Now, I also wanted to show him the security, because at that time there was a
lot of talk about [a lack], perhaps, in the Russian security of their nuclear
weapons. So I was able to show him how we've applied a great deal of technology
in our security practices, with the hopes that when he reciprocated and went
back home, and invited me over, that I'd be able to see some of their
facilities and perhaps put to rest ... concerns in this country about the
Russian security of nuclear weapons. |
What's interesting about that visit is that we discovered quite covertly that
General Sergeyev was a big fan of Michael Jordan. And we were able to go to
Michael Jordan's front office, a very gracious group of people, and explain
that this general from the Russian military was coming over. And sure enough,
less than a week later, a box shows up from UPS, addressed to me, and inside is
a basketball: "General Sergeyev, best wishes, Michael Jordan." And when I
presented that to General Sergeyev, tears came to his eyes--first, that we knew
that he was a big fan of Michael Jordan's, and second, that we were able to get
a basketball for him. So I'm sure, over the past week, Marshall Sergeyev is a
little bit teary eyed that Michael Jordan has decided to retire.
What are the Russian concerns that are stalling the ratification of START
... The Duma has three primary concerns about the ratification of
START II. The number one concern is our breakout of the ABM treaty. The
Russians are paranoid that we will come up with that golden beebee that would
negate any kind of Russian capability. Second, the Duma is very, very much
concerned about this upload issue ... in terms of us being able to put more
warheads on our missiles. Because when the Russians go to the START II and
START III regimes, they're going to have missiles that the[re's] no way
they can put more warheads on. They're all going to be single-warheaded
missiles. And the third area that the Duma is very much concerned about in
terms of START II ratification is adequate funding of the Russian nuclear
forces. Russian nuclear forces makes Russia a superpower. I think one of the
reasons why the Russians are so heavily involved in space, manned space. It
puts them in that category of "no one else can do this; therefore, we are a
How important is that to them?
Very important. They're a very proud people. And they fervently believe that
they have a place in the international arena as a superpower. And they're
clinging to some of those bastions from their Soviet days.
In 1994, Yeltsin signed an agreement to de-target the arsenals. How important
was that? What difference did it make?
It was a confidence builder. And it was the right thing to do. We are no longer
on what some have called the hair trigger. It takes the Russians at least ten
minutes to re-insert those targets, if something were to happen. Ten minutes is
not ten seconds, so we've made progress. ... The analogy I would give to you,
is that when the Cold War ended, you had these two boxers, very fierce, capable
boxers that were 6'6" tall, facing each other. And they faced each other
through the Cold War, never raising their glove to hit one another, but they
were capable, with their nuclear forces, and staring at each other, eyeball to
eyeball. When the Cold War ended, there they were. They had this tremendous
capability, and neither would say, "Okay, let's take off the gloves completely
and go to totally non-nuclear kind of environment."
So what we've done since 1991 gone through a number of initiatives, detargeting
being one, dealerting and bringing down our forces [being another]. So that
we're on a very stable, verifiable glide path. In the height of the Cold War,
when these two boxers were facing each other, we had 12,000 nuclear weapons on
each side, a horrendous number of weapons. And under START I, we went to
6,000. That's where we're at now. Under START II, we'll go down to
3,000-3,500. And under START III, if the Helsinki accords hold up, we'll
go down to somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500. ... And hopefully there will be a
START IV and a START V.
But I would submit that it's not going to take the Russians very long to figure
out that when you do the math and you go from START III (the 2,000-2,500
number) and you go down to that next level (whatever that next level is), that,
"Hey, there are some other players out there that have nuclear weapons, like
the French and the Chinese and the Brits," that have to come into the equation.
So when we go from the START I, START II, START III bilateral
kinds of negotiations, and you go multi-lateral, say, with START IV, it's
going to be a very painful process, I think, and it's going to be a very
What is launch-on-warning?
... The policy was one of inserting a degree of uncertainty into your
opponent's eyes about what would really happen if the Russians or the Soviets,
for example, were to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. If you plant
that seed of uncertainty, such as, "If you launch nuclear weapons missiles at
us, we may perhaps retaliate on warning, rather waiting for the nuclear weapons
to hit the United States per se." That's the concept.
And it is still the concept that operates on both militaries?
Let me just say that that's the concept. I'd rather not comment on whether it's
operational with the Russians or the United States. ...
