Examining SALT Violations and the Problems of Verification

Report Defense

Examining SALT Violations and the Problems of Verification

June 6, 1978 33 min read Download Report
John G.
Senior Fellow and Director of Government Finance Programs

(Archived document, may contain errors)

60 7 June 6, 1978 EXAMINING SAL T VIOLA TIONS AND THE PROBLEMS OF VERIFICA TION INTRODUCTION O f central importance to effective strategic arms control is the ability of the parties to independently monitor each other's compliance with the provisions of negotiated agreements quate verification procedures are essential to enhance confidence in the l i mitations on advanced weapons systems and to guard against the incremental violations of an accord which could alter the pre vailing military balance Ade As the United States and the Soviet Union move toward comple tion of a second-stage agreement in the S trategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT 111, concern about the reliability of our intelligence gathering systems has assumed increasing signif.icance. Indeed some observers contend that the verifiability of the terms of a new pact may be the single most crit ical parameter for judging the merits of the entire package.

The initial SALT Accords of May 26, 197.2, consisted of a five year Executive Interim Agreement on Offensive Strategic Systems and an Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of indefinite duration. The Int erim Agreement placed limits on the numbers and permissible conversion options of fixed, land-based intercontinental ballistic missile launchers (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles SLBMS and ballistic missile-firing submarines, while the ABM Tr e aty limited the'number and kinds of missile defense each nation could separately deploy. The present atmosphere of. growing skep ticism contrasts sharply with the euphoria of 1972 a change re sulting from several interrelated factors. Among these are the f ollowing: 2 disclosure of allegations that the Soviet Union ex ploited to the perimeter of legal permissibility if not actually violated) the provisions of SALT I the probable inclusion in SALT I1 of controversial understandings which, whether formalized o r not would further complicate an already questionable verification ,and enforcement process indications that the Soviets have developed, or are developing, various means to retard U.S. monitoring techniques, and a series of political disputes between the two countries, a by-product of which is a perceived downgrading of detente and the expectation that the SALT negotiations could serve as a vehicle for en hancing mutual trust and cooperation On February 28, 1978, in response to a request by the Senate For eign Relations Committee, the State Department's Arms Control and-Disarmament Agency submitted a detailed summary of the various allegations of Soviet non-compliance with the provisions of SALT I.

The objective of the report, said to represent the composit e view process, was to allay critics' fears that the Carter Administra tion's own political commitment to a SALT I1 Agreement, contin I capacity to independently verify Soviet adherence to the agreement of all executive branch agencies dealing with the.ar m s control gent upon Senate ratification, was such as to compromise our by accepting unwarranted risks While conceding the possibility of some undetected cheating under the'pact's prospective terms, the report stated that any violations of such a magnitude as to modify the nuclear balance would be discovered in time to make an appropriate response 1 The response could be expansion of U.S. arms programs and possible abrogation of the pact. Nevertheless, an arms control package which the Soviet Union could ad m ittedly evade even partially would severely reduce the prospects for congressional approval The purpose of this study is to analyze the various allega tions cited in the State Department report, their disposition as they relate to current American verific a tion practices, and their implications for follow-on agreements and the course of the super power strategic relationship 1. Cited in The Balere Sun, February 25, 1978, p. 1. a 3 THE POLITICAL/STRATEGIC NATURE OF SALT VIOLATIONS With respect to complex U.S . verification procedures the State Department report notes that all intelligence information is analyzed within the framework of the provisions of an agree ment, and recommendations on questions that arise are developed by inter-agency intelligence and po l icy advisory groups of the National Security Council system. Currently, these include an intelligence community steering group on monitoring strategic arms limitations and the Standing Consultative Commission working group of the National Security Council special coordination committee.

If analysis of available intelligence data indicates possible Soviet non-compliance, the National Security Council working group submits recommendations to the President, who retains ultimate responsibility for deciding whe ther to raise the issue with the Soviet Union 2 It is virtually impossible to devise treaties,and/or agree ments regulating strategic nuclear armaments which would be de void of all potential for conflicting legal interpretations of technical details. The latitude for discussion and disagreement is inherent in deliberately ambiguous treaty language which at tempts to accommodate the complexities of diverse U.S. and Soviet force structures as well as competing political interests.

Where violations of an acc ord are alleged, the technical de tails are surely important, if only because they comprise the cur rency of debate. However, the confrontation of legalistic argu ments must not be allowed to obscure the larger meaning of ambivalent, even potentially dang e rous strategic behavior. What is indeed important is what the range and scale of alleged infrac tions reveal about the political and strategic attitudes which an adversary brings to the negotiations, and what may be anticipated in their aftermath. These a ttitudes relate not only to what an agreement makes explicitly or implicitly permissible, but also to what that adversary feels is technically exploitable, irrespective of its legality.

