[Page: H3943]


(a) Findings.--Congress finds as follows:

(1) The United States and Russia have been working in the post-Cold War era to establish a new strategic relationship based on cooperation and openness between the two nations.

(2) This effort to establish a new strategic relationship has resulted in the conclusion or agreement in principle on a number of far-reaching agreements, including START I, II, and III, a revision in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and a series of other agreements (such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention), designed to further reduce bilateral threats and limit the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

(3) These far-reaching agreement were based on the understanding between the United States and Russia that there would be a good faith effort on both sides to comply with the letter and spirit of the agreements, that both sides would end their Cold War competition, and that neither side would seek to gain unilateral strategic advantage over the other.

(4) Reports indicate that Russia has been pursuing construction of a massive underground facility of unknown purpose at Yamantau Mountain and the city of Mezhgorye (formerly the settlements of Beloretsk-15 and Beloretsk-16) that is designed to survive a nuclear war and appears to exceed reasonable defense requirements.

(5) The Yamantau Mountain project does not appear to be consistent with the lowering of strategic threats, openness, and cooperation that is the basis of the post-Cold War strategic partnership between the United States and Russia.

(6) Russia appears to have engaged in a campaign to deliberately conceal and mislead the United States about the purpose of the Yamantau Mountain project, as shown by the following:

(A) General and Bashkortostan, People's Deputy Leonid Akimovich Tsirkunov, commandant of Beloretsk-15 and Beloretsk-16, stated in 1991 and 1992 that the purpose of
the construction there was to build a mining and ore-processing complex, but later claimed that it was an underground warehouse for food and clothing.

(B) M.Z. Shakiorov, a former communist official in the region, alleged in 1992 that the Yamantau Mountain facility was to become a shelter for the Russian national leadership in case of nulcear war.

(C) Sources of the Segodnya newspaper in 1996 claimed that the Yamantau Mountain project was associated with the so-called `Dead Hand' nuclear retaliatory command and control system for strategic missiles .

(D) Then Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Rocket Forces General Igor Sergeyev denied that the facility was associated with nuclear forces.

(E) R. Zhukov, a Deputy in the State Assembly, in 1996 claimed that the Yamantau Mountain facility belonged to `atomic scientists' and posed a serious environmental hazard.

(F) Russia's 1997 federal budget lists the project as a closed territory containing installations of the Ministry of Defense, while First Deputy Defense Minister Audrey Kokoshin recently stated that the Ministry of Defense has nothing to do with the project.

(7) Continued cooperation and progress on forging a new strategic relationship between the United States and Russia requires that both nations make transparent to one another major projects underway or plans under consideration that could alter the strategic balance sought in arms control agreements or otherwise be construed by the other side as an important new potential threat.

(8) The United States has allowed senior Russian military and government officials to have access to key strategic facilities of the United States by providing tours of the North American Air Defense (NORAD) command at Cheyenne Mountain and the United States Strategic Command (STRACOM) headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, among other sites, and by providing extensive briefings on the operations of those facilities.

(b) Sense of Congress.--In light of the findings in subsection (a), it is the sense of Congress that--

(1) the Russian government should provide to the United States a written explanation on the principal and secondary purposes of the Yamantau Mountain project, specifically identifying the intended end user and explaining the heavy investment in that project;

(2) the Russian government should allow a United States delegation, including officials of the executive branch, Members of Congress, and United States experts on underground facilities, to have full access to the Yamantau Mountain project to inspect the facility and all rail-served buildings in the southern and northern settlements located near Yamantau; and

(3) the Russian government should direct senior officials responsible for the Yamantau Mountain project to explain to such a United States delegation the purpose and operational concept of all completed and planned underground facilities at Yamantau Mountain in sufficient detail (including through the use of drawings and diagrams) to support a high-confidence judgment by the United States delegation that the design is consistent with the official explanations.