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Gen. Habiger's Briefing on his recent trip to Russia

Presenters: General Eugene Habiger, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command
June 16, 1998 2:15 PM EDT

Speaker: Gen. Habiger will speak on the record and he has some opening remarks about his recent trip to Moscow and around Russia. And then he'll take some questions.

Gen. Habiger: I think some of you were here when I spoke in November about my trip to missile bases, which occurred in October of last year. I went to a road mobile ICBM complex at Tejkovo, about 150 clicks northeast of Moscow. The next day, I went to Kostroma, which is a real mobile base. And that's where the Russians, for the first time ever, took a non-Soviet, non-Russian into a nuclear weapons storage site. And I talked to you about what I saw, the approach the Russians take, their very conservative approach. We have a two-person policy in this country. They have a three-person policy in their country.

The level of security. They have a system similar to ours which we call the personnel reliability program. The program is designed to ensure the people who have access to the nuclear weapons or the critical components of nuclear weapons have the right kind of background checks and are not abusers of alcohol or drugs or that sort of thing.

What I'd like to do is give you an update. Thanks to the efforts of my boss, the Secretary of Defense, and his direct discussions with Marshal Sergeyev, I spent six days just a week or so ago in Russia. And in the six day period, I went to five nuclear storage sites, five major facilities in Russia.

First stop was to Kozel'sk, which is a SS-19 ICBM silo based system approximately 200 kilometers southwest of Moscow. I did not go to a weapons storage area there, but what they wanted to show me was how they guard their individual silos. Now, a little bit of background for you. When I had Gen. Yakovlev back visiting me in March of this year, I took him not only to a ICBM base, but I took him to one of our Navy bases so he could see how the United States Marine Corps guards our nuclear weapons at our Navy bases.

I also had Gen. Ford, Phil Ford, my bomber task force commander, take Gen. Mikhail Oparin, the Russian bomber commander, to our bomber bases to show how we guard nuclear weapons there. The idea was to set the stage at some later point where I could go back and they would reciprocate. That's exactly what happened on this trip. So at Kozel'sk, they had a silo opened for me, an operational ICBM with six warheads on board. And they took me to the silo. They showed me the missile, took me to the launch control facility, showed me the crew members on duty. Every question was answered--very, very open. They showed me how they maintained security. And the Russian approach is a little different than ours in that we rely a lot on technology. We don't have guards stationed at each of our 500 or so silos in the United States. The Russians have two security members on duty at every silo. And that's a radical difference from the way we operate here in this country.

What I saw at Kozel'sk was impressive. Security was excellent.

From there, we went (and this is revolutionary) to Saratov, S-a-r-a-t-o-v, to a national nuclear weapons storage site, where I saw not only strategic weapons, but tactical weapons. I saw a lot of Nunn-Lugar influence in terms of the fencing we supplied them, the high tech sensors that are on the fences. And they took me into the side of a mountain, a hill, where we went behind two doors that were each several thousands of ton in weight. And you had to open up one door at a time, these sliding, massive doors, in order to get into the inner sanctum. In the inner sanctum, there were five nuclear weapon storage bays. They took me into one of those bays and we had interesting discussion. Completely open.

Gen. Valynkin is the commander of the 12th Directorate on the general staff. And this is a new bit of information which I did not know until I went to Russia. On the 1st of April, Gen. Valynkin took over responsibility for all Russian Naval nuclear weapons. On the 1st of May, he took over responsibility for all air force nuclear weapons. And it appears that before the year's out, he will probably take over control of all the rocket force nuclear weapons.

When I asked him why he was going to do this, take over this additional responsibility, he said our security is good, but we're going to make it better. And we're going to standardize our security and safety processes. And that's exactly what he's doing. This guy, Valynkin, is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He started his career in the missile forces. He told me that he's been in the job a little less than a year, and he's taken on a procedure whereby he personally interviews every officer who comes on board working with nuclear weapons. I said, oh, it sounds like Rickover. And he didn't have a clue who Rickover was, but the same kind of approach. He is the perfect guy to take on this responsibility.