One might properly question why the United States feels com pelled to resort to legalisms in order to redress perceived Soviet non-compliance with SALT I, particularly when the arms control function is itself heralded as a manifestation of the spirit of detente. However, save when it serves their interests, the Soviets have not demonstrated a similar inclination to endorse the notion that arms control agreements have an-intrinsic spirit which is mutuaily binding. In fact, the relentless competition which moti vates the Soviet approach toward SALT (as toward all outstanding p o litical issues) helps to explain in part why those crucial elements 2. For further reference, see Aviation Week-and Space Technologx, March 6, 1978 pp. 18-19. 4 that escaped common definition were left unresolved. These ambi guities resulted not from an a c cident of the negotiating process or a lack of Soviet comprehension, but rather from the exigencies of Soviet strategic interests as they related to systems under de velopment or soon to be tested.3 Thus U.S. insistence on legalistic defenses can be self d efeating if sufficient account is not taken of the political con text within which strategic arms control negotiations are conducted It is with these considerations in mind that the alleged Soviet violations of SALT I; as well as the State Department repo r t's findings regarding the same, must be evaluated ALLEGED SOVIET INFRACTIONS OF THE INTERIM AGREEMENT ON OFFENSIVE MISSILE SYSTEMS 1. Construction of Spec'ial-Purpose Silos (Launch Control Facilities According to Article I of the Interim Agreement The Pa r ties undertake not to start construction of additional fixed, land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers after July 1, 1972.4 The numbers of operational ICBM launchers permitted each side when the Interim Agreement entered into force t o taled approximately 1,618 for the Soviet Union and 1,054 for the United States. Sub sequent U.S. surveillance in 1973 determined that the Soviets were constructing some 150 additional silos of a different design at their ICBM fields along the trans-Siberi a n railway'in Soviet Asia Far from denying the allegation, the Soviets explained the excava tion efforts as involving hardened ICBM launch control facilities for testing and training purposes, since structures designed to potentially house operational ICBM s would directly contravene Article I A suspicious degree of similarity apparently existed, however between the characteristics of the new "launch control" silos and those of conventional ICBM complexes. Like the latter, the facilities 3. See Colin S. Gray SALT I Aftermath: Have the Soviets Been Cheating?"

Air Force Magazine, November 19758 pp. 28-33 4 unless otherwise noted, appeared in Robert J. Pranger (ea Detente and De fense: A Reader (Washington, D.C American Enterprise Institute 1976 p. 1

22. Hexeha fterreferred to as D D, the appropriate page number Will appear in parentheses immediately following the quotation All pertinent provisions of the SALT I Agreements cited in this paper 1 5 I in question were reported to be cylindrical in shape, with "blow I away" doors and launcher-type suspension equipment.

That these facilities could be virtually dual-capable, with little advanced warning, is less an allegation and more a poten tial cause for concern.. However, launchers for the purposes specified by the Soviet Union are sanctioned by the Interim Agree ment and further derive their legal justification from an American Letter of Submittal accompanying the ABM Treaty (U.S. Secretary of State to the President, June 10, 1972) which held that such launchers could "be constructed at operational sites."

The State D epartment's assessment of the issue concludes as follows In early 1977, following further discussions during 1975 and 1976 and a review of our intelligence on this subject, the US decided to close discussion of this matter on the basis that the silos in q u estion are cur rently used as launch control facilities.5 It would appear implausible that the Soviets would risk the illegal installation of some 150 new missiles, knowihg that a program of such magnitude could not go undetected. However, the Department r eport does not deal with the question of whether former launch control facilities have been properly dismantled, in light of which the additional silos could theoretically serve a purpose beyond that specified by the Soviet Union 2. Soviet Dismantl'inu an d Destruction of Replaced ICBM Launchers The Interim Agreement and accompanying Protocal permitted Soviet deployment of no snore than 950 SLBM launchers and 62 modern, nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. Beyond the level of 740, moreover, Soviet S LBM launchers could become opera tional only as one-for-one replacements for older ICBM and SLBM launchers. The latter would be dismantled or destroyed in ac cordance with the agreed procedures which became effective on July 3, 1974, and which included de tailed requirements regarding the timing and notification of compliance.

United States intelligence determined that by 1976, the Soviets had developed a requirement to dismantle 51 repzaced launchers."

Available evidence indicated that the necessary activities would 5.

February 28, 1978, pp. S2552-2556 priate page number will appear in parentheses immediately following the quotation The State Department report was inserted into the Congressional Record Hereinafter referred to as E, the appro 6 not be comp leted on the, but the Soviets pre-empted American notice of non-compliance by acknowledging in the Standing Consulta tive Commission the delay in dismantling 41 older ICBM launchers.

They predicted that the replacements would be completed by June 1 1976, and agreed to the U.S. demand that no more submarines with SLBM launchers would commence sea trials prior to such completion.

The State Department report stipulates that both conditions have been fulfilled, yet its conclusion regarding this issue is somew hat ambiguous Since that the, although we have observed some minor procedural discrepancies at a number of those de activated- launch sites and at others as the replacement process continued, all the launchers have been in a con dition that satisfied the e ssential substantive require ments which are that they cannot be used to launch missiles and cannot be reactivated in a short time E, S2555 It is appropriate to inquire as to how forcefully the United States has impressed upon the Soviet Union our expecta t ion that care would be taken to ensure that notification...was in strict accordance with the agreed procedures CR, S25S5) The acknowl edged "procedural discrepancies" suggest that the Soviets are not unprepared to take incremental advantage of what may be perceived as a relaxation of U.S. surveillance efforts. Two years ago, for example, the United States had to demand that the Soviet Union dismantle some SS-7 and SS-8 ICBM launchers to compensate for sub marines armed with ballistic missiles.