General Dvorkin mentioned that the Russians still do operate on that, and
his understanding was that we still do. He said we're at a point now where
we're being held hostage by the technology; the tail is wagging the dog. Do you
I don't know exactly what he's talking about when he says he's captive to
technology. There's a lot going on in terms of the Russian warning
capabilities, because of lack of robust funding for upgrading some of their
systems. One of their long-range radars was in a former republic, and they had
to shut that system down here last year. Yes. And so there are some
degradations in their warning capabilities that concern the Russians a great
They're also concerning us.
Yes, as they should be. And as a matter of fact, [the U.S.] Deputy Secretary of
Defense ... is working some initiatives to perhaps provide the Russians with
our warning data so that they would have that and be able to see exactly what
They announced that in September, at the Moscow summit.
What's your understanding of how that would work?
Well, there are many different kinds of scenarios you can come up with. Perhaps
you beam the information directly to Moscow via satellite. That's very easy to
do. Perhaps you put a Russian senior officer at Colorado Springs or at the
Strategic Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, where they could see
that data, that information, with a hotline back to their command and control
center. There are lots of ways to do this.
And we're going to put somebody over there?
Well, we certainly could do that, yes.
They said it would be real-time [sharing].
So it would be actually going on all the time.
We're not picking and choosing what data we send. It's real time?
Yes, that's right. ...
That's quite a revolutionary concept for an American military officer to try
to wrap his mind around.
Yes. That is a radical concept. But the Cold War's over, you know. And again,
we've got to stay on this glide path. And while we're on the glide path, we
need to do those kinds of things to build confidence and trust in each other so
that we don't have anything stupid or dumb happen.
In 1995, there was a Norwegian rocket launch. The Russian forces supposedly
were put on alert and went down to two minutes before they determined it was
not an American missile. Is that your understanding of the facts?
No. Not at all. Let me just kind of put it perspective for you. The Norwegians
were going to launch this rocket. They were very sensitive about making sure
that the Russians knew about it. Any country today that launches a missile puts
out what they call a Notice to Airmen--it's through an international aviation
organization--so that airplanes don't go flying over where this missile's going
to be launched. So the Norwegians did that. ... In addition to that one channel
of communication, the Norwegians went through the diplomatic channels to let
the Russians know that this was going to happen. So you had two channels of
information supposedly going up through the system. Somehow, neither one of
those channels got up to their national command center. ...
And the best explanation, and the one that I have absolutely no reason to
doubt, is this. Somehow in the bureaucracy, the word about this launch of the
Norwegian missile did not reach to the military channels. The missile was
launched. The missile was launched from what looked like [to] the Russians
where one of our ballistic missile submarines would launch a missile. The
general officer on duty saw the indications, went to his checklist. The
checklist said, if you have this kind of indication, you let the following
people know, including the President and his briefcase.
Once that process was initiated, and within tens of seconds after that process
was initiated, before any status change was made to any nuclear force, they
determined that this was not a threat to Russia. So no Russian military system
was placed on an increased status of alert. And because they'd already
initiated the procedures to contact the President, they went through and said,
"There is nothing to worry about. We have just had an indication of a launch
from Norway, and it is no threat to Russia." ... All they did was activate a
So it raised no concern in your mind?
Were you concerned at the time, when you first heard about it?
Yes, because I didn't have the facts. We had a series of events in the late
seventies and early eighties, here in the United States. There were some
glitches in the system that looked like we were under attack. And if you go
back and look at what's in the media about those, it'd make the hair on the
back of your neck rise up a little bit.
So you have no concern about the security of the Russian nuclear arsenal. Is
Based upon what I saw, yes. If you were to ask me, "What's your level of
sensitivity today, based upon the fact that there are significant economic
problems in Russia?" I would caveat that perhaps a little bit and say, "We need
to be sensitive to what's going on in Russia." ... What if we had severe
economic problems here in the United States? Perhaps we'd be concerned about
our security of our sensitive military forces, if our military people perhaps
weren't being paid exactly on the 1st and 15th of every month. Or
in Britain, or in France, or in China. So it is something that we need to keep
on our radar scopes. But do I see alarm bells going off at this time? No.
It sounds like there's two separate issues--security of the nuclear arsenal,
and the early warning radar system. And we're using two different
Are you as confident in the security of the so-called tactical nuclear
weapons, the non-strategic force, as you are in the strategic forces?
