News

Voice of America 4/16/97

NEW NUCLEAR DANGERS

BYLINE=FRANCIS RONALDS
TELEPHONE=619-3937
DATELINE=WASH
EDITOR=NANCY SMART

CONTENT=  // ACTUALITIES IN AUDIO SERVICES //   

INTRO:   ALTHOUGH THE COLLAPSE OF THE 
SOVIET UNION ENDED THE FEAR OF A GLOBAL 
NUCLEAR WAR, THERE ARE NEW CONCERNS THAT 
NUCLEAR WEAPONS MAY BE USED, EITHER ON 
PURPOSE OR BY INADVERTENCE.  ONE PERSON 
WHO TAKES THIS VIEW IS BRUCE BLAIR, A SENIOR 
FELLOW AT THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION IN 
WASHINGTON WHO HAS SPENT MOST OF HIS 
WORKING LIFE STUDYING AMERICAN AND 
RUSSIAN NUCLEAR ARSENALS, AND HAS WRITTEN 
MANY BOOKS ON THE SUBJECT.  (OPT) MR. BLAIR IS 
SCHEDULED TO TESTIFY ON THIS BEFORE THE SENATE 
ARMED SERVICES SUBCOMMITTEE ON STRATEGIC 
FORCES THIS THURSDAY (ON APRIL 17TH). (END OPT) 
IN A TALK WITH VOA'S FRANK RONALDS, HE SAID 
THAT STEPS CAN BE TAKEN TO REDUCE EXISTING 
DANGERS, BUT AMERICA AND RUSSIA SHOULD ACT 
SOON. 

HOST:    THE IMPRESSION IS WIDESPREAD THAT 
THE DETERIORATION OF THE RUSSIAN ARMY, SO
EVIDENT DURING THE WAR IN CHECHNYA,
HAS NOT AFFECTED THE NUCLEAR FORCES.  
IN FACT, BRUCE BLAIR SAYS, RUSSIA'S NUCLEAR
WEAPONS COMMAND AND CONTROL SYSTEM 
HAS DETERIORATED TO THE POINT THAT THERE
IS A REAL POSSIBILITY THAT A LONG RANGE
STRATEGIC ROCKET AIMED AT THE UNITED
STATES COULD BE FIRED BY ACCIDENT: 

TAPE: CUT ONE -- BLAIR

"THE PROBLEMS THAT HAVE AFFLICTED THE
REGULAR RUSSIAN ARMY THAT HAVE LED
TO ITS VIRTUAL DISINTEGRATION HAVE SPREAD
INTO THE ELITE NUCLEAR UNITS.  ALTHOUGH
THERE IS SUPPOSED TO BE PREFERENTIAL
ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES TO THE NUCLEAR
UNITS, THAT REALLY HASN'T HAPPENED AND
AS A CONSEQUENCE THEY'RE SUFFERING THE
SAME KINDS OF HARDSHIPS AS EVERYONE ELSE
IN THE MILITARY, RANGING FROM NOT BEING 
PAID FOR MONTHS, TO NOT HAVING RESOURCES 
TO TRAIN AND OPERATE THEIR SYSTEMS.  THERE
IS ALSO A GENERAL DETERIORATION OF THE
INFRASTRUCTURE OF NUCLEAR CONTROL AND
EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS, AS A RESULT OF THE 
BUDGET AUSTERITY AND THE LOSS OF KEY
PERSONNEL FROM THE DESIGNS BUREAUS AND
SO FORTH.  I THINK THE SITUATION TODAY IS
QUITE PERILOUS. "

HOST:    NUCLEAR MISSILE UNITS -- BOTH IN 
RUSSIA AND THE UNITED STATES -- STILL OPERATE
UNDER THE "FIRE ON WARNING" PRINCIPLE THAT
APPLIED DURING THE COLD WAR.  FURTHERMORE, 
MR. BLAIR SAYS, THE DISASTROUS STATE OF 
CONVENTIONAL FORCES HAVE LED THE RUSSIANS
TO RECONSIDER THE OFFICIAL DOCTRINE OF
"NO FIRST USE" OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, THE
DOCTRINE THAT THEY WOULD FIRE NUCLEAR 
MISSILES ONLY TO DETER A NUCLEAR ATTACK:

TAPE: CUT TWO -- BLAIR

"AS A RESULT OF THE DISINTEGRATION OF ITS
REGULAR CONVENTIONAL ARMY, THERE IS A 
NEW DOCTRINE BEING DRAFTED THAT CONFIRMS
THE SHIFT AWAY FROM 'NO FIRST USE' OF 
NUCLEAR WEAPONS TOWARD EXPLICIT RELIANCE
ON THE EARLY FIRST USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
TO DEFEND RUSSIA.  SO THERE IS THIS TWIN
PRESSURE THAT PRODUCES GREATER PERIL TODAY 
THAN IT DID BEFORE: ONE, THE GREATER RELIANCE
ON INTENTIONAL USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN A
CRISIS, AND SECONDLY, UNFORTUNATELY, GREATER
SUSCEPTIBILITY TO UNINTENTIONAL USE OF 
NUCLEAR WEAPONS."