Voluntary So viet restraint cannot realistically be antici pated, particularly in programs where the opportunities for secur ing unilateral advantages appear promising, Indeed, the recent controversy over the number of operational ballistic missile sub marines undersc o res this point. Intelligence sources have confirmed that the Soviets have 64 submarines at sea, two more than the num ber authorized by the Interim Agreement. In 1972 Secretary of De fense Laird stated that "1 would consider it a violation of the intent o f this agreement to go beyond 62 submarines of the Y class."

Moreover, "We would consider any new construction starts which were merely for the purpose of maintaining the momentum of the Soviet Union construction program to be contrary to the intent of the agreement. 116 The Carter Administration claims that, because the additional boats have not undergone sea trials, the Soviets have not technically violated the provisions concerning deployment levels. However, the U.S.S.R. also has three Delta-class subm a rines outfitted for opera tional use as well as six or seven Hotel-class boats which exceed the SALT I limits. Viewed against the backdrop of overall Soviet strategic efforts, the Administkation cannot dismiss lightly even minor abridgments of provisions governing the launcher replacement process 6.

Missile Systems and the Interim Agreement on Lidtation of Strategic Offensive Arms.,"hearing before the Committee on Armed Services, 1972, page 544 Military Implications of the Treaty on the Limitations of Anti -Ballistic 7 3. Light and Heavy ICBMs (The Modern Large Ballistic' Missile Issue Under Article I1 of the Interim Agreement The Parties undertake not to convert land-based launchers for.light ICBMs, or for ICBMs of older types deployed prior to 1964, into l and-based launchers for heavy ICBMs of types deployed after that the D D p. 122 The Soviet Union was permitted 313 so-called "heavy" ICBMs (SS-9s and follow-ons) in SALT I. The ostensible purpose for delineating a "heavy missile" sublimit was to restrict S oviet missile payload and thereby constrain its hard-target counterforce potential. The entire issue was characterized by definitional vagaries, however in particular with regard to what quantitatively constitutes a heavy" ICBM. Indeed, the U'.S Soviet "C o mmon Understanding (s) I dealing with the modernization and replacement process stated only that the dimensions of land-based ICBM silo launchers could not be significantly increased, an obscure guideline whose sesequent elaboration s'hply restricted any p lanned increase to "no more than 10-15 per cent I In the absence of a formal agreement on the permitted volume of ICBMs themselves (the relevant SALT texts and accompanying protocols refer only to silo-launchers, not to missiles the United States delegati o n submitted a Unilateral Statement on May 26, 1972 which expressed regret that.the Soviet Delegation has not been willing to agree on a common definition of a heavy missile The United Sta.tes would consider any missile having a volume significantly greate r than that of the largest light ICBM now operational on either side to be a heavy ICBM. The United States proceeds on the premise that the Soviet side will give due account to this consideration.7 The Soviet Union was charged with violating the Interim Ag r ee ment when it was established in early 1975 that the SS-11 ICBM system, the largest light ICBM then operational on either side with a volume of 69 cubic meters, was being replaced with the SS-19 heavy" ICBM, whose volume was approximately 100 cubic mete rs.

For the record, the United States had served notice on the Soviets that it would consider any missile with a volume exceeding 70 cubic meters to be a "heavy" missile, thus absolutely qualifying the SS-19 for inclusion in this category. However, intelli gence sources did not detect that the Soviet Union had increased the d-imensions of its silo launchers beyond the 10-15 percent stipulated in the common Understanding 7. Cited in Gray, op. cit p. 32 8 The State Department report treats the SS-19 issue in t he following manner The USSR Delegation maintained the position throughout SALT I that an agreed definition of heavy ICBMs was not essential to the understanding reached by the sides in the Interim Agreement on the subject of heavy ICBMs and made clear th a t they did not agree with the U.S. state- ment...When deployment of the SS-19 began, its size, though not a violation of the Interim Agreement provisions caused the U.S. to raise the issue with the Soviets Our purpose was to emphasize the importance the U . S. attached to the distinction made in the context of the SALT I1 agree ment under negotiation at the time Since that time, the United States and the Soviet Union have agreed in the draft text of the Salt I1 agree ments on a clear demarcation, in terms of missile launch weight and throw-weight, between light and heavy ICBMs CR S2554 The modern large ballistic missile MLBM) issue must be assessed from the proper strategic perspective, especially with respect to the nature of increases in silo dimensions. Th e 10-15 percent limit on enlargement, when translated into the volume of a cylinder-shaped silo, could actually sanction an expansion of nearly 30 percent for percent increase is rezstered in both length and diameter. In hear ings in 1972, Secretary Kissin g er referred to the specific Rsafeguard that "silo configuration cannot be changed in a significant way...this meant that it could not be increased by more than 10 to 15 percent."8 Elaborating on this point, Paul Nitze, a member of khe negotiating team, em p hasized that "the background to the negotiations makes it clear that an increase of up to 15 percent would be permitted in only one dimension (or possibly a combination of two dimensions), not in both depth and diameter."g Furthermore, according to defens e analyst Colin Gray The permitted increase in silo volume...in tandem with the technology of the cold launch, which allows ICBMs to be expelled from silos by means of compressed air (meaning that the usable diameter of a silo in in creased by up to fifty percent), amounts to an absence of any meaningful restraint upon the size of "light"

ICBMs. All that the Soviets are violating with the deployment of the SS-19 (which is hot-launched in the conventional manner) is a unilateral American under standing of wh at is and what is not a "light" ICBM.10 one dimension (length or diameter) or almost 52 percent if a fifteen 8. Hearings, 1972, p. 129 Bid, p. 312. 9 10. Gray, op. cit p. 33. i 9 By specifying constraints upon the size of the replacement of light" ICBMs a n d by restricting the increase in the size of ICBM silos, the United States had intended to partially resolve, or at least defer, its potential counterforce problems. This was considered urgent in view of the increasing vulnerability of our land-based Minu t eman ICBM force. However, the negotiated means were inadequate to achieve the desired ends. American policymakers assumed that a) the vol.ume and thus the throw-weight and the payload of Soviet ICBMs would be regulated by the arms control discipline, and b) it would be impossible for the Soviet Union to retro fit its SS-11 silos with a new, significantly larger missle.

