News

Voice of America 4/1/97

U-S/RUSSIA BUNKERS


BYLINE=DAVID GOLLUST
DATELINE=PENTAGON
CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: U-S DEFENSE OFFICIALS SAY RUSSIA IS CONTINUING TO WORK ON NETWORK OF UNDERGROUND BUNKERS AND TUNNELS -- APPARENTLY DESIGNED TO HELP RUSSIAN LEADERS FLEE MOSCOW AND SURVIVE A NUCLEAR ATTACK. HOWEVER, THEY DO NOT SEE THE ACTIVITY AS THREATENING OR IN VIOLATION OF ARMS ACCORDS. VOA'S DAVID GOLLUST HAS DETAILS FROM THE PENTAGON.

TEXT: OFFICIALS HERE SAY THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY MOSCOW IS CONTINUING THE COSTLY BUILDING PROGRAM DESPITE THE END OF THE COLD WAR. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THEY SAY THE BUNKERS AND TUNNELS DO NOT ADD TO RUSSIA'S OFFENSIVE CAPABILITY AND U-S MILITARY PLANNERS ARE NOT OVERLY CONCERNED BY THEM.

THE REMARKS FOLLOW A REPORT BY THE WASHINGTON TIMES NEWSPAPER -- QUOTING WHAT IT SAID IS A SECRET C-I-A DOCUMENT -- THAT THE RUSSIAN BUILDING PROGRAM IS LARGER THAN PREVIOUSLY ASSUMED.

THE NEWSPAPER ACCOUNT SAID THE MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR PROGRAM INCLUDES -- AMONG OTHER THINGS -- TWO NUCLEAR SURVIVABLE COMMAND BUNKERS IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS AND SUBWAY TUNNELS THROUGH WHICH RUSSIAN LEADERS COULD BE RUSHED TO OTHER BUNKERS NEAR MOSCOW.

THE C-I-A DECLINED COMMENT ON THE REPORT. BUT HERE AT THE PENTAGON SPOKESMAN KEN BACON, SAID RUSSIA CONTINUES WORK ON VARIOUS UNDERGROUND FACILITIES BEGUN DURING THE SOVIET ERA. MR. BACON SAID THE UNITED STATES ALSO HAS HARDENED STRUCTURES AND EVACUATION MEASURES TO PROTECT ITS LEADERS IN WARTIME AND THE RUSSIAN ACTIVITY IS NOT CONSIDERED THREATENING:

/// BACON ACTUALITY ///

RUSSIA IS CONTINUING THE PROGRAM. WE DO NOT REGARD THE PROGRAM AS A THREAT. IT IS NOT AN OFFENSIVE PROGRAM. IT'S A PROGRAM TO PROTECT THEIR OFFICIALS. WE DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THEY ARE CONTINUING TO DO THIS, BUT THEY ARE.

/// END ACT ///

MR. BACON SAID MOSCOW CONTINUES TO "AGGRESSIVELY" DISMANTLE OFFENSIVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS UNDER TERMS OF THE STRATEGIC ARMS REDUCTION ACCORD, AND IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS ALONE HAS DESTROYED 19 SUBMARINE-BASED NUCLEAR MISSILES.

HE NOTED RUSSIAN PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN'S COMMITMENT TO OBTAIN RATIFICATION OF THE START-TWO ACCORD IN THE DUMA, AND THAT AT THEIR SUMMIT LAST MONTH IN HELSINKI PRESIDENTS YELTSIN AND CLINTON AGREED ON EVEN DEEPER CUTS UNDER A START-THREE FRAMEWORK.

ASKED IF U-S OFFICIALS HAVE DIRECTLY RAISED CONCERN WITH MOSCOW ABOUT THE BUNKER PROGRAM, MR. BACON SAID EACH COUNTRY MAKES ITS OWN DECISIONS ABOUT DEFENSE PROGRAMS, AND THAT MONEY BEING SPENT ON DIGGING TUNNELS BY DEFINITION DOES NOT ADD TO ENHANCE RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE POTENTIAL. (SIGNED)

NEB/DAG/LWM

01-Apr-97 3:53 PM EST (2053 UTC)
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