Created: 1/1/1977

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Status and Implications of tho BAM Railroad


I. The Soviet Unioa istcr-. long railroad in Eastern Siberiaug.jsd terrafn that will produce major economic and strategic benefits.

A. The now line, which will complete the Baikal-Amur Mainline or BAM, will opsn up valuable Siberian mineral and timber resources in thendack-up for the vulnerable Trans-Siberian, which lies close to the Sino-Soviet border (See The line will also give the Soviets added logistical capability to supply military units in the PacificI. The economic implications of the rail lino are far-reaching. Access, to valuable new mineral resourcese gained or at least improved. A. These include copper-oro deposits estimatedillion tons in the Udokan fountains; high caloric coking coal south of Yakutsk, and iron ore at Aldan* natural gas in the Vilyuy basin, ond oil in theens region; and large deposits of asbobtos, phosphate, mica, gold, tin, and vast timber resources.



B. The Bju'I will open an economiczone moreilonetors vide ond will foster

. construction of new north-south transportation


routes that will provide access to undeveloped ureas beyond tha zone. Development withinone nay ultimately rival the leading industrial complexes in the USSR.

A newomplex is envisioned, as well as energy-intensive industries for chemicals, aluminum, and magnesium.

Increased regional demand for manufactured products will also encourage development of machine building and diverse light industries.

2. Several nations, including Japan and the US. have been invited to participate in ioirit development efforts. Only Japan has indicated


interest by investing in coal and timber


III. Construction of tbJj-BAM was startedduring World War II, and resumed after the war using Japanese POWs.

A. The project was again halted in tiie

with the death of Stalinhift in notional economic priorities. By thatilometors had been completed at thetcTrn^and western ends.

4 the Soviet regime declared the BAN one of the twof the loth Five-yeararget date. (The other was the redevelopment of agriculturalJjyli-onmental conditions along the DAM route pose serious hindrances to the construction effort. Rugged mnnnt-'nns call for extensive ; tunneling and brftdaino from Lake Baikalilometers, and earthquakes and avalanches are common in the mountains. The route crosses permafrost, which requires special construction techniques. Waterlogged lowlands in summer and low temperatures in winteradditional problems.

IV. Work is now simultaneously under way in three sectors:

ilometer-long western sector^ some

, filometers of track laid

operable. ailroad bridge spans tlie previously unbridged Lena River, and five new workers1 settlements*-are complete.

the central0 kilometers),town of _Tynda has been butlt with abase and an administrative headquarters



for tho BAM Three railroad ridgos and aboubilometers of track have also been completed but ore not yet operable.

the eastern sector,f theof track have bean laid, und a

railroad bridge is under construction someilometers west of Urgal.

construction activities arealong the route such asbuilding access roads,camps, and constructing culverts andof railroad bed. There are,stretches of tho planned route,in the most difficult terrain, whereactivity is evident.

Ih terms of labor and capital expenditures, the BAM construction project has no modern counterpart outside China. More thanillion workers and dependents are reportedly involved with the project. Published Soviet estimates place the oveiall construction cost at that of tho


m. Hr. President, the increased need for Siberian resources and the sensitive and unpredictable state of Sino-Soviet relations make it seem most likely that thi3 tine the Soviets will complete thene. The extreme difficulty of theand* the Soviets' previous performance in railroad construction projects, however, leadus to believe that their target date3 is optimistic. ore likely completion date wouldS or later.

Baikal-Amur Mainline Railroadl

Original document.

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