Subsequent Soviet evading activities, in the form of new ICBMs which affronted the (American-defined) spirit of SALT 1,but not its letter, proved sufficient to dispel these assumptions and frustrate the United States' rationale in drawing a distinction between light and heavy ICBMs. Indeed, the Soviet hard-target counterforce capa bility has been augmented since SALT I with the testing of se v eral new generations of "silo-busting" ICBM systems. Depending on how or even if) the MLBM issue is resolved in SALT 11, the distinction between light and heavy ICBMs might be nothing more than a rhetorical convenience, yet one whose strategic and legal c u rrency will be grossly depreciated 4. Mobile ICBMs The development and testing of mobile ICBMs are not prohibited by SALT I, yet the United States long since placed the Soviet Union on notice that land-mobile ICBMs are systems of particular sensitivity in American strategic perceptions. To this end, the U.S. delegation authorized a Unilateral Statement on May 20, 1972, which observed that although the issue of land-mobile ICBMs was deferred to'subsequent negotiations the United States would consider the de p loyment of operational land-mobile ICBM launchers during the period of the Interim Agree ment as inconsistent with the objectives of the Interim Agreement. 11 It is an interesting sidelight that, while American strategic thinking on the feasibility of ret a ining a land-mobile option has evolved rapidly since 1972, U.S. officials---until perhaps the Vladivostok Accord of November 1974---feared that the Soviets might pursue their land-mobile option as a means of circumventing the 11. Ibidi, p. 32 10 provision s of the Interim Agreement. A similar occurrence is possible in SALT I1 if the United States proves unsuccessful in restricting the deployment of the Backfire bomber within the common aggregate ceiling on strategic launchers.l*.

The Soviet mobile system which aroused' American curiosity in early 1976 was the SS-

20. Though ostensibly an intermediate-range missile, the SS-20 could be modified for land-mobile purposes from a stationary position and could acquire an intercontinental capability by reducing the total weight of its payload or by adding another pro pulsion stage. Moreover, it incorporates the first two rocket stages of the intercontinental-range SS-X-16 system, the verification of whose testing had been complicated by p r esumed deliberate concealment efforts See the section on "Concealment at Test Ranges Related to the testing of the SS-20 missile, moreover, was the charge that the Soviets had encrypted the data outlining its performance, which is transmitted continuously to ground stations by telemetric signals. Since the United States could receive and analyze this telemetry, the apparent indecipherability of the imagery was con- sidered an impediment to verification in violation of Article V(iii of the Interim Agreement . Subsequent U.S. decoding of SS-20 telemetry 1ed.analysts to believe that the missile had been tested with some 2,000 pounds of ballast which, if replaced by fuel, would assure an intercontinental capability 13 range conversion of the SS-20 system had "be e n discussed in the -press the State Department report concludes After noting that the potentialities for intercbntinental The SS-20 is being deployed to replace older medium and intemediate-range missiles. It is judged to be capable of reaching the Aleuti a n Islands and western Alaska from its present and likely deployment areas in the USSR; however, it cannot reach the contiguous 48 states from any of its likely deployment areas in the Soviet Union...There is no evidence that the Soviets have maae any modi fications to the SS-

20. We have confidence that we would detect the necessary inter continental-range testing of such a modified system CR S2556 12. See Backgrounder 1157, "The Soviet Backfire Bomber Capabilities and SALT Cormplications The Heritage -Foun dation, April 4, 1978 13 Noted in Melvin R. Laird Arms Control: The Russians are Cheating,"

The Reader's Digest, December 1977, p. 100. 11 Furthermore, the Department's findings /Section V(E exonerate the Soviet Union from any culpability in denying test information via the encoding of telemetry) which would inhibit verification of compliance with Agreement provisions The legal accountability of Soviet actions is ambiguous inasmuch as the USSR never initialed or signed any provisions in SALT I dealing wit h offensive mobile systems. Moreover, the language of the American Unilateral Statement referred only to the "deployment" of mobile land-based ICBM launchers. As such, the testing and development of these systems would theoretica2ly be outside the sanction s of the Interim Agreement, although the United States would have the right to monitor certain activities (e.g. deliberate concealment measures which might contravene SALT I terms.

That.the SS-20 could be upgraded for intercontinental missions is beyond serious academic dispute. However, the Soviets have not confirmed U.S. intelligence detection of deployment of the SS-16 or the SS-

20. Actual deployment of these systems would be inconsistent with the American Unilateral Statement, and the SS-20, as a "gra y area" system, would compound verification problems as well as the manner in. which such systems were dealt with in follow-on SALT pacts PRINCIPAL ALLEGED SOVIET VIOLATIONS RELATING TO THE ANTI-BALLI.STIC MISSILE TREATY 1. Testing of Air Defense Radars a nd/or Missiles, in particular the.

