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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 20, November 1997

US and Russia to 'Shadow' Nuclear Security Units

In late October (22-28), US Air Force General Eugene E. Habiger, Commander-in-Chief of Strategic Command, visited Russia at the invitation of the Commander-in-Chief of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF), General Colonel V. N. Yakovlev. The main purpose of the visit was to view and discuss procedures related to the safety and security of Russian strategic nuclear weapons. To this end, General Habiger visited a number of key facilities including, according to a US Department of Defense press release (21 October), "an SRF Reserve Command Post in Balabanovo; Valadimir Missile Army Headquarters; an SS-25 Division in Tejkovo; and an SS-24 rail garrison [in] Kostroma."

On 28 October, General Habiger stated: "One of the major objectives of me coming over here was to dispel the perceptions going around that their [Russia's] safety and security of nuclear weapons had been compromised or was at some risk." General Habiger then announced a programme designed to enable both countries to better monitor each other's nuclear security arrangements in operation:

"We've agreed to what we call a shadow programme where we get a division commander, a missile division commander, a regiment commander, a battalion commander and a missile crew member to come to the United States and shadow their counterparts for approximately one week... He [Commander-in-Chief Yakovlev] is going to reciprocate and we will send comparable people to Russia."

On his return to Washington, General Habiger spoke to reporters about his visit:

"Was it representative? I'd like to think so... They made it very clear that the facility I was in in Kostroma was very representative of the missile bases in Russia... I went to talk to the security people who were guarding the [Kostroma] facility and, as a matter of fact, every one of my questions was answered. And I was shown a lot of things that I was impressed with..."

Reports: Gen. Habiger to visit Russian strategic rocket forces, United States Information Service, 21 October; US general says Russia to 'shadow' nuclear staff, Reuters, 29 October; Russia safeguards called impressive, Associated Press, 4 November

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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