to guard them, and however much SMF experts may assert that they will "not explode," in the wake of Chernobyl we simply have no piece of mind.... God forbid, but if those megatons in Teykovo, Perm, or Kostroma were to go up, Russia would simply be wiped off the face of the earth.... Is that the ultimate "national" aim of the reform of the Russian Federation's SNF?

Of course, it is possible to argue against this view, by brandishing volumes of al kinds of agreements and treaties. But could the possible "SNF opponents" have given some consideration when these agreements were being drawn up to the country in which they live and supposedly serve?

And what are we supposed to do about the flouting of Russian laws when it comes to the early implementation of the START treaties, what are we to do about the nuclear mines strewn across Russia, what are we to do about the unplanned expenditure on numerous strategic undertakings and initiatives? Who is responsible? And will a real program for the development of Russia's strategic nuclear forces which is truly in line with its national interests and its national security be elaborated?