(But sees uncertainties related to missile production) (900)

By Jacquelyn S. Porth

USIA Security Affairs Writer

Washington -- The U.S. intelligence community will be able to monitor "the

most significant provisions" of the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty

(START) "with high confidence," says the deputy director of the Central

Intelligence Agency.


In February 28 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Douglas MacEachin pointed out, however, that in some areas "we will have

uncertainty."  The task of monitoring missile production activity, he said,

is "more difficult than monitoring reductions and deployed forces."

MacEachin explained that an outgrowth of "the historical difficulty in

monitoring missile production is that our estimates of the non-deployed

missile inventory are less certain."  Nevertheless, U.S. intelligence

officials do not believe "the Russians have maintained a large-scale

program to store several hundred or more undeclared, non-deployed strategic

ballistic missiles," he said, although it may be "possible that some

undeclared missiles have been stored at unidentified facilities."

He said it would be "very difficult" for the Russians to acquire, produce

and maintain substantial numbers of delivery systems not deployed or

situated at revealed locations.  To do so, MacEachin said, the Russians

would have to have a tight, perfect system.

Meanwhile, Russian and Ukrainian firms are developing and advertising plans,

the deputy CIA director said, "to produce new space launch vehicles (SLVs)

that are based on MIRVed (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry

Vehicle) ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles)."  If the SLVs are not

START II accountable, he said, "ambiguities could arise."  Still, he added,

SLVs used in conjunction with mobile launchers "must differ from

treaty-limited missiles in ways that are observable by NTM (National

Technical Means)" in the form of special airborne sensors.

U.S. confidence "will be highest," according to MacEachin, "when monitoring

the mandated reductions, including the elimination of SS-18 ICBMs, as well

as accounting for the number of deployed strategic weapons systems --

single-warhead ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy

bombers -- that remain in the force."

With respect to possible Russian cheating scenarios, MacEachin said the

intelligence community weighed its chances of detecting and correctly

interpreting potential cheating and decided that "the increased openness of

Russia and the other former Soviet republics make cheating increasingly

difficult to conceal."

Under the terms of START II, U.S. intelligence is tasked with monitoring:

-- warhead reductions to between 3,000 and 3,500, including a 1,700-to-1,750

sub-limit on submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads;

-- the ban on production, flight-testing, acquisition and deployment of

MIRVed  ICBMs after January 1, 2003;

-- the conversion of up to 90 SS-18 silos for smaller, SS-25 type single

warhead ICBMs;

-- the elimination of the remaining SS-18 heavy ICBM silos and of all SS-18

missiles and canisters;

-- up to 105 SS-19 ICBMs that are downloaded to carry only a single warhead;

-- the number of nuclear weapons with which Russian heavy bombers are

actually equipped; and

-- that heavy bombers reoriented for conventional roles do not carry nuclear

weapons or train for nuclear missions.

MacEachin said the ban on MIRVed ICBMS will be monitored after the year 2003

"both by tracking the elimination of launchers for MIRVed ICBMs and by

analyzing the data from flight tests of new missiles."

He said START II really does "roll back" the growing threat of nuclear

weapons, and it takes the two major steps of cutting the number of U.S. and

1ussian weapons systems by at least half and of eliminating MIRVed ICBMs,

which the United States has always considered its "greatest threat."

Asked about the political prospects for Russian ratification of START II,

MacEachin indicated that it "is not going to be easy" to get the parliament

to act.  He said it is a politically difficult issue because the Russians

are being asked to eliminate the "star" of their strategic triad at a time

when a search for national identity is underway.

Expanding on MacEachin's remarks, Peter Clements, chief of CIA's Russian

Affairs Division, told the committee the current U.S. assessment regarding

ratification is that it is "uncertain at best."  Unrest in Chechnya, he

said, has complicated the arms control debate in Russia because some

experts are asking if it is wise for the country to "diminish" Russian

strategic forces at the very moment when conventional forces are so weak.

Clements said the election expected in the next six to eight months is also

complicating the Russian ratification issue.

MacEachin stressed, however, that despite all of these complications, the

Russian government has not rolled back from its commitment to START II.

There was considerable discussion between MacEachin and members of the

committee about the status of Russian security for nuclear materials.  That

security "has been good," MacEachin said.  The risk of disintegration of

Russian central control has been the biggest concern of U.S. officials, he

noted, but so far that Russian control has been "rigorous."

MacEachin drew an analogy between the demand for narcotics and the demand

for nuclear materials.  Experts can try to interdict the product, he said,

but stemming the flow is a difficult task "as long as demand is there."  As

with all strategic arms control reductions and eliminations, the official

said, "accountability" of nuclear products is "critical."