At Saratov, at the national site, it's a closed cantonment area. There are about 3,500 people who live in this area. About 1,200 or so are military. The rest are dependents and children. It is closed. The commander, a colonel, is the one who gives permission for people to go off the facility. Completely self-contained schools, hospitals. Gen. Valynkin was very proud to tell me that in order to maintain the very high standards of the children, I saw lots of children, that he pays the teachers at his national sites three times the going rate of teachers in most other places in the country.

While I was there, they demonstrated how they use their security forces to repel a terrorist attack. And the use of helicopters, armored personnel carriers. Was it rehearsed? You bet. Same kind of thing I put my people through before I send a high roller to one of my bases. But they did it very well. Helicopter gun ships were used, and they had about a dozen other security forces jump out of one of their troop carrying helicopters from about an altitude of six feet, roll over and take part in the exercise.

From Saratov, went to Engels, which was about 30 kilometers away. Bomber base. They took me in the weapons storage site area there. Again, I was shown everything, shown the security, shown the closed circuit TV cameras, shown how they use a process of three person control. And Gen. Valynkin made it a point that at his national facilities, it's four person control. You have to have three people who are knowledgeable of the tasks they're about to engage in plus one of their supervisors to go along with them.

The bomber facility was very large geographically. And extensive use, as I said, of closed circuit television. Entry control procedures are very, very tight. And then they took me into the inner-most bunker where they demonstrated the massive doors that guarded the storage bunkers, which were rolled back on steel wheels that rolled on a steel-embedded track. They put a kopeck down to show me this was about the size of nickel before -- this is kind of one of these gee, whiz kind of things. Watch us put the coin -- we used to do it as kids with rail cars. But they showed me in their nuclear storage facility.

From Engels, we went out to Irkutsk, out in the Baikal region, where I went to another SS-25 road mobile base. They took me to a nuclear weapons storage area there. Again, the security was tight, rigorous and in many cases, much like the way we operate here in the United States.

Then Friday night, back to Moscow just in time to get four hours' sleep, which was the norm for this trip. And the next morning, Saturday morning, we went up to Severomorsk, where we went to a nuclear weapons storage site there. I met with the commander in chief of the northern fleet, Gen. Yerofeyev, who was another no-nonsense kind of guy. And again, they took me into a nuclear weapons storage site.

The kinds of things I saw, only officers work on nuclear weapons in Russia. We rely heavily on our non-commissioned officers. Our officers are more in leadership positions than they are in technical positions. Their people who work on nuclear weapons, they don't move around a lot. As a matter of fact, at Saratov, I talked to two colonels. One of the colonels at Saratov had been there for 27, the other had been there for 25 years. And that shows you that there's a great deal of stability there.

Gen. Valynkin told me that, which I knew from a previous trip, the folks who are missile crew members at full alert or who work on nuclear weapons get a base pay plus a 25% bonus. Valynkin said that in his 12th Directorate, his people, and he's got about 30,000 people, Gen. Valynkin does in the 12th Directorate -- his people who deal directly with nuclear weapons, until recently, got base pay plus a 30% bonus. Commanders got base pay plus a 35% bonus. And Valynkin said he recently gained approval for all of his people to be paid at base pay plus a 50% bonus.

Observations. Many similarities. At every nuclear weapons storage site I went into, I received a briefing that I could have taken from Francis E. Warren Air Force Base and just translated into Russian. It was very, very similar. We, as I mentioned to you when I was here in November, tend to use technology a heck of a lot more than the Russians do. They're still very manpower intensive, but that's working for them.

The consolidations that I talked to you about Gen. Valynkin and the 12th Directorate taking over. I asked several questions. Was there some precipitating act that caused this transfer? And the answer I got was no, just want to standardize the procedures. And obvious concern at all levels with the safety and security of their nuclear weapons stockpile. It was a very revealing trip. They were very open in every respect. And at no time did I ask a question and then not have a very thorough answer.

So, with that, I will open it up for questions.

Q: What worries you the most about Russian nuclear weapons programs and security? What still concerns you?