Well, the Russians in the spring of 1998 took a revolutionary step that did not
get a whole lot of coverage. And that is General Valynkin, who is in charge of
the Twelfth Directorate, took over control of the security of all nuclear
weapons in Russia. Now, when I talked to him in June, he had control of all
nuclear weapons except those in the Strategic Rocket Forces. And he indicated
to me that by the end of 1999, or perhaps shortly thereafter, he would have
control over those. ... I asked Valynkin, I said, "Why are you doing this? Why
are you taking the tactical nukes, the bomber nuclear weapons, the navy nuclear
weapons and the ballistic missile nuclear weapons?" He said, "To standardize
... and to make even better a system that is already good." And that makes
sense. Now, I would submit that perhaps there were some tactical nuclear weapon
storage sites in Russia that maybe weren't quite up to standards, and this is
the reason why he got control. ...
You went to Russia right before you retired, last year?
You came back and you handled a rather remarkable press conference at the
Pentagon, at which you said, "I want to lay this idea that there are loose
nukes running around in Russia to rest." What did you see that made you so
The first trip I made to Russia, where I actually went out into the field--this
was my fourth trip, in June--the previous October, I'd been taken to two
missile complexes. And at the rail [mobile] base at Kastroma, which is about
350 kilometers northeast of Moscow, they actually took me into a nuclear
weapons storage area. They took me into the bunker where the warheads were, and
they showed me the security, the door, the three man policy in terms of getting
into the facility. They took me into the guard shack, and I actually got to
talk to the young, very sharp professional soldiers that were guarding those
nuclear weapons. And I was impressed. Again, there was a lot of areas that they
could have improved upon, especially with the application of technology. But
one of the things that drove us to technology in the late seventies and early
eighties was getting rid of manpower to reduce cost. And the Russians, at this
particular point in time, have lots of manpower and they don't have the bucks
to go out and apply technology to these security issues.
So ... [in October] I went to actually two missile bases, and I saw the
security at the second base. But on this trip in June, not only did I go to two
entirely different missile bases; I went to a bomber base ... . I went to one
of their national storage sites, a place called Saratov. And then they took me
up to the North Fleet submarine base at Severomorsk, and I went on a ballistic
missile submarine. And at one of the missile bases, the bomber base, the
national site, and the navy base, they took me in their nuclear weapons storage
sites. And what I saw gave me the realization that they're deadly serious about
nuclear weapons security, just as we are. And I would expect nothing less.
General Bill Odom said, "Any general who would make an opinion based on one
observation, one trip" --he was referring to your press conference--"Any
general knows that you have to go back not once but several times." He was
skeptical in that what you saw was in fact they can choose where they want you
to go. They can drill their guys before you arrive. How can you be sure that
what you saw reflects reality?
Let me set the record straight. When I got back in from that October trip and
had that first press conference, I made it very clear that I saw one base, but
that I was told that this base was representative of what was going on in
Russia with the nuclear weapons security. I made that very, very clear. When I
went on this most recent trip in June, I asked if I was being shown the best.
If I were just [see]ing the best, how much worse were the worse bases? And the
answer I got was that I saw about the middle of the road. There are some bases
where some of the security was not quite up to the same standards, but that the
disparity was not that great. I was assured by several senior officers--and
again, you know, trust and confidence is built on believing people when they
look you in the eye and say, "This is what's happening." And again, from what I
saw at the bases I went to, the two missile bases, the bomber base, the
national storage site, and the navy base, they're doing okay.
When did you first start this series of exchanges with the Russian
Well, it goes back with me to 1992, when General Deynekin, the Chief of Staff
of the Russian Air Force visited Randolph Air Force Base. And I was the
vice-commander of that command. He was a bomber pilot, and we hit it off very,
very well. And he invited me back over in, I believe it was '93, to speak to
his senior people about how we develop non-commissioned officers, how we manage
our enlisted force, because in Russia they have virtually no non-commissioned
officer corps. Virtually all the work, significant work, is done by officers.
So it began back in the '92 time frame. But my first visit to Russia was with
Secretary Cohen, back in 1996, in the fall of 1996. And that's when I
accompanied him when he had a meeting with Marshall Sergeyev. ...
So you've developed a relationship with individual officers.
