Created: 10/31/1991

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The Director of Central IntelligenceC6




Gorbachev's Response to the US Nuclear Initiative: Implications for Soviet Strategic Offensive Forces

major objective of Gorbachev's proposals regarding strategic forces Is to maintain centralized authority over nuclear weapons and to respond to pressure from tbe republics to reduce the economic burden of defense.

a The unilateral Soviet reductionarheads below START levels was motivated In partesire to effect similar reductions in US warheads. We can expect continuing proposals for deeper reductions In strategic nuclear forces and program cutbacks, particularly from Yel'tsin. US policymakers will be faced with continuing pressure lo reciprocate.

Gorbachev cancelled modernization of the rail-mobilehis action probably portends the eventual termination of the rail-mobileCBM program. He alsoew road-mobile ICBM, but did not address several other ballistic missile modernization programs |

Because of impending major reductions in the defense industry, the Soviets' capability lo modernize strategic forces will deteriorate.

The need to ease economic and political problems outweighs Ihe interests of the military and defense industry in shaping decisions on reducing Soviet strategic forces.

This Executive Brief praam Ihe findings of Intelligence Community representativeseeting held ont mi producedby the National Intelligence Officer far StsaH& Pwpams, sruJ oordinated with representatives in CIA, Sute/INH, DlA, NSA. Navy and Air Force.

All rKWliom classified

Soviet Initiatives

his speechctober, President Gorbachev announced numerous unilateral Soviet measures relating to strategic offensive arms in responseresident Bush's unilateral initiatives.

Gorbachev stated that the Soviets would unilaterally reduce their number of accountable strategic warheadsather thanrovided for in START. Moreover, he said they wouldntercontinental ballistic missileissiles with multiple, independently targctable reentry vehiclesrom alert status. Gorbachev's statement reflects reductions since the0 START data exchange, and therefore includes some missiles that had already been deactivated.

Discontinue out-of-garrisonof rail-mobile ICBMs

Not maintain Soviet heavy bombers on alert status.ontinuation of an existing Soviet practice.)

Stop developmentodified nuclear short-range missile for heavy bombers.

Complete the decommissioning of three nuclear ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) and three additional SSBNs.


What He Didn't Say



Single RV MIRVs6000


In addition, Gorbachev announced that the Soviets would:

Despite current political and economic pressures within the Soviet Union and recent Soviet statements on forthcoming massive cuts in defense spending, Gorbachev's speech did notumber of other ongoing strategic programs. For example, he did not address:


Whether Blackjack bomber production would cease. (The rate of production is low and some analysts believe it will soon stop.)

developmentmall mobile ICBM.

Not increase the number of MIRVcd mobile ICBMs beyond current levels.

Whether SSBN construction would cease. (Wc judge there are probably modified Dclta-IV SSBNs under construction, but therehance that the new submarines under

construction are not SSBNs. This program is vulnerable to termination because of anticipated large cutbacks in Soviet defense spending.)

Whether programs to modernize the silo-bascdubmarine-launched ballistic missilesr road-mobile ICBMs (other than the small mobile ICBM he referred to) would be cancelled.

Whether deployment of road-mobile ICBMs and newCBMs would be discontinued. [

If any of these programs already had been cancelled or were in the process of being cancelled, Gorbachev's speech provided an opportunity to publicize such initiatives; however, no announcement was forthcoming, suggesting that they may intend to continue at least some of these programs. Gorbachev may have avoided discussion of these programs, however, because he intends to bold back concessions on them for future negotiations. [

Programmatic Implications

We do not know which small mobile ICBM Gorbachev was referring to when he said that its development had been halted. It could be theollow-on missile we estimated probably had three-warhead and onc-warhcad options, which we believe is ready for flight-testing; or, it could be another system that we projected would begin flight-testing in the. During meetings in Moscow in early October, the Soviets declined to clarify this issue.esult of Gorbachev's statement concerning MIRVcd mobile ICBMs, we judge that if the Soviets proceed with testing anollow-on missile, it will carryingle warhead. i

Gorbachev's pledge that the number of mobile MIRVed ICBMs would not be increased is consistent with Soviet declarations made during the START negotiations that no more thanail-mobileCBMs would fee deployed. Judging by the measures Gorbachev announced, we foresee an end lo the rail-mobilerogram by the, perhaps sooner. |

Gorbachev provided no indication of tbe future status of any silo-based MIRVed ICBM, including thendeed, we have recent evidence that the silo-basedollow-on program is continuing.

However modernization of the silo-based version of theay be at risk.

a Forty-six of theilo-basedre currently deployed in Ukraine.

The program is vulnerable to likely cuts in the defense budget, anticipated problems procuring necessary materials and components, and the potential loss of the final assembly facility in Ukraine.