A: At this particular point, I don't have any serious concerns. I see some things they can improve upon. It's a very give and take kind of environment. As I mentioned to you when I was here in November, I said we were going to have an exchange of security experts and we were going to have a shadow program. The security experts, they were going to send ten or so experts over here, which they did in April. Two of them were from the 12th Directorate and eight were from the rocket forces. And I took them to not only Francis E. Warren, but I took them to Bangor, Washington to see how we do it in the Navy.

And as we were walking out of the nuclear storage facility at the Navy base up at Severomorsk, I was kind of harassing my good buddy, Gen. Valynkin, about how this fence line was going up the side of a steep cliff and that it was kind of a tough place to lay fences and just kind of giving him a hard time in a joking manner. And then he immediately comes back to me and says, well, yeah, you may criticize that. He says you do some things in the United States I'd never even think about doing, he said, some of the procedures you use.

So there's been a give and take here. And specifically, he was referring to the fact that we, under very heavy guard, take at some of our bases, contractors into our nuclear weapons storage areas to cut grass. To do the maintenance. Of course, the Russians aren't, and this is not a slam dunk to my good Russians friends, but they're not much into grass cutting. (Laughter)

Q: General, there have been a number of horror stories about the Russian economy, about segments of the military not getting paid. So is the standard of living in the nuclear forces, rocket forces, etc., has that really been maintained? Are those people content?

A: From what I've seen, it's content. They are content. There are two elements of the Russian military that appear to be better off than others. The first is their nuclear forces and the second is their airborne forces. They appear to be putting more emphasis on those two aspects.

The biggest problem the Russians have, and we've discussed this at length with them, is the critical shortage of housing. That is a very, very real problem with them. And Gen. Valynkin mentioned that he was short 2,000 housing units and Gen. Yakovlev had mentioned to me that on the neighborhood of 15 to 17,000 units short. And a lot of this has to do with when they brought back the missile forces from Ukraine and Belarus and Khazakstan, they had to bring back into Russia, they didn't have the money for housing. The Russians have brought the bombers back from Mozdok and have put them at Engels. And they needed housing. So it's a very critical issue. We're working very hard, hopefully, to get some support to perhaps get some Nunn-Lugar money. It's a very contentious issue because there are some folks on the Hill who would not have us spend that money on something like housing.

Q: I take it you're completely and personally convinced as to the integrity of those Russian officers?

A: Yes. As much as I am content with the integrity of the officers that we have.

We're talking about a core of professionals. Virtually in most nations, your officer corps is the seed corn of your country in terms of maintaining your government. And so you've got to put some confidence in them or otherwise, you're on very shaky ground.

Elaine, how are? Good to see you. Did you enjoy my pens?

Q: Very much so.

A: Okay.

Q: Are you assuming from your trip that what you were shown is really the best that the Russians have to offer in terms of their security over nuclear forces? And if so, how far do you think the spectrum goes in terms of lesser security?

A: It's a fair question. The way I would answer that is when I was here last time, I got beat up by you all saying, well, you only saw one base. And remember, I said, yes, I saw one base, but I was told that was representative of the other 19 or so missile bases in Russia. They told me what I saw was representative. I don't quote the individual by name, but one of the senior officers I talked to said when I asked him that very specific question, am I seeing the best. He said you're seeing a little bit of the best, you're seeing most of what's in the mainstream and he said there's some that are worse. But not much worse. So they're very candid in that regard.

Q: Will you ever make any surprise visits anywhere or see anything that was a little bit shaky in terms of their security?

A: No. Again, I don't want to mention any names, but when they took me down into the launch control facility at Kozel'sk, the general I was with hit the wrong button. And so we went somewhere we weren't supposed to go. And I was impressed with what I saw. (Laughter)

One of the reasons why I think we've done so well with the Russians is that our relationship, at least at my level, is based upon just open, you know, very frank dialogue. And it's not one of these things where you probe, trying to get answers to technical questions. For example, Gen. Valynkin, when he took me into a number of the storage sites said, okay, which one of these things do you want me to open up? I said, I don't want you to open up any of them. I see you've explained the external security of the containers. You've shown me the safety wire. You've shown me the two lead seals that are imprinted with the symbol of the two officers that seal that container. I don't need to see what's in there. That's the kind of trust we've built.