Yes. A large number of representative officers. As a matter of fact, just about
a year ago, I had a group of three individuals from our country who are zealots
when it comes to the abolition of nuclear weapons, dealerting. ... And [we] had
a very heated discussion about the Russians being on a hair trigger. And Bruce
Blair said, "Hey, ten seconds, they can launch their missiles." I said, "Bruce,
you're wrong. I mean, my intelligence folks tell me it's a minimum of ten
minutes, and the Russians have told me that." He said, "Well, you don't know
what you're talking about." So I went home fuming that night. Got up early the
next morning, went in the office, placed a phone call to the embassy, talked to
a Russian interpreter there, a non-commissioned officer, and I said, "Please
call the Russian Strategic Rocket Force headquarters and let me talk to their
commander-in-chief." He made the call. Commander-in-chief was not available,
[so I talked to] an individual that I had gotten to know who is their Chief of
Staff a major general, 2-star general. [He] got on the phone ... and I said,
"I've got some folks here as visitors that do not understand the way your ICBMs
work." And I said, "I want you to tell me, if you can, how long it takes." I
didn't want to plant a seed. I said, "How long does it take if you want to
re-insert the targets into your systems?" And he says, "Well, it takes a
minimum of ten minutes." His precise words was, "Takes more than ten
The missile defense lobby will say, "Those Russian generals will tell you
whatever they want you to hear. But when it comes down to their security versus
your security, they're going to choose their side." Why should we trust them?
How can you trust an enemy that has been facing you with 30,000 nuclear weapons
for the last 50 years?
But they're no longer our enemy. Again, it gets back to this analogy where we
ended the Cold War, the loser really didn't lose, and we're trying to find
those ways to get us from 12,000 nuclear weapons down to some very, very low
levels. And I think, if you just look at what's gone on in the past eight
years, we've made tremendous progress, compared to where we were in 1991.
Given your level of confidence, do we really need a Cooperative Threat
Oh yes, yes. ... [It's] a very expensive program, almost $2 billion we've
appropriated in that program. And I understand, having read the State of the
Union speech, that we're going to plus up that account. ... Based upon what
I've seen, those dollars are doing tremendous things in terms of improving
Russian security of their nuclear forces. When I went to Saratov, the national
weapons storage site, I saw many indications in fencing and gate systems and
televisions systems that those monies are being well spent.
The biggest problem the Russians have today, that they will tell you, with
their forces involved with nuclear weapons--and it's a problem endemic across
the entire Russian military--[is] in terms of adequate housing for their
officers. The Russian system is such that at about the 11-year point in a
military officer's career, he's entitled to a flat, an apartment, by law. And
the Rocket Forces, they're short about 15,000 housing units. General Valynkin
was short about 2,000 housing units. And this is an area that we really need to
work on. There's a great deal of negative views on the subject on the Hill,
unfortunately, in terms of: Why should we be spending money on Russian housing?
But this is a very real problem for the Russians.
Why is it in the U.S.' interest to buy Russian soldiers housing?
It's a mind shift, very much so. But if you want to talk about keeping morale
up, that's the single point that was brought home to me by many of the senior
officers. ... The Russian officer who has come up through this 11-year point is
expecting that flat. ... I think the analogy would be if we were to cut off
medical care or severely restrict medical care for our active duty people.
That's an entitlement. If we were told that our retirement pay was going to be
curtailed drastically, that would cause tremendous morale problems in the
United States. Well, the same kind of thing has happened in Russia. ...
What is your worry about the morale?
...The people who deal with nuclear weapons, you go to great lengths to make
sure that they're well fed, they're taken care of, that they've got adequate
housing, the medical care is good, because they have a special trust, whether
you're talking about United States, Britain, France, Chinese, Russians. So when
things start happening which erode the morale, sure, you'd better be concerned.
You don't want a disgruntled individual out there involved in nuclear weapons.
And that's why we have in this country something called the Personnel
Reliability Program, where we specifically look, almost in an Orwellian
[fashion], where Big Brother is watching each of those several thousand people
involved with nuclear weapons to make sure that they've got a full deck they've
got their heads on straight. And if you inject a series of inputs which impact
morale, you better be concerned, no matter what country you're talking about.
So yes. If conditions continue to erode in Russia, it's something we ought to
be concerned about. By the same token, the Russians have in place a series of
programs to make sure that their people who are dealing with nuclear weapons
are mentally prepared and mentally trustworthy to be doing their daily jobs.