HOST:    RUSSIA ALSO HAS PUT A GREATER 
EMPHASIS ON THE ROLE OF TACTICAL NUCLEAR
WEAPONS, OF WHICH THE COUNTRY HAS ABOUT
22,000 -- PERHAPS TEN TIMES AS MANY AS THE UNITED 
STATES.  THESE SHORT-RANGE NUCLEAR WEAPONS
POSE NO DIRECT THREAT TO THE U-S, MR. BLAIR
SAYS, BUT THEIR SMALL SIZE PRESENTS A SERIOUS
THREAT OF PROLIFERATION:

TAPE: CUT THREE -- BLAIR

"ALMOST ALL OF THESE ARE IN SIXTY OR SO 
CENTRAL STORAGE DEPOTS WITHIN RUSSIA.  
THERE ARE ABOUT 3,000 OF THEM, HOWEVER, 
THAT ARE STILL IN THE FIELD.  AND THOSE ARE
THE  WEAPONS THAT CONCERN MANY PEOPLE
BECAUSE OF THEIR POOR SAFEGUARDS AND 
BECAUSE THEY ARE SMALLER AND MORE 
SUSCEPTIBLE TO THEFT.  THEY COULD FALL
INTO THE WRONG HANDS, AND THEY REPRESENT
A PROLIFERATION PROBLEM MORE THAN A 
PROBLEM OF DIRECT ATTACK ON THE UNITED
STATES."

HOST:    ONE OF THE MATTERS THAT MOST 
CONCERNS MR. BLAIR IS THAT THE CREWS FOR
INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILES, AS 
WELL AS NUCLEAR SUBMARINES, ARE ON
CONSTANT ALERT, CREATING A SERIOUS 
POSSIBILITY THAT ONE OR MORE MISSILES
MIGHT BE LAUNCHED BY MISTAKE.  THIS APPLIES
TO THE UNITED STATES AS WELL AS RUSSIA.  AS
REPORTED ON THE VOICE OF AMERICA, 
GENERAL LEE BUTLER, WHO WAS COMMANDER 
OF THE U-S STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND UNTIL HE
RETIRED IN 1992, RECENTLY SAID THAT THESE
CREWS SHOULD BE TAKEN OFF ALERT AS SOON
AS POSSIBLE: 

TAPE: CUT FOUR -- BUTLER

"IF I WERE TO SINGLE OUT ONE ISSUE WHERE 
WE PROBABLY DIFFER FROM THE CURRENT 
ADMINISTRATION: WHY IS IT, THAT MANY
YEARS AFTER THE END OF THE COLD WAR, 
AND FIVE YEARS AFTER WE TOOK BOMBERS 
OFF ALERT, DO WE HAVE LAND-BASED ICBMS
AND SUBMARINE-LAUNCHED BALLISTIC MISSILES
STILL ON THE HIGHEST STATE OF ALERT, AS IF
THE COLD WAR NEVER ENDED?

HOST:    IN A MONOGRAPH CALLED "GLOBAL 
ZERO ALERT" WRITTEN SEVERAL YEARS AGO, 
BRUCE BLAIR MADE THE SAME RECOMMENDATION.
HE SAID CREWS COULD BE TAKEN OFF HIGH 
ALERT QUICKLY, WITHOUT WAITING FOR THE 
RATIFICATION OF ANY STRATEGIC ARMS 
REDUCTION TREATY:

TAPE: CUT FIVE -- BLAIR

"I THEREFORE CAN APPRECIATE GENERAL 
BUTLER'S POSITION ON THE NEED TO REMOVE 
THE HAIR TRIGGER FROM THE CURRENT 
NUCLEAR POSTURE OF RUSSIA AND THE UNITED
STATES.  AND IT'S A STEP THAT REALLY COULD
BE TAKEN QUITE SOON.  WE DON'T NEED TO 
WAIT FOR START 2, OR 3 OR 4 TO GO INTO 
EFFECT IN THE NEXT DECADE OR SO.  WE CAN
ACT VERY QUICKLY TO STAND DOWN THE 
NUCLEAR FORCES TO ENSURE THAT THEIR
OPERATIONAL SAFETY DOES NOT DETERIORATE
TO THE POINT THAT THERE IS A REAL CHANCE
THAT NUCLEAR WAR OR THE USE OF NUCLEAR
WEAPONS COULD HAPPEN BY INADVERTENCE."

HOST:    BRUCE BLAIR THINKS IT IS VERY 
UNFORTUNATE THAT MANY PEOPLE HAVE 
BEEN LED TO BELIEVE THAT THE DANGER OF WAR
WAS OVERCOME WHEN PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON
AND PRESIDENT  BORIS YELTSIN ANNOUNCED IN
1994 THAT THEIR NUCLEAR WEAPONS WERE NO 
LONGER AIMED AT TARGETS IN THEIR RESPECTIVE
COUNTRIES.  IN ACTUAL FACT, MR. BLAIR SAYS, 
THE MISSILES COULD BE RE-AIMED AT THEIR OLD
TARGETS IN A MERE TEN SECONDS.  (SIGNED)

NEB/FSR/NES    

16-Apr-97 1:02 PM EDT (1702 UTC)
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