USIS Washington File

06 June 2000

U.S.-Russia Missile Accords to Strengthen Strategic Stability

(Early Warning, Data Exchange Accords Signed in Moscow) (720)
By Susan Ellis
Washington File Staff Writer 

Washington -- A senior Defense Department official told reporters June
6 that the shared Early Warning agreement signed by President Clinton
and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their recent Moscow Summit
meeting "is a step to strengthen strategic stability by further
reducing (the) risk that an accident could result in a ballistic
missile launch."

Two Memoranda of Understanding (MOAs) are involved, the official said,
one of which was concluded the week before the Summit. "This is the
MOA dealing with the Joint Data Exchange Center and the provision on
how early warning information will be provided to this Joint Data
Exchange Center," he said. The second MOA addresses "a complementary
part of Shared Early Warning, which is the intent of the United States
and Russia to try to work out the arrangements of a pre-launch
notification regime that could then be opened up very broadly to
whatever countries wanted to participate."

Speaking on background at a special Pentagon briefing about the Moscow
Summit, the official said that the MOA on Shared Early Warning and the
Data Exchange Center basically provides for the two countries to
provide each other "with near real-time, continuous flow of
information from early warning sensors."

Launch time, launch point, rough direction of launch, impact point and
time would be revealed as derived from these sensors, he said, adding
that this information would be piped in by each side to the Joint Data
Exchange Center, which will be located at a designated site in Moscow.

"The two sides would take their own data and display it on a desktop
computer-generated display on a screen on which both sides could
monitor each other's information," he said.

The idea is to permit both countries' personnel in the center to
consult among themselves and with others in their respective
governments to help resolve any ambiguities, the official said.

He added that the Y2K Center for Strategic Stability in Colorado
Springs, Colorado, successfully monitored "with good Russian
cooperation" worldwide launches during the millennium rollover period.
It set a precedent, he said, for the current activity.

The joint center is estimated to open in about a year, after which
there will be a three-month training period. The center will operate
seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and continue for an indefinite
period of time. "The president termed it as 'permanent,' which is a
first," the official said.

Approximately 16 U.S. military personnel will be permanently assigned
to the center, including a colonel in command, he said. Two-person
teams will work around the clock, with a couple of support people. The
Russians are to provide the security and support, such as utilities,
as well as a kitchen with cooks.

The official said that the United States and Russia will equally share
the $7 million cost of purchasing the land associated with the
facility, an old school, and of renovating the building to make it
appropriate for a joint military operation. In-kind payments are
acceptable, he said, adding that, for example, "the Russians could
provide the building and the land, and we would provide the renovation
of it."

He estimated that an additional $700,000 worth of equipment will be
put into the facility by the United States.

Asked if information eventually can be shared with the Russians on
possible missile launches from rogue nations, the official said, "That
will be done in what we call our Phase 3 of Shared Early Warning

"Launches greater than 500 kilometers in range -- of a ballistic
missile for example -- that (are) in the direction of either party
(and) that could be misinterpreted by Early Warning Systems, will be
reported to each other."

Asked if joint monitoring might not solve the dilemma of an accidental
nuclear war, the official said that knowing and sharing cannot solve
the problem, but that both Russia and the United States agree "that
both sides should have decent early warning capability." He said the
parties are not as concerned "about intentional launches" as they are
about "misinterpreting events."

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