And if they're not, they don't go to work.
Can you be a little more specific?
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that before any Russian missile crew
member goes on duty, whether it's a officer in the control silo or a security
individual, that they are interviewed by a medical doctor and a psychiatrist,
or psychologist. The doc looks him in the eye and makes sure that somebody's
home. And the psychologist talks to him. They take their blood pressure, and
you know, they talk to him a little bit. We don't do anything like that. We
tend to look at the individual, and if we see something wrong, then we will
react. ... We talk to them, but it's not as formal as what the Russians do.
Both systems work. ...
And yet we've seen since August, since the collapse of the ruble, a navy
sailor who killed five crew members on a submarine, locked himself up in a torpedo
bay; incidents of increased problems with suicide and depression among the
Strategic Rocket Force documented; an increase in the number of non-combat
deaths in the military as a whole. What does this say to you about what's
happening to the Russian military?
Well, it tells me that we need to be a little bit concerned about what's going
on in Russia, in terms of the economic unrest. It is something that I don't
think we ought to start crying "the sky is falling," but it's certainly
something we need to keep our eye on ... .
If you were looking at the reports of the Russian military, and instead of
"Russia" it said "U.S." what would you be recommending up your chain of command?
I'd be recommending that we maintain the programs we have in place, increase
When the Soviet Union broke up and the Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan were
left with their own nuclear forces, that raised the specter of a new threat to
the U.S., as another group of mini-superpowers.
That's right. And that's why we very aggressively, under Nunn-Lugar, went in
and got those nuclear weapons out of there very, very quickly. The command and
control ... [is] a very complex system with a lot of safeguards and a lot of
unlocks, if you will, that are required before you can launch a missile or
activate the nuclear warhead. The very iron-fisted--no pun intended--control of
those nuclear forces in those three former republics, [is] from Moscow. So I
don't think there was a concern so much of a launch from one of those
republics, as it was of perhaps one of those former republics saying, "Well,
I've got the nukes here; I'm just going to kick the Russian crew members who
are guarding those facilities and are manning those facilities, kick them out,
and we'll become an instant nuclear power." That's why, with Nunn-Lugar money,
we went in very, very quickly. And as I recall, by late 1996, we had all the
nuclear weapons out of those three former republics.
So they are now nuclear-free?
They have been for over two years.
General Butler advocates a total dealerting and stand down with these
weapons as the only way to get rid of the nuclear genie. What's your stand on
... The policy of the United States of America, as embodied in the 1968
Non-Proliferation Treaty, is zero nuclear weapons. But if you read Article 6 of
that treaty, it says "under the proper preconditions". The problem is, I don't
think we'll ever see the proper preconditions. And that's unfortunate.
Now, dealerting. Again I go back to my analogy. You know: 12,000 nuclear
weapons, most of those on alert during the Cold War. Today, under START I,
the Russians have about 2,000 nuclear weapons on alert. Under START II,
they'll be down to about 1,000 nuclear weapons on alert. Under START III,
if all goes [as planned, that number will] be around 700 nuclear weapons. And
everybody feels comfortable with that. You don't want to do anything
unilaterally that's going to be destabilizing. You don't want to do anything
that's going to create uncertainty. So we're on a very adequate, verifiable
glide path. ...
We've taken some aggressive steps. Getting back to those 450 Minuteman II's
that I mentioned earlier, we unilaterally dealerted those. Gorbachev, when he
was here in a press conference, said he was going to do the same thing when he
got back home. He never did. There was a revolution. He was thrown out of
power. So we unilaterally, for example, dealerted those 450 Minuteman II
missiles, with no reciprocal actions on the part of the Russians. As a matter
of fact, if you go back and look at every initiative that's been taken since
the end of the Cold War--dealerting of airplanes, missiles, command and control
airplanes, that sort of thing--the United States has taken, as I recall, about
19 separate initiatives. The Russians have reciprocated in six of those 19. Who
won the Cold War?
So you're still not quite trusting.
Oh, I am. I'm trusting. My point is that we, as the winner of the Cold War,
have taken extraordinary steps, in my view.
But we don't want to go down to zero?
As I said, we're trying to get down to lower numbers, and we're doing that. And
as I said, when you get beyond START III, in my view, it's going to become
a multilateral negotiation, and that's going to be a very painful process.
