Created: 11/1/1991

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Soviet Tactical Nuclear Forces and Gorbachev's Nuclear Pledges: Impact, Motivations, and Next Steps

Interagency Intelligence Memorandum



Soviet Tactical Nuclear Forces and Gorbachev's Nuclear Pledges: Impact, Motivations, and Next Steps

tnftxmatfon available as otas used in tlte preparation of ihis Memorandum.

The foOowmg UveAffance organizations participated in the preparation of this Memorandum:

The Central Intelligence? Agency

The Defense Intethgonc. Agency

The National Security Agency

The Bureau of Inleflioflnco and Research.

Depaamentol Stoio

also panieipating:

The Director ol Novoi intoOigoncfl.

Department ol tho Navy

The Assistantof Staff. Intelligence.

Department ol iho Air Force

Memorandum was approved lor publication by the Cha-rmen. National uueOgetico Council.

Soviet Tactical Nuclear Forces and Gorbachev's Nuclear Pledges: Impact, Motivations, and Next Steps

If Gorbachevs unilateral initiatives lo reduce tactical nuclear warheads are carried out, almostercent of Moscow's inventory of these warheads will be destroyed or placed in central storage.

If Gorbachev's reciprocal proposals are implemented, all of tbe Sovicl inventory of Uclical nuclear warheads will be destroyed or placed in central storage.

The elimination process will take at least several years.

Soviet arms control positions probably are not fully worked out, but in the future Sonet negotiators are likely to become morend abandon most old agenda items with the exception of dual-capable aircraft and the nuclear weapons of other countries.

Key Judgments

The Potential Impact of Gorbachev's Proposals

The withdrawal of many Soviet units from Eastern Europe and reductions in the size and number of unils within Ihc Ailamic-to-the-Urals zone that have occurred over the past two years already haveharp decline in thc number of tactical nuclear systems in Soviet forces opposite NATO.

Presidentctober proposals, if implemented, furtherthat process. Wc estimate lhat unilateral measures will leadf tbe

tactical nuclear warheads in Moscow's

tactical naval nuclear warheads will be moved to central storage.

A unilateral reduction on this scale will:

Eliminate the nuclear capabilily of Soviet Ground Forces.

Increase the amount of time the Soviet Navy will require to arm its ships, submarines, and aircraft with nuclear munitions.

Take al least several years to implement.

Reciprocal measures proposed by Gorbachev would, if implemenlcd:

Eliminate the tactical nuclear capability of the Soviet Navy.

Limit the air forces' quick-response tactical nuclear capability by placing warheads in central storage.

Motivations Behind the Proposals

The speed and content of Gorbachev's response to President Bush's initiative ofeptember reftcct the high priority Soviet officials place on nuclear security:

Elimination of all nuclear artillery projectiles and shoit-rangc ballistic missile (SRBM) warheads will remove most of the tactical nuclear warheads located in non-Russian republics.

Gorbachev is using thc US proposal lo reasseri himselfeliable and credible negotiating partner, but his capability to fulfill completely his own proposals is questionable.

The Future of Soviet Tactical Nuclear Weapons and Negotiating Positions Dismantling and destroying nuclear watheadsomplex and time-consuming process, and any new union, therefore, is likely toactical nuclear capabilily for lhe foreseeable future.

i fit

Because of conliauiiit imrxcrvcments in conventional weapon systems. Ihe senior Sovki leadership has probably concluded thai tactical nuclear warheads can be climinaied or stored without significantly cotnprcenising lhe war-fighting capabilities they wiU rcquirc-

The Soviets probably have not had enough time to think out fully their nc-godating positions. We believe the Soviets are likely to:Be less insistent on old agenda items and display considerable flexibility, while trying to preserve tbe option to revisit issues, especially those affected by evolving relations between thc center and theow-key approach to further negotiations to avoid kindling thc interest of republic leaders in becoming full players in formal talks.

Carryovers from the old Soviel agenda, however, will include concern about US dual-capable aircraft and inclusion of other countries in discussions of tactical nuclear systems. This posture mayreater concern aboul proliferalion to the south and on the continent than about the United Kingdom and France,

inimum, the Soviets wiUxocess of co.-isultaiioas during all Phases of thc implementation of US and Soviet reductions. Tbcy probably will also seekperhapsin dismantling and destroying warheads.

Disarray in Moscow and evolving political relations will complicate the negotiating process for some time Elements in the military may still beand theRussia. Kazakhstan, anda greater say in the Kremlin's nuclear decisionmakine

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