Military and Economic Considerations Behind the Soviet Interest in Strategic Arms Talks
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Directorate of Intelligenceuly8
Mili tary and Economic Considerations Behind Tho Soviet interest in Strategic Arms Talks
The Soviet decision to begin strategic arms limitation talks with tho United Statesoint of convergence for widely differing views within the Kremlin leadership on internal economic goals, military force structure, and the use of military power.
Central to the disagreement is the prospect that the relationship of Soviet to US strategicthe Soviets have improved in tho past few years through expensive weaponsand deploymenterode ins as the US implements widely publicized plans for improving its strategic weapons. There is probably considerable doubt within the ruling Politburo about the technical prospects andoffects of trying to counter theseat this time with new weapons programs.
Basic policy controversies may be sharpened as Soviot leaders attempt to formulate positions to be taken in the talks and decide what to do with the freed resources after an arms limitation agreement. Some Politburo members probably hope to divert resources from strategic arms toprograms. reeze on deployment of strategic
emorandum vas produced solely by CIA It vas prepared by the Office of Strategic Hesean and coordinated vith the Offices of Current Intel gence. Economic Research, and National Estimates.
weapons could eventually release as much asillion rubles atoercent of the total investment in industry inother objectives, such as economic growth or an increase in funds for consumer welfare. It is also possible that strong elements within the Politburo see the prospect of stabilizing the strategic arms race as an opportunity to improve Soviet conventional forces and makeore flexible and responsive arm of political power.
The military has not publicly placed its stamp of approval on the talks. On the contrary, it has continued to stress the theme ofdangers and the concomitant requiromcnt for strengthened Soviet defenses. There are, moreover, signsebate in military circles whether to pursue further improvements in strateg capabilities or to settletable strategic relationship and broaden the capabilities of the conventional forces.
The Kremlin View of the Future US-Soviet Strategic Relationship
Recent decisions in the US concerning the Sentinel ABM system probably were read by Soviet leaders as indicating that the US is willing to continue the strategic arms race despite pressures for economizing. Onune, Foreign Minister Gromyko included in his address to the Supremetatement of Soviet readiness to hold arms control talks." This was followed the next weekine-point disarmament proposal by Premier Kosygin.
While the USSR currently is in the final stages of its third-generation ICBM deployment and has an effective deterrent, this capability will begin to erode in thes if Moscow does not match announced US plans for upgrading its strategic defense and attack capabilities with the Sentinel, Poseidon, and Minuteman III programs. The USSR will have to improve its strategic forcesormaintain its current position relative to the US.
3- What is probably most ominous to the Soviet authorities is that planned US force improvements may threaten the Soviet capability for deterrence. Thus they are faced with the possibility thatall their planning, effort, and spending on strategic forces over the lastears, they will still have reason to be dissatisfied with the future strategic relationship.
"* Movement on the decision to enter into strategic arms talks was first presaged in Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov's pril UN proposal for and subsequent reduction of strategic arms, soviet media remained silent on Kuznetsov's proposal until he reiterated the line for arms limitations tn another ill! speech on ay. Gromyko's une acceptance of us proposals to talk was promptly published tn the Soviet press, with the notable exception of the militaryindication that important pressure groups within the military had not become reconciled to the Soviet policu chance over the previous two months.
Guns or Growth: Alternative Uses of Economic Resources
such strategic considerations Soviot leaders could have come to tho conclusion
that they had much to gain by breaking theof indecision on accepting US proposalson strategic arms limitations. Thea whole, however, probably opted for talkstime because of divergent policy viewsstill unresolved controversieseconomic goals, military forcethe utility of various forms and levelspower. Indeed, basic policy issuessharpened as political leaders struggle toconsensusoherent negotiating positionfor arms control unfold.
Even the announcement of Soviet willingness to negotiate has exposed differences of opinion among loading spokesmen and interest groups. The government organ Izvestiya has endorsed the arms control initiatives contained in the speeches of Foreign Minister Gromyko and Premier Kosygin. Party chief Brezhnev endorsed the talksuly, but qualified his approval atuly military graduates' assembly when ho reasserted the military spenders' line that "as long as imperialism exists" the socialist countries will take "every measure to strengthen their defense." The military press has chosen to highlight the harsher aspects of Brezhnev's line, while remaining silent on the desirability of arms limitations.