Gen. Dvorkin was also advocating dealerting, in a different sense. He felt
there were steps that could be taken to increase the time available. So instead
of moving from 10-15 minutes, we'd have weeks or months. The batteries could be
removed. There were ways the missiles could be taken apart so that they could
be put back together again, but it would give diplomatic efforts more time to
work. Do you think that's a good idea?
No. And the reason why I say "no" is that those concepts are very difficult to
verify. And once you get into things that you can't verify without very, very
intrusive inspection protocols, then the uncertainty grows. And right now, we
have virtually no uncertainty.
One of the things that I did when I was in command of Strategic Command was a
wall-to-wall review of: What are the things we have to think about as we get to
lower and lower numbers? And ... I asked Paul [Robinson who is the director of
the Sandia Lab] and his band of very smart people ... that work for him on this
committee to go out and look at the policy implications. And he came back with
a whole menu of things we need to worry about. The thing that really got my
attention is that leverage of cheating as you get to lower and lower numbers.
As you get to lower and lower numbers, and as you start doing things like
you're talking about or being advocated by Dvorkin or Butler, is that the
leverage of cheating takes on a whole new dimension.
What do you mean by "the leverage of cheating?"
If you could put those batteries back in without the other side knowing about
it, and then all of a sudden coming up on the Net saying, "Okay, what are you
going to do now? We've got the batteries back in our missiles, and now we've
got 2,000 warheads on alert. You've got 200. Get on your knees."
So we're still hostage to the nuclear standoff, is what you're telling
Only if you go to the outer boundaries of the extremes I'm talking about. And
that's the beauty of following the policy we've got going now.
So you're an advocate of deterrence. You believe it works.
For the foreseeable future, yes. But deterrence will take on new meaning as the
United States and Russia gets down to lower and lower numbers of weapons.
Secretary Cohen has recently announced that we're going to go ahead with
National Missile Defense. What do you think that will do to Russian
It's going to fan that paranoia. In my discussions with senior Russian military
leaders, they're afraid of that golden beebee from a ABM system that will
completely negate their nuclear forces. ... The president, I think, did the
exactly right thing in giving Yeltsin a heads-up a day or two before the State
of the Union message, that this was going to be in his State of the Union
address. ... But I will tell you, this is going to be a tough one, pursuing
this National Missile Defense System. The Russians are going to take this with
a great deal of emotion, because this is a gut issue with them. ...
Most intelligence people that I speak with are more concerned about tactical
nukes, the threat of a rogue state getting fissile material and delivering a
bomb to our door via truck or backpack. How concerned are you about that
That's my primary concern. Of all the concerns I had while I was
commander-in-chief of Strategic Command, it was a terrorist event using a
nuclear device. I didn't say "weapon" but a device. The knowledge is out there
on how to build a nuclear device. If you look at what happened the World Trade
Center in New York with the conventional bomb, if that had been a nuclear
device, and instead of tens of people killed, you get tens of thousands, and
you have the nuclear radioactivity in the lower part of Manhattan, I mean, you
would have shut down one of our major metropolitan areas. And then, in addition
to the horrific things that would go on if a nuclear device were to be used
like that, what if, instead of a rogue state setting off that device, you had
an independent terrorist group? Now, who do you go retaliate against in that
kind of a situation? That's the thing that scared me more than anything else.
And then when you bring in the chemical and the biological concerns, I mean,
you go back and look at what happened in Tokyo with that religious sect. That
was very close to being a major, major disaster. ... And that's the thing that
scares me more than anything else. [Now], one of the beauties of the Nunn-Lugar
program is to insert lots of money into those areas in Russia where fissile
material is stored, to ensure the security of that stuff.
Yeltsin's former Science Advisor, Alexei Yablokov, came to the U.S. last year
and testified about suitcase bombs that KGB or somebody was making for
terrorist use. Do we know whether these things existed? If so, do the Russians
now know where they all are?
Yes, we knew they existed. Suitcase nuclear bomb is, I think, a little
optimistic. It's certainly something that ... I would be hard pressed to carry.