And hopefully, I've personally invited Gen. Valynkin to come to this country soon so he can personally see how we do business. I think that's a very good thing to do. And Admiral Yerofeyev from the northern fleet, commander in chief up there, I've invited him and his wife to come also. And I hope we can get that done shortly.

Q: First of all, can you put to rest, and I apologize, I was in and out of the briefing, so if you've touched on this, please tell me. But can you put to rest, finally, this contention that there might be some suitcase size nuclear weapons missing from the Russian nuclear arsenal? What degree of confidence do you have about the assurances you've received?

A: I have a very, very high level of confidence. I talked about that in October. And I was told in no uncertain terms that this is not an issue. They go to great lengths to ensure accountability for their nuclear weapons. The security to get in to the facilities is significant in some cases. When I compare the United States and Russia, don't get me wrong. When I say that in some cases, it's more difficult to get into a Russian facility, I'm not saying that U.S. facilities, it's easy to get into. But when you talk about two 100 ton doors to get through to get into a national weapons site, that's pretty significant.

Q: (Inaudible) are now talking to the Chinese government about possibly detargeting missiles, something that we've already done with Russia. Could you talk a little bit about whether -- how important is detargeting? Is it largely symbolism or is it an important confidence building measure?

A: I underscore important confidence builder. It's the right thing to do. And I'd prefer not to get into a lot of discussion there because I know it's something that's being worked over in the White House. But it's worked very well with the Russians. They feel very comfortable with that.

A little vignette for what it's worth. In December, I invited someone from the far right to come to our headquarters and spend a day and he did. He writes in the Washington Times from time to time. My agenda with him was to convince him that we hadn't sold the farm. And I think we did a fairly good job there. And then in January, mid January, I invited Bruce Blair and some of his colleagues and spent a day with them. And I invited Jeremy Stone from the Federation of American Scientists to come out and to show them what we're doing, the kind of confidence building. I didn't convince them for a lot of obvious reasons, but to kind of put in perspective some of these notions of hair trigger, which are just not true.

Q: Critics say it's meaningless because the missiles can be retargeted so quickly that it's militarily insignificant.

A: Well, the Russians will tell you that it takes in excess of ten minutes for them to put the target sets into the missiles. I've seen it. There are four or five positions depending on the missile that you have to put a switch in, and then there's a zero position, which is the no target position. And from the time they go from the no target, the zero position to one of the target sets, it takes in excess of ten minutes. As a matter of fact, when one of the delegations that I just mentioned visited, we had a big discussion about hair trigger and this notion that you're talking about, Jamie, about getting hair trigger, tens of seconds, less than ten seconds. I was able to pick up the phone early the next morning and call the chief of staff of missile forces through an interpreter at the embassy in Moscow and talk to my good buddy, Gen. Lata, who is the chief of staff. And I said, okay, Vasiliy, what's the answer. How long does it take you to put the coordinates in. And I said, if you can't answer, I understand, but I've got this visitor here and I need a no kidding answer. And he said well, hey, Gen. Habiger, it takes more than ten minutes. And I said thank you very much, that's what my people told me. And then I was able to go back to this individual who was visiting for breakfast and say, hey, I was just talking to the chief of staff for the Russian rocket forces and this is what he told me.

Q: How many missiles have you actually witnessed that have been detargeted?

A: Every one I've seen has been detargeted.

Q: Approximately how many would that been?

A: On this trip, I saw an SS-25 on alert at Irkutsk. I saw that SS-19 on alert at Kozel'sk. And then, what I didn't mention is when I was at the Naval northern fleet headquarters at Severomorsk, they brought a Delta force sub for me to crawl around for an hour, which was very interesting. Let me go through the whole sub except for the engine compartment.

Q: They let you see their warheads uncased?

