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DoD News Briefing: Brigadier General Gregory G. Govan, USA, On-Site Inspection Agency

Presenters: Brigadier General Gregory G. Govan, USA, On-Site Inspection Agency
February 22, 1995 1:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, February 21, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.

Brigadier General Govan: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here. I believe each of you has a press kit that gives some basics about... I see a lot of negative nods. We will get you that. That will answer some of the more technical questions. Of course, any arms control agreement and treaty implementation is a technical subject.

That's not really what I want to talk to you about. But, here, you'll find some of the details about the treaty itself -- the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which was signed in 1991 and entered into force in December of last year. Those of you who remember what intervened in the time can explain why it was such a long time between signature and entry into force. The Soviet Union, with whom we signed the treaty, disappeared, and there emerged four successor states -- Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. It was only with the accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear state by Ukraine that we were prepared for entry into force and final approval of the START Treaty.

There will also be some details in there about the On-Site Inspection Agency, OSIA, which I represent and our role in the verification process for arms control implementation.

On the 1st of March we will be starting a 120 day base line inspection period. START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, is based on a number of measures, making it the most intrusive, most comprehensive arms control treaty to date that has entered into force, and also the first treaty that actually is going to result in a net reduction of strategic nuclear weapons on both sides. Up until this time, treaties, rather, have approved a ceiling that maybe neither side had not yet reached but intended to go to. There will be deep reductions in the strategic operating forces of both the former Soviet Union and the United States under this treaty. In order to ensure that both sides know precisely what we are doing as we reduce down to new levels, there are very intrusive and very comprehensive on-site inspection and other cooperative measures in conjunction with this treaty.

The treaty is some years old. Some things name already been going on with respect to START. For instance, there has been a preliminary exchange of data. That was updated in January of this year with current data about the strategic forces of both sides. In addition, there are cooperative measures that we have been implementing. For instance, the exchange of missile telemetry data. That will continue, as well as cooperative measures aimed at using and enhancing the role of the national technical means of both sides to monitor this treaty.

The heart of START really is the information exchange. That's the trust part of the equation. The motto of OSIA is Trust and Verify, so we take the trusted data and verify it through a process of on-site inspection. That's one of the things that's going to begin on the first of March.

OSIA will send teams into each and every declared former Soviet strategic operating production test conversion repair facility. Likewise, Russian teams beginning some time after the first of March will begin to visit 38 separate facilities in the United States. Some of these are facilities that until recently were completely off limits to the average American citizen, certainly; to the press in many cases; and certainly, to foreign visitors. So the idea of not only the American Army and American Air Force visiting a submarine facility, for instance which until maybe a couple of years ago when we started a series of mock inspections was anathema, now those same facilities are also going to be hosting Russian, Kazakhstani, Belarussian, and Ukrainian inspectors.

As I said, the baseline period will last for 120 days. There will be some media opportunities during this period. The precise modalities are currently being worked out by the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission which meets in Geneva. Another provision of the START Treaty that has already entered into force, before entry into force as a treaty, it's a body to work out ambiguities and other situations that arise in the course of the implementation of this treaty. Our commissioner to that commission and his counterparts are now working out exactly how the press will have access to inspectors as they come to the United States.

Let me caution, that the actual inspection process whereby a foreign inspector with OSIA escort will go into a nuclear weapons storage facility, into bomber hangars, into missile operating bases and actually do their job, that will not be subject to press coverage. That is considered under the treaty to be privileged data shared between the governments of the respective countries, and will not be for open dissemination.

That's a rough introduction. I'd be happy to entertain any questions you have about the START baseline period, about OSIA's role in the implementation of that treaty or any other questions that are closely related you might have. Let me caution you, though, before you start. I am not a policy person. I'm an implementer. So you'd better not ask me what START means.

Q: You said the Russian, Kazakhstani, Belarussian, Ukrainian teams were going to visit 38 sites in the United States. How many sites in the other four countries will U.S. teams visit?

A: We will be going to a total of 65 locations in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus.

Q: (Inaudible)

A: I think it's broken down in the data that you have. It should be. There will be a listing by category of facility, and also specifying the country. All of those will be accessible through locations that are referred to as points of entry for treaty purposes. There are two points of entry into the United States -- Washington, Dulles Airport; and San Francisco. We will be entering the former Soviet Union through five separate locations -- two in Russia and one in each of the other countries.