It's fairly big and it's fairly heavy. The Russians, again from what I saw, go
to great lengths in the accountability of their nuclear devices. We are
spending a lot of money under Nunn-Lugar to automate that system. Our system is
very automated, and we test it on a regular basis. The Russian system is more
manpower-intensive. It's pretty much a stubby pencil and a spreadsheet kind of
thing. But I was shown how they account for their nuclear weapons. And I was
told that these smaller devices are included in that same accountability
system. I mean, General Yakoulev took me in his office--General Yakoulev is the
commander-in-chief of the Rocket Forces--and showed me an IBM computer screen,
and ... Yakoulev can track where every nuclear weapon is in his system by
serial number. I couldn't do that from my headquarters. ... If the Russians
were as deadly serious about the accountability of the nuclear weapons that I
saw and have been involved with, I can only surmise that they have the same
concerns with the smaller weapons. There have been a number of Russians that
have come over here and thrown a grenade on the table of some of our
Congressional committees, saying that there lot of loose suitcase bombs out
there. I don't think so. ...
You said you were impressed with the quality of the Russian military
officers and their professionalism.
Is that professionalism a sufficient safeguard, given the current economic
I think it's one of the pillars of the safeguards. What I've found in my
dealings with Russian officers--both in the Air Force, the Navy, and the
Army--is individuals who are Russians first. They understand the Cold War's
over. I saw no indications that they were sour grapes, that they lost the war.
They love their motherland. ...
The people who are involved in nuclear weapons are dedicated; they're
professional; they're screened. They understand what they're doing. They
understand the consequences if they don't do their jobs adequately and at the
very best of their ability. They're family-oriented. General Yakoulev, who's
the commander-in-chief of their Rocket Forces ... is married to a pediatrician.
He has a daughter, 12, and a daughter, 4. Dedicated family man. Much like many
of our military officers here. Very easy to get along with. They express
themselves well. They're well read. And it was a pleasure to get to know these
people. And when you get to know these people, you develop a level of
confidence and trust. So when they look you in the eye and say, "Okay, Habiger,
what you're seeing is representative of our nuclear weapons storage sites," I
You took General Yakoulev into a Trident submarine.
I know he also saw the missile silos, but what seems to have amazed the
military men was that you had taken him inside the Trident.
Why did you do that?
Because I wanted to show him that we were totally and completely open; that we
had nothing that we wanted to keep from them. The primary purpose in taking him
to Bangor, Washington, to the sub base area, in addition to taking him in the
submarine and show him the quality of people and the condition of our
equipment, but also to take him to the nuclear weapon storage site there, to
show him how the United States Marines guard that facility. And again, there
was a alternative method in my madness, [that] is that they would reciprocate.
And they did, in less than 90 days. I went back over, and they took me to a
submarine base. And again, it's to build that confidence. Being able to come
back and say, "Been there, done that. And let me tell you what I saw."...
General Dvorkin also stressed trust, and he said, "Once we got to know each
other and shed our ideological skin, we discovered that we were all humans
underneath. And it made me wonder how we had ever been enemies for so long in
the first place."
I can understand that. And I would reflect with the same kinds of thoughts or
words, that we have so much in common. Our values are so very much alike.
Because of those early exchange programs, we've come such a long way. And I'd
like to think, in the coming months and the coming years, that we will go even
further. Now ... the next step is to get this to lower levels. In other words,
start working on the seed corn of our military leadership five or ten years
from now, down to the major and lieutenant colonel and the colonel level. And
we're doing that. We've got an exchange program with missiliers. The Russians
sent over a delegation of their line lieutenants and captains, and they spent a
very delightful week at one of my missile facilities. And we're going to send a
similar group over to one of their missile bases. And it's what we call a
shadow program, where they just kind of shadow their counterparts around for a
week or so. ...
Senator Lugar said 84% of the $4.7 million under the Nunn-Lugar program
actually goes to American defense companies. How has it helped the Russians to
get only 16%? What is the purpose of this? Is it a program for American defense
companies, or for Russia?
Well, I was astounded when I got into this in 1996 and saw that over 80%
of those monies were coming back here in the United States. And my initial
thought was: "Hey, this is a WPA program for many large corporations here in
the United States." [It was a] point of great consternation and frustration
with the Russians, because they assumed that majority of these dollars would be
plowed back into their economy, to help their economy. But that's not
happening. Tremendous things are happening with Nunn-Lugar dollars, but if more
of these monies could be spent in Russia, I think it would help their economy a
Do you think it's fueling political resentment over there that we should be
I think so. I think we ought to be concerned about that. But I don't know how
to fix it. This is a very political process, and I haven't gotten into that yet.