SA-5 Griffon and SA-2 Guideline, "in an ABM mode"

In addressing itself to the contentious "SAM-upgrade" issue Article VI of the ABM Treaty enjoins the Parties a) not to give missiles, launchers or radars, other than ABM interceptor missiles, ABM launchers or ABM radars capabilities to counter strategic ballistic missiles or their elements in flight trajectory, and not to test them in an ABM mode, and b) not to deploy in the future radars for early warning of strategic ba l listic missile attack except at locations along the periphery of its national territory and oriented outward. (D D,pp. 117-124 United States intelligence analysts have long believed that the SA-5 Griffon air defense missile, currently emplaced around appr o x imately 110 urban areas, has inherent dual-purpose capabilities and could rapidly be configured to accommodate the sophisticated computer tial revelations in 1973 of suspected Soviet violations of limitations on-ABM testing were complicated by prior dis a greement over what was actually proscribed and radar technologies appropriate to anti-missile systems The in 12 I The United States had authorized a Unilateral Statement on April 7, 1972, according to which infractions of the ABM Treaty would be alleged i f "an interceptor missile was) flight-tested to an altitude inconsistent with interception of targets against which air defenses are deployed."l4 (The reference is to testing altitudes in excess of 100,000 feet Satellite reconnaissance of Soviet SA-5 test firings at the Kapustin Yar desert range north df the Caspian Sea provided circumstantial indications that the missile's radar system may have been tracking ballistic vehicles during the re-entry phase of their flight trajectory into ABM test ranges.

The S oviet Union asserted (May 5, 1972) that high-altitude non-ABM radars were permissible in "range safety and instrumentation roles for purposes of precision tracking and data collection outside of (and inferentially on) agreed test sites such as Sary Shagan .

In categorically rejecting charges of developing nascent ABM capa bilities through the upgrading and possible conversion of surface to-air missile systems; however, the Soviets nevertheless were non-committal about the types of radar technologies (specif ically phased or non-phased array that could acceptably be deployed at facilities apart from the regular ABM test sites in its conclusions on the subject of possible ABM testing with air defense radars and missiles. Regarding the ABM radar problem (in vol v ing the SA-5 system Section I11 (D) of the report ob'serves that, shortly after the formal notification I missile tests had ceased. The U.S. has continued to 1 9 The State Department report exhibits an unsettling ambiguity the radar activity of concern du r ing Soviet ballistic monitor Soviet activities carefully for any indications that such possible testing activity might be resumed CR S2554 Yet Section V (C dealing with the ABM testing of ai?-defense missiles, states Our close monitoring of activities in t his field has not indicated that ABM tests or any tests against strategic ballistic missiles have been conducted with an air defense missile: specifically, we have not ob served any such tests of the SA-5 air defense System missile, the one occasionally m e ntioned in this con nection in the open press S2556 It seems strange that one component of the system would undergo extensive testing while the other, necessary for its effective functioning was suppasedly not tested at all. Beyond the apparent discrepanc y in the Department's report lies an important fact cor roborated by intelligence sources: Although the Soviet Union I 14 Gray, op. cit p. 30.. 13 eventually ceased the radar activities of concern, more than a dozen tests had been conducted prior to the fo r mal United States notifica tion demanding suspension, a number sufficient to accumulate the imformation desired 2. The Development and Testing of Mobile ABM Radars At first glance, Article V (i) of the ABM Treaty appears sufficiently straightforward as to dispel those uncertainties which might otherwise camplicate the verification process. It states that each Party undertakes not to develop, test or deploy ABM systems or components which are sea-based, air-based, space-based, or mobile land-based D t D, p. 119) The margin of ambiguity relates to the definition of "mobile In order to minimize potential misunderstanding, the United States had declared (January 28, 1972) that ''a prohibition on deploy ment of mobile ABM systems and components would rule out th e deployment of ABM launchers and radars which were not permanent fixed types."l5 The vague Soviet res'ponse (April 13, 1972) affirmed the "general common understanding" which characterized evaluation of the matter.

Since 1971, the Soviets have installed a t designated ABM test sites several radars aasociated with an ABM system currently under development. In particular, the radars installed at the Sary Shagan range are reported to possess properties which obscure the necessary distinctions between normally verifiable stationary systems and those with mobile capabilities which could evade detection. Some evidence exists that phased-array radars are employed, with both electronic and mechanical steering of the beam for direction and elevation.

These upgraded systems can be erected far more rapidly than earlier versions and are likewise capable of emplacement on alternate basing structures. They are widely assumed to be transportable by secondary means, though whether they are independently mobile and hence re a dily concealable continues to plague resolution of the issue. Assuming that allegations of mobility could not be sustained, the system's capabilities would still be contingent upon whether it was employed in conjunction with other ABM radars during specif ic phases of the missile defense function.

In any event, United States analysts believed that the new radars could, with minor modifications, be integrated with present ABM radar systems to track American ICBM routes and avoid a radar blackout during a bal listic warhead detonation. The State Department report concludes that the Soviet Union has not legally violated the Treaty by deploying a mobile ABM radar system, noting also that the time invqlved for'installation of such a radar would be excessive.