A: They did at Kostroma last year. And again, if I'd asked, they would have done it this time. But again, the confidence building that we have at the military level is not to be probing, inspector, hey, let me see everything kind of thing.

Q: General, do you think you would have anything to gain by having a similar set of exchanges with the Chinese military leadership?

A: Yes. And we've attempted to pursue that, and have not been very successful. And we hope to, assuming that things work out, in July, we will re-engage with the Chinese and see if we can get a dialogue going. That's very, very important.

Q: Have the Chinese rejected the offer of detargeting?

A: I am not aware of any rejection or acceptance. I know it's something being discussed in the White House.

Q: The consolidation you mentioned earlier, putting the Naval, the air force and the rocket forces under a single person, how significant is that in your view? And does that sort of mirror your role in many ways?

A: Yes, it does. I'm not saying that they did that because of us. But having one person who that's all they worry about is nuclear weapons is probably the right thing to do. Gen. Yakovlev, for example, at the end of last year, not only did he have his nominal responsibilities as the commander in chief of the Russian missile forces, but he picked up the responsibility of being commander in chief of their space activities. So he's got a lot on his platter.

Q: Just out of curiosity, when you met with all these Russian generals, was there any discussion about their views of what's going on with India and Pakistan?

A: Yes.

Q: What did you generally hear from them?

A: Generally the same concerns I have. It's very destabilizing, that part of the world. Obviously, India is a heck of a lot closer to Russia. A consensus, if you will, that the explosion of a laboratory device in a tunnel is heck of a lot different than an operational, miniaturized warhead that has all the built in safety features you would expect. The point I'm trying to make to you is that just because the Indians and the Paks detonated nuclear devices, 12 of them over a 20 day period, which is historical, that there is a big difference, big leap of faith between exploding a laboratory device and operational.

Q: Actually, what's your view on all of that at the moment? I mean, do you view both those countries as nuclear powers now?

A: My own professional view, no. I mean --

Q: Either of them?

A: They have exploded nuclear devices. Does that make a country a nuclear power? That's a rhetorical question.

Q: Are you concerned about the level of safeguards that are in place in Indian and Pakistan? You described the elaborate systems in the United States and Russia. Is there anything like that in terms of India and Pakistan in terms of safeguarding nuclear weapons material?

A: I really have not gotten into that, Jamie. I know that there are massive amounts of security that went around the Pakistani facilities just before their detonations. And let me just say this. The Indians and the Paks have some pretty elaborate security around their facilities that deal with fissile material.

Q: What's the status of the SS-27 fleet as it makes right now and what do you see happening?

A: I see the 27 replacing some of the 18's, you know. The SS-18 has ten warheads. The SS-27 is operational. They've got two of them deployed. Minister Sergeyev and Gen. Yakovlev went out to the Far East to declare those two silos operational. I would expect to see over the next several months more of the SS-27s to be deployed.

Q: These are two fully operational ones or is one of them a training one?

A: They're both operational, both operational.

Q: It takes in excess for each side to retarget these missiles. Some people think it might be a better idea to separately store the warheads and the missiles. What do you say to that? And is there any looking into that as a possibility?

A: I've read Stanfield Turner's book. I've talked to a number of people who helped him write the book. Here's where I'm coming from in this arena. First of all, the Cold War ended, we had 12,000 nuclear weapons staring each other in the face. We began a very stable, verifiable glide path to getting down to lower and lower numbers. START I, where we're at now, 6,000 weapons, START II which is coming. Unfortunately, the Duma did not support debate this month, but has kicked the can until September time frame. Under START II, we'll be down to 3,000, 3,500. START III, under the Helsinki Accord, will get us down to 2,000, 2,500. So, you know, the ultimate goal is the non proliferation treaty, which has been around for 30 years. And oh, by the way, the United States of America has ratified that treaty. The total elimination of nuclear weapons, that's the goal. That's our policy.