In any case, the Soviets may plan to eliminate this program as pan of deeper reductions in the future. If they retain and modernize theilo-based

system in Russia, they will either have toinal assembly capabilityussian facility or pay for production from the Ukrainian facility.

The future of theodernization program also is in doubt because about one-third ofilos earmarked for modernization are located in Kazakhstan and because the final assembly facility for this missile is in Ukraine.

While stating that the rail-mobileissiles would henceforth remain in their permanent basing areas, Gorbachev did not say the same thing about the road-mobileCBMs. According to

me Sonets iniena to continue deployments of road-mobile ICBMs for survivability reasons. Perhaps field training for thean be accomplished by trains leaving garrison without launcher railcars, whileannot maintain optimal wartime proficiency without periodic field deployments.

We are uncertain what short-range nuclear irussile for heavy bombers has been cancelled; it might be theissile for the Blackjackeplacement for theissile on older Bear Gs.

decidedly negative. Some Russian officials, however, have been more receptive. Agreeing to this proposal would facilitate rapid progress toward deeper reductions in the total number of warheads, which the Soviets favor. However, it would require the Soviets to abandon their long-standing preference for an advantage in ICBMs. Soviet officials have argued that accepting this US proposalarhead limit would require costly modernization programs they are not prepared to undertake.

The Soviet unilateral reductionarheads below the START levelarheads was motivated in partesire toimilar reduction in US warheads. The Soviets will probably be able to meet most of their traditional world-wide targeting objectives. However, they will fall short of their goals against lower priority targets. Maintaining nuclear warfightingajor goal of Soviet arms control policies-is probably much less important to the political leadership today. For the Center, and even more so for the Russian Republic, the need to ease economic and political problems outweighs the interests of the military and defense industry in shaping decisions on Soviet strategic forces.

Military Implications

Soviet reactions to the US proposal to eliminate MIRVed ICBMs have been

Some of the other actions announced by Gorbachev have limited military significance. Well before the speech wc had predicted significant reductions of older ICBMs and submarines in preparation for START.

of the ICBMs being removed from alert status are older single-RV systems,umber of these have already been deactivated.

The three SSBNs the Soviets were already decommissioning, as well as the three additional SSBNs they announced they would decornniission, are aging Yankee-class submarines already slated for dismantlement

Implications for US Policy

An Uncertain Future

As noted above, wc have great uncertainty in predicting the future of Soviet strategic forces. Given these uncertainties, the following tables are not projections of future Soviet strategic forces, but rather portrayals of how General Staff planners might currently envision options for their forces in thetccountable warhead level in the light of Gorbachev's responses to the US President's initiative. t

can expect continuing proposals, particularly from Yel'tsin, for major reductions in strategic forces below START levels, as well as additional program cutbacks. The Intelligence Community will continue to analyze such measures in the context of how the republic and Center leaders view these efforts as part of their larger agenda of dramatically reducing the burden of defense expenditures. It is not clear whether, or at what point, the Soviets will be forced to make major unilateral reductions in their nuclear forces without regardeciprocal arrangement thereby accepting an obvious asymmetry in the nuclear strength of the two nuclear powers. Therefore, US policymakers will be faced with continuing pressure to address the extent to which the US and its Allies should reciprocate. [

Wc have depicted forces thatraditional mix of ICBMs, SLBMs. and heavy bombers. In addition, because of recent Soviet statementsistorical dependence on ICBMs, we show forces with greater emphasis on this component of their strategic triad. As the Soviets proceed downwardorcearheads, it is possible that they may move awayalanced triadorce relying more heavily on ICBMs. For comparison purposes we showarhead force projected in. T

We have alsodepicting Soviet acceptance ofproposal to de-MIRVmissiles,

Factors considered when developing these tables, althought not explicitly depicted, include:

The extent to which modernization of ICBMs and SLBMs can continue given the current political and economic situation. In showing thendIass ICBMs and theIass SLBM, we have not explicitly depicted the mix between current and modernized systems.

To what extent, if any, modified Delta-IV SSBNs will be deployed.

force structure would be consolidated under major reductions. For example, in the "ICBM Heavy" projections, all SSBN forces would be consolidated in the Northern Fleet.

Whether more than one regiment of Blackjack bombers will be deployed. (The tables show the completion of such deployment at one regiment).

all strategic forces will be removed from Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Kazahkstan.

Illustrative Soviet Strategic Forcesns- Circa MW










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Soviet Siralcgic Forges



















believes tha! based on theorbachcvi response on cuts in ICBM program* and (he continued Center-republic uncertainty, an SLBM- heavy force wouldore likely choke for Center' planners.

Original document.

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