The lingering skepticism in the intelligence community, however, 14 owes to the original absence of a mutually accepted definition of mobile and the potential for recurrence of a problem with obvious strategic implications 3. Installation of an ABM Radar at Kamchatka Peninsula Construction and operation of a new phased-array radar system at the Kamchatka impact area of the Soviet Union's ICBM test range was detected in October 19

75. Prior to the signing of the SALT I accords, the United States,in somethin g of a preventive initiative compiled and submitted a list of permitted American and Soviet test sites. The objective was to remove the ambiguity of Article IV of the ABM Treaty, which provides that limitations "shall not apply to ABM systems or component s used for development or testing, and located within current or additionally agreed test ranges D D p. 118 Kamchatka was not included in the tentative draft, yet the Soviets neither confirmed nor denied its accuracy or completeness observing instead that n ational technical means of verification assured against misunderstanding The issue was further complicated by the presence of an older ABM-type radar which "could be viewed as having established the Kamchatka impact area as an ABM test range at the the. t h e ABM Treaty was signed CR S2555 ostensibly part of the Soviet Union's test range equipment, might be used to augment its overall perimeter ABM coverage. The State Department report notes American policymakers feared that the Kamchatka rad-ar, while The S o viets indicated that a range with a radar instrumentation complex existed on Kamchatka Peninsula they would be prepared to consider the Kamchatka range a current test range within the meaning of Article IV of the ABM Treaty. The U.S. continued the exchang e to establish that Kamchatka is an ABM test range, that Sary Shagan and Kamchatka are the only ABM test'ranges in the USSR, and that Article IV of the ABM Treaty requires agreement concerning the establishment of additional test ranges CR, S2555 The indet erminacy of the initial Soviet response raises the question of how far (and long) one party to an agreement can proceed with questionable activities before accountability is demanded.

United States exclusion of Kamchatka from the list of ABM test ranges ce rtainly facilitated Soviet evasiveness, particularly given the existence of an older ABM-type radar when the Treaty was signed I on the date of the signature of the ABM Treaty and that U 15 Moreover, the United States found itself in the interesting posit i on of e that the Kamchatka impact area and the radars installed there were regulated by Article IV, in addition to having to further explain the permissible actions con sistent with the provisions of the same Article 4 Article IV likewise restricts each s ide to 15 ABM launchers at test sites. The detailed procedures regulating the dismantling of test launchers beyond the agreed limit were developed in the Standing Consuhative Commission and entered into force on July 3, 19

72. In 1973, via the Commission, the Soviet Union served notice that excess launchers had been dismantled in compliance with the provisions set forth. Data collected subsequently by the United States, however revealed that, contrary to Soviet assertions, several launchers were still in p l ace. According to the State Department's findings Even though the launchers were deactivated prior to entry into force of the procedures, and their reactivation would.be of no strategic significance, the U.S. raised the matter as a case of inaccurate noti f ication or reporting to make known our expectation that in the future, care would be taken to ensure that notification, as well as dismantling or destruction, was in strict accordance with the agreed procedures CR S2555 Given the Soviet propensity to expl o it loopholes to the outer limits of legal acceptability, this admonition has a somewhat hollow ring. Even though the alleged infraction was not corfsidered strate gically significant, the implications of even minor deviations are of greater interest for w h at they reveal about Soviet behavior than is the fact of temporary Soviet compliance. The inaccuracy of pre liminary Soviet notifications inevitably calls into question the USSR's commitment to arms control measures which strengthen mutual confidence and p romote "equal security CONCEALMENT ACTIVITIES AND POSSIBLE DELIBERATE INTERFERENCE 1. Covered Faci1itie.s' and Concealment Several alleged infractions relate to attempted concealment measures at test ranges and construction sites, measures which, if not l e gal violations, at least technically complicate the verification process. The strategic significance of these issue merits extended consideration Article V of the Interim Agreement and Article XI1 of the ABM Treaty provide that each Party 16 shall not int e rfere with the national technical means of verification of the other Party nor...use deliberate concealment measures which impede verifi cation by national technical means of compliance with the provisions of the Agreement or the Treaty D D pp. 120,123 Ho w ever, the two Articles also stipulate that the latter ob ligation shall not require changes in current construction assembly, conversion, or overhaul practices I emphasis added The national technical means of verification cited refer primarily to reconnai ssance satellites and electronic'monitoring systems, which Article V (i) of the Interim Agreement stresses shall be employed in a manner consistent with generally recognized principles of international law The ambiguity of the phrasing is notable.

Although irregular Soviet concealment practices had been closely monitored by the United States "both before and after conclusion of the 1972 SALT agreements the State Department observed that "during 1974, the extent of those concealment activities associated wi t h strategic weapons programs increased substantially CR, S2554) Of major concern in this regard was-the charge that the Soviets had illegally placed canvas covers and planking over extensive sections of the prefabrication, assembly and refit facilities fo r ballistic missile submarines (in particular, the Delta-class) at the Severomorsk construction yard on the Kola Peninsula. Similar camouflage efforts reportedly took place at the Khabarovsk facilities in Siberia as well as at other strategic construction sites throughout the'soviet Union.