But if you read Article 6, it says given the proper preconditions. Zero nuclear weapons given the proper preconditions. I don't think we'll ever see the proper preconditions. My point to you, though, as I talk to people like Bruce Blair and Jeremy Stone and Federation of American Scientists is that, hey, things are going well. You know, today, we have probably about 2,300 nuclear weapons on alert and we ought to get down lower numbers. Under START II, those numbers will be down to less than a thousand. Under START III, those numbers will be less than 700. So we're on a good, stable glide path. And to do something that is not verifiable or if verifiable, very intrusive, would have an -- and also, the potential for being destabilizing, because one of the things as you think through the policy implications of the business that we're in, of deterrence, is that as you go to lower and lower levels of nuclear weapons, cheating takes on much greater leverage. And I'm not implicating that anybody's going to cheat, but those are the kinds of things I think about on a daily basis.

Q: Do the Russians have a different level of security standard for tactical nuclear weapons or is it the same thing?

A: Same.

Q: When Gen. Butler presided, he came to Washington and gave a speech in which he said he'd done a lot of soul searching and had basically renounced the efficacy of nuclear weapons. I guess you're coming toward the end of your command. Have you had any similar introspective thoughts? (Laughter)

A: I've had a religious experience this morning, J.D. You're going to be the first to know it. (Laughter)

No, I'm just kidding you, obviously. I've had the job for two and a half years. I've gone to great, great lengths to make sure that I don't get into a public debate about Gen. Butler and his views. Obviously, my views and his views are 180 degrees out. I disagree with his views vehemently, but he's entitled to his views.

Q: Does the U.S. intelligence community share your relatively sanguine view of the level of command and control in Russia?

A: Sanguine? Sanguine view?

Q: You have a good confidence?

A: I do. And I have a bit of confidence because I've been exposed to a great deal. Now, one of the things I was very frustrated about when I got in to this job was it took me a year before I got, then commander in chief of rocket forces, Sergeyev over to visit. So, as one year. And most commanders in chief are only in the job for two years. So half of my tenure was behind me when I first got this dialogue going. So to make sure we keep the momentum going, when I went on this most recent trip, I took my successor, Admiral Rich Mies, along with me and he got to see everything I did. He got to meet the people and hopefully, will continue this thing in the future, which is very, very important. It should not be a personality driven series of events. It should be a continuous kind of process.

Q: Does the intelligence community share that view?

A: I'll tell you what, and I'll probably get in trouble from the intelligence Mafia, but they just haven't been exposed to this kind of stuff.

Q: So they disagree with you?

A: No. You're terrible, you know that?

Q: Well, I didn't understand your answer.

Q: Do they agree with you entirely or do you have a difference of opinion with the intelligence community?

A: I don't think in most cases, they've been exposed to the level of detail that I have to disagree.

Q: They're not as knowledgeable?

A: Yes, but I didn't want to say that. (Laughter) I mean, the intel folks have pretty big egos. I used to be one, so I can say that.

Q: How does that reflect (inaudible)

A: A lot of the things that they have been exposed to and have written have been based upon estimates, interpolations, interpretations. And do I have the total, hundred percent truth? Probably not. But I'm probably a hell of a lot closer than they are.

Q: Well, then I have to follow up one more time. My question then is what is your assessment of the quality of U.S. intelligence about Russian nuclear forces?

A: It's good. But I think because so much of what is done in this arena, you know, for example, the Saratov Sierra 1050, which is the name of the site I went to, we had never had access to anybody that had ever worked at one of those facilities that I'm aware of. And so, for them to take me in there and show me the flats where the families live, show me the schools, you know, take me to the officer's club for a meal, to see 30 kids come running up never having seen an American before and a Russian three star say, hey, look, here's an American, you've never seen one before. And to take me into the areas where they have the national bunkers, that's revolutionary.

Q: There's been a lot of debate in Washington over the last couple of months about to what extent China's missile program has been aided by U.S. technology. And without getting into any classified information, could you just give us generally an assessment of whether China's missile capability is significantly greater today than it was say a few years ago.

A: No.

Q: It's not.

A: No. From my perspective. I'm talking about military, intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Q: Was all this debate just a lot of hot air?

