THE CLANDESTINE INTRODUCTION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS INTO THE US (NIE 4-70)

Created: 7/7/1970

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The Clandestine Introduction of Nuclear Weapons into the US

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OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

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THE CLANDESTINE INTRODUCTION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS INTO THE US

THE PROBLEM

To assess the capabilities of foreign nations to introduce nuclear weapons clandestinely into the US, and to estimate the likelihood of such introduction over the next few years.'

THE ESTIMATE

I. INTRODUCTION

In considering the clandestine introduction of nuclear weapons into the US. leaders ol any nation would have tu weigh any possible advantages against the grave consequences which svould follow from discovery. Despite allthere would always be risk of detection arising not only from US security measures, but also fiom the chance of US penetration of the clandestine apparatus, the detection of an agent, nj sheer accident. The enemy leaden would almost certainly judge that use of this tactic would be regarded by thc USarlike act, if notause for war. and that it would precipitate an international political crisis of the first magnitude

We believe, therefore, that no nation would consider this course except possibly in the context of planning an attack on the US, of deterring the US from an attack on itself, or conceivably as an act of deception designed to embroil tlic UShird power. It is inconceivable to us lhat any nation svould plan an altack which relied on the clandestine introduction of sufficient quantities of nuclear weapons toecisive effect on thc outcomear. Any plans for their use, wc believe, would envision (hc use of limited quantities to achieve results unattainable by other means.

'Thu minutenly that poitton ofS. 'Trw Clandestine Introduction ol Weapons of Mas* Dcslruillon Into ui*aicdune. TOl* SECRET, RE-5TR1CTED DATA.pertains to nuclearThe judgments in MM 4b6 regirdiiiR theIntroduction of other urnnonf of mastar*lo be ilill valid.

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Only four foreignUSSH, the UK, France, and Communistdeveloped and tested nuclear weapons. Beyond these, only India and Israel may do so over thc next several years. We can foresee no changes in thc world situation so radical as to motivate the UK, France, or any of the potential nuclear powers lo al tempi to clandestinely introduce nuclear weapons into the US. For this reason, thc balance of (his discussion svill be concerned only with the remaining nuclear powers, the Soviet Union and Communist China.

II. SOVIET AND CHINESE CAPABILITIES

Both thc USSR and Communist China can .produce nuclear weapons svhich could be adapted for clandestine introduction into Ihe US. Wo estimate that the Sovietsroad spectrum of weapons rangingounds in weight andT up to very large ones having yields of many megatons and sveighing thousands of pounds Current Chinese sveapons are probably fairly large and stould probably re-pure more derailed assembly and check out after being brought in than would Soviet designs. The Chinese have introduced plutonium into tbeir weapon design and couldomposite weapon weighingoundsield ofT; they couldeapon in the megaton range weighingounds To date the Chinese have not lo our knowledgeun assembly weapon With their present technology they could develop one yielding about SO KTounds but btvause of tbc heavy requirements of such weapons forthey probably will not do so.

Nuclear weapons wllh weights of upesv thousand pounds could be brought across US Ixirdcts by common means of transport svithout greal diflT-culty but not^itnaut some risk. The difficulties and risks of Introducing larger weapons into the US, evenisassembled slate, are probably sufficiently great to seriously discourage such attempts. Such devices could be carried in by lishing boats or similar .small craft to which transfer had been made at sea. Any weapon could be brought into US waters in merchant ships and detonated without removal from the ship.

ft Soviet capabilities to introduce nuclear weapons secretly are much greater than Chinese. We believe that if either country undertookrogram, tbey would rely on iheir own agent organisations rather than on political sympathizers in the US. Soviet intelligence services haveigh priority to the development of espionage and sabotage capabilities in the US and presumably have formed an organization for Ihe latter purpose Should the Soviets undertake the clandestine Introduction of nuclear weapons, they almost certainly would employ the highly trained and reliable agents of these services, liny could also employ diplomatic personnel and could bring in sveapons or weaponunder diplomatic cover. The large diplomatic establishments in Canada and Mexico could serve us bases for the operation.

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are BO Chinese Communist diplomatic establishments in the US. Canada, or Memo Tlieii absence precludes the use of diplomatic cover for the clandestine introduction ol nuclear weapons or their components and the use of secure diplomatic communications for planning and control of such an operalion; it also makes mote difficult thc introduction and control of agents. Nevertheless, tlse Chinese could introduce agents under tlie guise of bona fide immigrants.