Concerning these allegations the State Department findings sound more speculative than definitive None of (the concealment activities) prevented U.S. verification of compliance with the provisions of the ABM Treaty or the Interim Agreement, but there was concern that they could impede verification in the future if the pattern of concealment measures were permitted to continue to expand The U.S. stated this concern and discussed it with the Soviet side. Pn early 1975, care f ul analysis of intelligence information on activities in the Soviet Union led the United States to conclude that there no longer appeared to be an expanding pattern of conceal ment activities associated with strategic weapons prog grams. We continue to mo n itor Soviet activity in this area closely CR S2554 Does the stated lack.of_an "expanding pattern of concealment activities" imply that some infractions are continuing in defiance of the provisions, or are themselves somehow consistent with "generally reco g nized principles of international law Beyond the assumption 17 that such activities contravene the spirit of the accords, their legality must be evaluated against treaty language which is sus ceptible to contrasting interpretations. In particular, that se ntence in Article V (iii) of the Interim Agreement which qualifies the prohibition on deliberate concealment virtually invites circumvention.

Indeed, the Soviet Union has claimed that the covering of cer tain work areas in the SSBN yards is a standard cons truction and conversion practice which long predates the signing of SALT I and hence is perfectly legal. In other words, without directly violating the terms of SALT I, the Soviet Union has managed to render practically worthless its central provisions on verification. Rather than attempt to clarify the ambiguous treaty language with the appropriate legal wording, the United States was content to issue a Unilateral Statement on May 20, 1972, which emphasized the importance that the United States attaches t o the provisions of Article V, including in particular their application to fitting out or berthing submarines. la If the SALT process is to retain significance, then it is in cumbent upon both Parties to ensure against those activities which degrade mutua l confidence-building. Even if technical violations of given provisions have not been committed (or in any case could not be definitively proved), measures which feed perceptions of duplicity undermine the process and thus must be considered of equal signi f i cance 2. Concealment at Test Ranges In early 1977, the United States observed a large net covering over an ICBM test launcher undergoing conversion at a test range in the Soviet Union The range in question is presumed to be Plesetsk where the mobile SS- X -16 has been tested The apparent concealment effort theoretically contravened not only Article V (iii) of the Interim Agreement and the Agreed Statement concerning launcher dimen sions, but also was considered to be inconsistent with an Agreed Statement o n test and. training launchers, which holds that there shall be no significant increase in the number of ICBM and SLBM test and training launchers or in the number of such launchers for modern, land based heavy ICBMs...Construction or conversion of ICBM la u nchers shall be undertaken only for purposes of testing and training CR S2555 16. Cited in Gray, op. cit p. 32. 18 The United States accordingly raised this issue in connection with the ongoing SALT I1 negotiations dealing with the subject of deliberate c o ncealment measures. The State Department report notes In addition we expressed our view that the use of a covering over an ICBM silo launcher concealed activities from national technical means of verifi cation and could impede verification of compliance w i th provisions of the Interim Agreement, specifi cally the provision which dealt with increases in dimensions of ICBM silo launchers as recorded in the Agreed Statement...The U.S. took the position that a covering which conceals activities at an ICBM silo f rom national technical means of verification could reduce the confidence and trust which are important to mutual efforts to establish and main tain strategic arms limitation It has been the Soviet position that the pro visions of the Interim Agreement wer e not applicable to the activity in question. Nevertheless, they sub sequently removed the net covering CR S2555 Assuming that the SS-X-16 rhobile ICBM is involved, it must be emphasized that the Sdviets have been less than forthcoming with regard to infor m ation about the production rate and/or deployment posture of the system. As such, any deliberate concealment activi'ty com plicates the process of determining whether a permissible replacement has been effected or an illegal expansion of the Soviet land-b a sed missile force is being pursued. It is somewhat problematic to speak of mutually agreed limits, inasmuch as the Soviet Union has provided no hard data concerning its weapons inventories. The figures derive instead from U.S. intelligence estimates. At a n y rate, the burden of proof that only (legally) acceptable developments are concealed must be held to rest with the Party attempting the concealment It may be that Soviet compliance was ultimately induced less by American blandishments, and more by the si m ple fact of their having ac quired the level of test infarmation necessary for certain strategic purposes Moreover, the language of Article V of the Interim Agree ment equally obscures interpretations of permissible silo-launcher conversion practices 3. B linding of U.S. reconn'aissance satellites In 1975, United States intelligence analysis suggested that the Soviet Union had possibly experimented with ground-based lasers to degrade infrared sensors on certain U.S. surveillance systems.

Such an activity wo uld obviously be inconsistent with the previously cited Articles XI1 of the ABM Treaty and V (iii) of the Interim Agreement, which rule against deliberate interference with national I 19 technical means of verification that The State Department report obs e rves it was determined that no questionable Soviet activity was involved and that our monitoring capa bilities had not been affected by these events. The analysis indicated that.the events had resulted from several large fires caused by breaks along natur al gas pipelines in the USSR CR, S2556 The explanation sounds less than convincing to military analysts.

