The Heritage Foundation

Executive Memorandum #31 on Russia

August 5, 1983

August 5, 1983 | Executive Memorandum on Russia

Soviet SALT Cheating: The New Evidence


(Archived document, may contain errors)

8/5/83 31- SOVIET SALT CHEATING: THE NEW'EVIDENCE

At the very time proponents of arms'control agreements with the Soviet Union are urging rat ification of SALT II and progress at the START fiegoti- ations at-the expense.of rigorous verification standards, there is new evidence of-Soviet violation of the 1972 SALT I Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. -Instead of-protesting this Soviet'cheating, the Reagan Administration ha's been strangely.silent and theiCongresshas ignored the unambiguous signs of Soviet nuclear warfighting preparations. Recent photograp.hs taken by a U.S. surveillance satellite on a rou- tine sweep of the eastern Soviet Union r eveal thel construction of an im- mense radar system deep inside the Soviet Union north of the Mongolian border. -Thisnew radar system is targeted toward Alaska and uses advanced "phase-array" technology which will enhance Soviet abilities to predict impa c t areas of incoming warheads and improve tar'get handling capabilities 'for ABM battle-management. Construction of-the fiew radar complex with a transmitter building almost 500 feet long and 300 feet wide violates the ABM Treaty. Article I prohibits any A B M system for' territorial defense; Article II defines radars with an ABM role to apoly to this type of system; Article VI proscribes deployment "in the future 6fradars for early warning of strategic missile attack except at locations along the 'periphery o f... the national territory and oriented outward." (TEmphasis added.) This new radar system has clear ABM battle-managemen t capabilities; it is almost identical with large missile trackifig radars now being tested at Pechora in the Soviet Northwest, at L y aki close to the Caspian Sea and two other locations. It closes the gap of coverage against incoming U.S. land- and sea-based missiles targeted against-eastern Soviet territory arid, together with already existing radar sites,- will soon enable the Soviet s to mount a formidable-antiballistic missile defense against a retaliatory strike by the United States. When combined with growing Soviet first-strike capabilities against U.S. land-based ICBMs and vigorous Sovie'E preparations for civil defense, it becom e s apparent that the Soviets are on the verge of acquiring all major element 's for the potential to wage nuclear war against the United States at tolerable costs. 'An effective Soviet ABM capability will expose the United States to Soviet nuclear blackmai l and jeopardize U.S. ability to counter Soviet threats to strate-. gically vital regions of the world.

This new evidencereinforces longstanding concerns about systematic Soviet violations of the ABM Treaty. Battlefield management radars are

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the long leadtime component of any ABM defense system and the Soviets seem to have gained a great deal of experience in this field since 1975 when they installed an ABM-X-3 radar in the Kamchatka impact area for their ICBM tests. Over the years, the Soviets have a l so been upgrading their surface-to-air (SAM) bomber defense systems--now presumed to perform an ABM role. Since the Carter Administration, the Soviets repeatedly have tested various types of SAM missiles in'a discernable ABM mode at altitudes above 100,00 0 feet and have deployed thousands of less capable SA-5 missiles around-Soviet cities. These illegal ABM activities and the development of an anti-tactical ballistic missle system clearly point to a Soviet decision to subvert the ABM Treaty shortly after s igning it.

Refusals to acknowledge these Soviet treaty violations point to the perennial dilemma of what to do after detecting cheating. The Administra-. tion is doingitself and the country no favor by refusing to acknowledge the mounting evidence that the Soviets are developing a capability which seriously erodes strategic stability and will soon permit the Soviet Union to break out of the ABM Treaty. The Administration should document and publicize Soviet ABM activities and Treaty violations. It should a ccele- rate the U.S. ballistic missile defense (BDM) program. Unless Moscow can refute the evidence that its radar and weapons programs are not de- signed for an ABM role, the U.S. should abrogate the ABM Treaty.

Manfred Hamm, Policy Analyst

For further information: Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, "New Soviet Radar Violates SALT Pact," New York Post, July 27, 1983. Jake Garn, "Soviet Violations of SALT I," Policy Review, No. 9 (Summer 1979.), pp. 11-32.

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