In considering Soviet and Chinese capabilities, we have also considered the possibilityhird country might assist lhe USSK or China in theintroduction of unclear weapons into the US. We consider this highly unlikely on two eounis. We doubt that either the Soviets or the Chinese would seek to enlist the aid of another nation inensitise undertaking. And if tliey should, that nation's leaders would almost certainly react unfavorablyroposal that could Jeopardize their national survival merely to support Soviet or Chinese policy.

TRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS

9 If the Soviet* or Communist Chinese have considered thc cUrtdestineof nuclear weapons into the US. ihey have almost certainly beenby thc same general considerations: thc element of nsk. thefor clandestine Introduction, and the results lhal could be achieved. The Iwo countries, however, occupy vastly different strategic positionsis the US. Ihc Soviets and Chinese, therefore, mighl see Ihe clandestine introduction of nuclear weaponsomewhat different light

Thr USSR. The Soviet leaders. like those of the US, must take account of the possibility of general war in their military planning. In such planning, tbe Soviets would consider the clandestine mtrodiiction of nuclei/ weapons into the US. if at all.upplement lo the main attack by their large strategic attack forces Because they have already achieved an assured retaliatorytbey would probablylandestine emplacement effort asuseful only in supporteliberate or pre-emptive. Soviet attack and directed loward delaying orS retaliatory attack. Possible targets might include Important government headquarters, key military command and control facilities, missile detection and tracking radars, and possibly some alert forces. The Soviets would recognize, however, that even if such an effort were successful, it could not prevent US^tetaliatinn or reduce it to what ihey would consider an acceptable level

In considering clandestine altackupplement to other weapons, the Soviets would hav* to weigh their ability to initiate such attack rapidly, with little preparation, and in close coordination with the main weight of attack. Thus,replanned attack clandestinely introduced "lajun would have lo be in position at the time the attack was launched In thc canre-emptive

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attack tlic circumstances would not allow sullxlent time fot the introduction and delivery of such weaponsecision to preempt. To prepare for (his contingency beforehand, the Soviets would have to accept the risk ofweapons in thc US for an Indefinite period of lime. These difficulties would not obtain if tlse USSR decided dclilicrately to initiate general wareriod of low tension, weapons could be introduced into theelatively short time beforeut lhe Soviets would have to consider the ristoj KClwdp-iyy^he el erne nlsurprise on which this course of action relies, and lhat discovery would have severejmd unpirdu table icpeicussiuns, possiblySattack which would bo disastrous for the USSK. For these reasons, wc think il highly unlikely that the USSII will attempt to introduce nuclear weapons clandestinely into tbe US.

China. Tlse Chinese have no capability at present to attack S with nuclear weapons They probably have an ICBM system invtai[es of development, which could liesome operational several years

Irom now. In the interim, they nuglil see some advantages iu clandestinelyand cmplacing nuclear weapons in the US Inasmuch as they could not deliver such an attackcale sufficient toecisive militarytheir object would presumably be to deter the USourse of action that gravely threatened their national security. Consequently, the most likely targets would be popuLation centers

Clearly, the Chinese would also see grave disadvantages Inove. So long as the US was unaware of Iheir existence, lhe concealed weapons would have no effect upon its actions Indeed, the nsk of their discovery would he an ever-present, continuing danger tn the Chinese themselves. Once thc Chinese announced that nuclear weapons were empbuvd in the US, tbc announcement would touch off an intensive search and extraordinary secunty measuresthe Chinese cfiiilrl nrM fa jotrlhc US would.art he dr-ti;pfd On the one hand, the US might consider such an unverified announcementere bluff. On the other it might lake ihe clandestine Introduction of such weaponsant! belli and, having taken such actions as it could to safeguardevastating nuclear attack on Chma. In any case, the US would almost certainly seelender the clandestinely introduced weapons unusable by threatening and preparing toevastating retaliatory attack in the event of their use. It is concciv able that some Chinese regime might be willing to accept such risks of national destruction, but we think it highly unlikely.

Finally II is conceivably thai the Chinese Communists might seek tointo theuclear device with the intention of detonating it under certain ljin*tc.enod of great tnisioti between the US and thein hopes lhat it would lead US aulhoribcs lo conclude that thc action had been perpetrated by the Soviets Alternatively, the Chinese Communists might think it worthwhile to introduce Into thenclear device so constructed as lo

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tof Soviet origin, and intended not to be detonated but to beby US authorities. In the first case, the purpose would be tolreCOnd'ould beoducecrisis between thethecrisis which could serve Chinese interests. But it iswould succeed; thc procedures would be subjectflic other difficulties discussed above, and we consider it highly unlikelyChinese would attempt

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