Infrared imagery from the Defense Meteorological Satellites was examined for the period when the alleged experimentation occurred and no natural source s for such strong radiations were found. Indeed, the energy levels detected were 10-1,000 times the intensity obtained from an ICBM launch or a natural occurrence such as fire. 1.7 What is of further interest is that the locations of these laser radiation sources in the western part of the USSR did not correspond to known Soviet test facilities Circumstantial indications of sustained Soviet development of a satellite-blinding capability would'questlon the apparently facile conclusion contained in the State Department report even incremental evidence supporting the initial al.legation would run counter to Soviet declarations concerning the need for enhanced mutual confidence to which reliable national technical means of veri fication contribute At any'rate 4 . Develorrment of an Anti-Satellite Svstem Concerning informed speculation that the Soviet Union is develop ing a hunter-killer satellite capability aimed at American reconnaissance systems, the State Department report notes that such development is allege d to be a violation of the obligation not to interfere Since development of with national technical means of verification of compliance with SALT provisions such systems is not prohibited, this program does not call into question Soviet compliance with exi s ting agreements. The actual use of an ASAT system against U.S. national technical means is prohibited, but this has not occurred CR S2556 That the Soviets are even presumed to be developing an anti satellite capability should be sufficient cause for conce r n to 17- Aviation 'Week .and 'Space 'Tech~Iology, December 8, 1975, p. 12. 20 American policymakers. When the Soviets first tested exploding killer satellites in the late 1960s, they used Soviet-manufactured target spacecraft, which could be modified to t r ansmit telemetric signals regarding the extent of damage. These experiments prompted the United States to develop techniques for reducing satellite vulnerability to bombardment. Both countries have recently decided to enter into negotiations devoted to re s olving the potential threat posed by ASAT capabilities. Though violations of relevant treaty provisions have not technically been committed, the implications for effective U.S. monitoring of the more complex terms of follow-on SALT agreements are obvious CONCLUSION In light of the foregoing analysis, several points suggest themselves as possible guidelines for assessing the issue of verifi cation relative to SALT 11.

Under certain conditions, and given the absence of mutual trust between the superpowers, o bscure treaty language can be counter-productive to expectations of reciprocal compliance demonstrated its willingness to exploit loopholes con sistent with its perceived strategic interests. If the Soviets favor vaguely-worded treaty provisions or-de cli n e association with particular interpretations there are probably clearly-defined, though unarticulated political reasons for doing so. Soviet silence does not imply consent, and agreements for the sake of ab stractions like detente are subordinate to calc u lations of the-long-range politi.ca1-.and-strategic arn)s control The Soviet Union has repeatedly The series of American Unilateral Statements in SUT I constituted a tactic for impressing upon the Soviets the u.S. conception of behavior appropriate to the also unilaterally-defined) spirit of SALT. Reliance on Unilateral Statements may lead to unsupportable allega tions of non-compliance or will be less than legally useful to substantiate legitmate charges where evidence is available and do not rest upon ev e n tacit acquiescence by the Soviet Union, such statements may be inadvertently harm ful by inducing American policymakers to assume that the Soviets will respect them Inasmuch as they lack the force of law 3 United States secuiity interests demand that th e terms of critical provisions relating to the development testing and deployment of advanced weapons systems be spelled out with precision. Given the momentum of current Soviet weapons programs, little constrained by SALT I, failure to insist upon a caref u l stipulation of terms could lead to an agreement that is both technically I 21 indefensible and potentially dangerous tracted violations debate demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt SALT I was not a sound set of agreements from a strategic standpoint, wha tever the momentary contribution to an improved political atmosphere As the pro 4) Related to (3) is the question of what might transpire in the absence of a subsequent arms control agreement.

While the United States has delayed or terminated several major weapons programs, the pace of Soviet military develop ments has apparently continued unabated and indicates a potential to rapidly exploit a vacuum left by a breakdown in the arms control process. Indeed, the advantage in this regard which the Soviet Uni o n could reasonably anticipate given the advanced technologies being incorporated into new generations of weapons systems, would be highly destabilizing to the strategic nuclear balance. When the lead-time factor is taken into account, the conceivable marg i n of disparity may be even more pronounced 5 Certain complex issues destined for inclusion in SALT 11 such as the production rate/deployment -posture of the Backfire bomber, would be extremely difficult to verify under the best of circumstances. The recor d of Soviet attempts at concealment and possible interference with American reconnaissance systems suggests that enforce ment of Soviet adherence to the prospective terms of a follow-on pact will undergo severe trials. Since the Soviets are resolutely oppo s ed to on-site inspection the United States must bend efforts to ensure against degradation of existing verification practices 6) A realistic evaluation of the verification issue must transcend legalistic wrangling over those Soviet activ ities which have b een detected and cited as violations df tne treaty The possibility must likewise be considered that the Soviets have undertaken questionable activities of similar or greater magnitude in areas which escaped monitoring by the United States, yet which may b e more detrimental to American security interests than the infractions detected. Despite the assumption by some analysts that, beyond a certain level of sufficiency marginal additions of power cannot be decisive, the cmbined effects of clandestine Soviet d e velopments may promote significantly adverse trends in the strategic balance, a situation which the arms control process (from the American perspective) is manifestly intended to preclude 22 The State Department's findings contain several ambiguities conc e rning the disposition of certain alleged Soviet violations of SALT I, and thus raise questions about whether the issues have been definitively resolved. Furthermore, to assert that major violations of SALT 11 would be detected "in time" does little to enh ance assur ance in the United States' ability to monitor incremental infractions and the!cumulative effect these might have on the strategic balance.

The supposed confidence-building function of the SALT negotiations to which the U.S. ostensibly attaches s uch importance, would likewise be undermined. Above all, American policymakers must withstand the tendency to devote inordinate attention to legalisms and atmospherics and consider more carefully the larger political and perceptual frame work within which strategic arms control serves a specified purpose.

John G. Behuncik Congressional Fellow National Security Affairs


John G.

Senior Fellow and Director of Government Finance Programs