Q: As sort of an axiom, I suppose, during the Cold War, those of us who have lived through it, yourself included, that if you trust you get burned. A lot of their missiles are mobile and rail cars, and it's a big section of real estate. What makes you think you're going to see enough to make sure that they really are abiding by the treaty and not just shifting things around behind you?

A: It's a very good question. In fact the idea of mobile is at the heart of the verification regime that was worked out for the START Treaty. Mobile missiles are limited in terms of total numbers, and that is why we have begun portal and perimeter monitoring at the Ukrainian facility that formerly produced the rail mobile ICBM, the SS-24, and why under START we are continuing that monitoring at the Vortkinsk, Russia plant that builds the SS-25s. We had been monitoring there already for over six years under the INF Treaty because it used to produce the road mobile SS-20s. So at the start we're monitoring the production of the missiles themselves to ensure that there is not an excess number.

There is a very, very robust regime of inspections of them mobile missiles themselves including a series of inspections in conjunction with deployment exercises. So that in conjunction with the declared data and then working in tandem with our national technical means, I think we have a very good idea of what they have declared is what they have; and then we verify on the grounds that what they declared is in fact what is there.

Q: Are you actually going to be inspecting the actual dismantlement of nuclear missiles? Are you counting numbers? What exactly are the inspections going to consist of?

A: The inspections will be verifying the various components of a treaty. It depends on what system you're talking about, what you're inspecting for. If you're inspecting bombers, you're actually counting bombers, and in some cases verifying on the grounds that this bomber is in fact configured for delivery of a specific kind of weapons -- a long range nuclear air-launched cruise missile or other armaments, for instance.

When we get into START II, it will also become increasingly important, although in START I it's also important, to verify in some cases the number of warheads on a silo-launched intercontinental ballistic missile. That will be a provision also. This is probably the most intrusive thing we will do.

Q: Most of what these inspections are collecting data for sort of an inventory of...

A: Yes.

Q: ...exactly what everybody has, as opposed to observing say warheads being dismantled or that sort of thing.

A: We will not be observing the destruction of warheads. Again, warheads are not covered directly. It's the delivery systems that are most limited, although there is a warhead limit as well. The warhead dismantlement is subject to transparency and surety measures that are currently being worked out between the Department of Energy and the corresponding Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy.

OSIA, by the way, will be playing a role in some of those transparency measures as well, and we hope to establish mutually -- both Russian inspectors in the U.S.; U.S. inspectors in Russia -- a chain of custody so that the system, the delivery system that is destroyed and eliminated under START, its associated warheads are then followed through the process, taking the warhead off of the delivery system, movement out of the military chain of custody into the civilian, and then through the demilitarization process, and then the eventual storage of the nuclear material, but that's a separate set of agreements.

Q: How often will follow-on inspections be held, or when will the first follow-on...

A: After the baseline period?

Q: After the baseline period.

A: As soon as the baseline period is over, then we go into a complicated formula of annual inspections. There are a total of 12 different inspections under the START Treaty, and again, this is in your fact sheets. But immediately, we will go into a number of different inspections that both sides will perform, including what amounts to an annual quota of visits to all of these facilities spot checking.

It's 100 percent inventory, first of all, during baseline. It's like establishing the balance in your checkbook. We both declare that we each have so many dollars in our accounts. We go into an audit of that account, and then we add and subtract and spot check during the year.

Q: With regard to what will be inspected. You mentioned warheads. Will there be any inspection at all of the targeting of the missiles to verify that the targeting decks are out?

A: No.

Q: I understand the Russians are behind schedule in their destruction, their downsizing of the nuclear forces. Is this correct, that they are behind?

A: I can't answer that. I can only answer with personal knowledge once OSIA gets into the inspection process. We know what's been declared. I don't know whether that's ahead of, on, or behind schedule in terms of any kind of plan of drawing down the force.

It's important to remember, though, that one of the main provisions of the START Treaty, one of the main importances of the START Treaty now as we're both building down our forces, for economic reasons largely, and because of a decline of threat, is because we do it in close confidence with one another each side knowing what the other is doing. During the buildup period of some 40-plus years, we did it with our backs to one another. We couldn't see one another's hands. We didn't know what we were about.

In the negotiation process we turned around and faced off, but in many cases it was a face-off. It was still confrontational.

Now I like to think of my counterparts in the four countries over there and OSIA shoulder to shoulder, working together. Our hands are in full view. We're doing a good counting and accountability, and both sides are absolutely and positively sure what the other guy is up to.

Q: Are they going to know who you are by your name tab?

A: I hope so. They certainly know who I am by my previous experience.