A: I'm not going to into debates and hot air. Let me tell you that the CSS-4 ICBM that the Chinese have deployed today has been deployed since 1981. And there have been some modifications, but nothing significant.

Q: Another thought that came to mind is in talking to all of these Russians, did you get into the subject of missile proliferation and the dangers of India and Pakistan, Iran, Libya, etc., especially Russian collusion in missile proliferation? Were they as concerned about that as we are?

A: We talked about the development of missile technology in those countries. I did not bring up the subject of Russian involvement in potential proliferation. Our relationship is built, my relationship is built upon, you know, I'm not afraid to ask tough questions, by the same token, I don't go out and ice pick, going for their eyes when I talk to them.

Q: General, we're a technology happy type thing, they're manpower happy, but they still have a lot of technology, obviously, guarding their sites. Year 2000 problems, are they looking at that and are you satisfied with their progress and are you sharing some of the things that maybe you have?

A: Yes. Good question. In February, I accompanied the Secretary over to Moscow for a meeting with Marshal Sergeyev. I had an opportunity to sit down with Gen. Yakovlev for about two hours and talk about his upcoming trip. And as we were going through his itinerary, I asked him what he wanted to do. He said he was tennis player, he wanted to play tennis with Pete Sampras. I said I probably could not set that up. He said he wanted to go swimming in the Pacific Ocean. I said, hey, I'm taking you to Vandenberg, we can do that. And as we were just chatting, I talked about El Nino because California and the tides. And then I said, you know, one of the things that is really worrisome to me because of the potential magnitude of the problem is the Year 2000 problem. He was not very familiar with this issue. In March, he came over, Gen. Yakovlev did, and in a one-on-one session with me, he said thank you very much for bringing that to my attention. And then when I saw him last week, we talked about it at some length. And he said that he does not have any problems in his nuclear command and control with Year 2000, but they're still working the periphery systems.

Q: General, if I could go back to the proliferation question. Is it your opinion that the Russian military leadership either acknowledges or is involved in the proliferation --

A: I have seen no indication of that.

Q: START II question. What is your assessment of the Dumas' postponing hearings again on START II? Did you all talk about that the prospects for getting some smaller numbers? And what's your gauge of Russia's intention toward the nuclear forces? Are they putting most of their eggs in that basket?

A: Yep. I shouldn't say yep. As I mentioned right up front, if you look at where they're spending their money, it's the nuclear forces and the airborne forces. The sensing I got in my discussions with, and again, I don't want to quote a specific individual, but with a senior military official that I talked with on the trip, is that the Duma has three major hang-ups with START II at this particular point in time. Number one, perceptions about ABM activity in the United States. Number two, our capability to break out and upload our ICBM's with more than one warhead. And three, ensuring that the nuclear forces have stable funding. Those are the three primary concerns that were relayed to me as perceptions of the Duma regarding START II. And I'll just relay them to you as I heard them.

Q: If there's so much trust between both sides, why is it that the United States can't get more visibility into the Yamantau mountain complex and other similar construction projects that are underway and closely tied to their command and control of nuclear forces?

A: Excellent question. Again, I don't want to identify anyone by name. But another senior official, very senior official and I had a discussion and that's one of the issues I brought up. I said, we've got folks in the United States who think you're committing a technical foul by, you know, you've got 20,000 people working there. You've got a lot of resource going to this place. Why don't you just take an American down there and show them what you're doing? And he said, got it. I don't know what's going to happen.

Q: Did they tell you what it was all about?

A: Yes. It's the same story that I got from Gen. Sergeyev over a year ago and it is not military-related. It is a national crisis center. That's the way it was described to me. I said you need to put it to bed.

Q: One more question right here. When you were here last time, you mentioned that one of the modernization programs, long range that's going on is the continued development of a cruise missile, long range cruise missile. Any update on that?

A: No. Yes. The update is that there's not as much activity as I thought I would see in that development program. The 15 is still good, which they use on their blackjacks and their bears. Their TU-160's and TU-95's.

Q: Thank you very much, General.