One issue likely to be divisive among the top Soviet leaders is the matter of where toany resources freed by an agreement. Owing to the vagaries of Kremlin politics, there is no basis for predicting exactly how tho Soviet leadership might utilize the resources released by an agreement to limit the expansion of strategic forces.
It Is possible that among those Politburo members who favor negotiations, strong elements see stability in strategic armaments, if achievable, as an opportunity to turn conventional military
forcesore flexible, efficient arm of political power. Strategic power, nevertheless, appears to hold top priority among these men, some of whom may press for continued qualitativeof the existing strategic forces and an intensification of research and development on new weapon systems. Some Politburo members may not seriously expect that talks would, over the long run, be successful in stabilizing matters. But in the short run, the Politburohole probably has serious reservations about the technical and economic desirability of countering currentlyUS weapons improvements. The majority could thus regard strategic arms talks at this timeay, at the least, of exploring the US position
theQ delay USat little cost to
group within theadvocates of economicmakecaseajor reallocation from defense
to the civilian economy at the present time. Increase: in consumer welfare, coming on top of expandedexpenditures, are necessarily being accomplished at the expense of investment. The Soviet leadership is thuS running the risk or slowing down the rate of economic growth, that is, of impairing future capacity for supporting military as well as civilian programs. Moreover, the substantial increases in defense spending that would be necessary to halt the erosion of the present Soviot strategic position would almost certainly cause long-term economic problems.
precise calculation of the potential
ontemPlated arms control agreement cannot be made until the detailed terms of the
ofrthr^carK,aVailable* Aappreciation of the possible savings can be obtained, however,
of future Soviet expendi-
hGof certain *
pons systems-long range bombers, strategic missile and space systems, ballistic-
suSmerines' and theassuming that there wouldomplete moratorium on further
enditures on the averageillionear for the period of
thes. This calculation assumes that the Soviets maintain their current high levels of expenditures for research and development, space efforts, and nonstrategic defense programs.
10. The allocation of the presumed savings in defense expenditures to industrial investment programs wouldase for accelerated growth in thebillion rublesaboutercent of total Soviet investment in industry Since these particularinclude the best managerial and technical talents available, their contribution to the sorely needed modernization of the Soviet economy would probably be even greater than indicated by monetary measures alone.
The Military Debate: Strategic Power Versus Usable Power
professional military may havein mind. In fact, they seem to be
of at least two minds on the goals to be sought: one, toostly attempt tomassiverirst strike, capability; two, to settletable strategic relationship through an arms limitation agreement and toand expand conventional capabilities to permit more flexible application of military power. Perhaps the division within the military leadershipconjunction with the other considerations mentionedthe decision to discuss arms limitations at this time.
any rate, future force structurewithin the Soviet military havea particularly polemical tone. For I. Grudinin writing in the late Mayof Communist of the Armed-Forces referredauthors" who fail to emphasize the"overwhelming" strategic superiority. Into Grudinin-likc arguments. Colonel tlie planning chief on the Soviethad noted two months earlier that"massivebecome "quite unrealistic and unconvincing."
The Povaliy article, in thearch Red Star, observed that NATO and the United States endorse the policy of fighting future wars with the weapons that "correspond to the nature of the possible clash." It went on to stress that the "imperialists" will continue to try to achieve their goals with the use of only conventional weapons or tactical nuclear weapons. Under the concept of more flexible options, according totate need not run the risk of nuclear war "in every situation in which its allies become involved" and can pursue its own military-political objectives with the least threat to its security.
Certain military leaders are wary of the current trend in Soviet doctrine toward rejection of the "massive retaliation" doctrine as theof Soviet strategy. They have argued that the use of conventional forces does not undermine the reliance on nuclear weapons. The development
of strategic attack forces, in their view,to command priority. Advocates ofretaliation" viewtrongthe Soviet military.
"Oia KUssian generals d
trategy oi immediate
all-out nuclear retaliation, uninfluenced by any of the recent military doctrines advanced in the US and elsewhere.
IS. One well-known old Russian marshal, the late V. D. Sokolovskiy,roponent of strong strategic nuclear forces. His book Military Strategy, reissued late last year, reflected the view that any war between nuclear powers will "inevitably" escalateeneral nuclear conflict. The initial period of war will be decisive, the marshal claimed. He added that the Soviet Union will be able to detectsurprise nuclear attack" and must have the means to deal thecrushing blow of decisive significance."
Sokolovskiy's views appear to be under attack ithin the military establishment by advocateslexible-response strategy. One such advocate mentioned above. Colonel General Povaliy, remarked