Q: But that is your Russian...

A: That's my name in Russian, yes.

Q: The inspectors from the four countries, are they coming over here working as a team, or how is that...

A: That is pretty much for them to work out. One of the consequences of the breakup of the Soviet Union was that all of the countries jointly became heirs to the Soviet Union's responsibilities, obligations, and rights, under all international agreements, including the START Treaty. Part of the long time between signing of the treaty and ultimate entry into force was working out all of those little details.

One of those details that is of great consequence to them is how the other three countries participate in what is essentially a Russian-led enterprise. There are some financial incentives for Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan not doing their own unilateral inspections of U.S. facilities.

Q: What is the appeal process if you feel that any of these countries is not being as open as you would like? What is the appeal process by which you lodge some type of complaint?

A: First of all, OSIA is absolutely amoral, apolitical in this. We are the observers, and our role is to document unambiguously what we saw. So we don't have an appeal. The U.S. government, to whom we report and who has access to other data and other political judgments, can then register an appeal or register a request for clarification in the body that I mentioned before, the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission, JCIC, which is specifically set up to deal with such ambiguous situations, such controversy or such working out of things that haven't been thought of fully in advance by the negotiators.

Q: Though we will not be able to see press coverage wise the inspectors actually doing their jobs at these 38 sites, after they leave, is the American press allowed to see everything that they saw? Or will there be some things that they will see, a non-NATO member, former adversary, that the American people will not have access to?

A: To some degree the answer to your question is yes. There will continue to be some things for what are now mutually shared security reasons between Russia and the other successor states to the Soviet Union and the United States, that we feel comfortable sharing on an official governmental basis with one another, that we will not share with the public at large -- not because we don't trust the American public, but we don't trust the broader public that would then have access to the information.

Let me give you an example outside of the START regime, and that involves the accountability and transparency over the destruction of warheads and the storage of nuclear materials. There is some information about warhead design that is classified as restricted data under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. The United States has had to get specific congressional permission to share this restricted data with our Russian partners so that we can design meaningful processes to determine that the piece of nuclear material inside a storage container is, in fact, a weapon-configured piece of plutonium, and not an ingot of some other radioactive material. That can't be done without some sharing of sensitive information. We would not make that information broadly public so that some other nuclear "wantabe" somewhere in the world would be able to derive some sort of benefit from it.

It's a new world where we do share information with the partner who used to be the person we were most intent on not sharing information with.

Q: You said this agreement would be the first to result in an actual reduction. Can you quantify that in any way?

A: The rough numbers, we probably had in excess of 20,000 warheads between us, mounted on strategic systems. When START I is completely implemented, we will have an upper limit of 6,000 per side. That's in excess of 8,000 or 9,000. I'd emphasize "in excess of" that are going to be eliminated.

Under START II which has been signed by both countries, and START II only applies to Russia on the other side, because by the time START II takes effect, the other three participants in the treaty process will have removed all of their nuclear weapons. By the time START II enters into force, that reduction will slip down to 3500 so that will be another 5,000 net reduction.

Q: When will it get to zero?

A: President Yeltsin has been talking about a START III. I believe President Clinton has also mentioned the possibility of a follow-on.

Q: Will the schedule of individual visits be known by the other side in advance? Or will their side be able to come in and say, "Today we want to go to see this." To limit the movement...

A: One of the factors about the inspection regime that makes it robust, that gives you a great deal of confidence that we really are going to be able to say, after an on-site inspection, that this is significant information, not just what we were shown, is that they are unannounced. So when I say the baseline inspections begin on the first of March, that's no secret. Where we go on the first of March, the Russians don't know and they won't know until we get there. When we tell them and declare the site, they'll have nine hours to get it there.

Q: This is just a counting of launch vehicles, not an inspection of how many warheads they have on them or anything else.

A: That's associated, though. There are counting rules under START, and we will be verifying during the baseline period that the number f weapons that they declared at that facility are indeed there. There will be an associated number of warheads that are assumed to be with them. After baseline, we will begin a sampling process of reentry vehicle inspections where we will actually count reentry vehicles on selected samples of both submarines and silo-based ICBMs.

Q: You said 38 sites earlier. San Francisco and Washington are included, right?

A: No, they're points of entry.

Q: Well, there are only 36 sites, 38 including San Francisco and Washington.

A: If you add up 36, it's 36, and I misspoke. I must have counted those dots...

Q: I got 38, but that included San Francisco and Washington.

A: I stand corrected. Thirty-six.

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