Created: 9/16/1965

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Soviet Capabilities for Concealing Strategic Weapon Programs




The following intiliifltnci oryonizorionjn (he preporof/on of fhii *sfimaf*i

T'-fl Control Intelligence Agency ond th* Intelligence orgonliotlon* ol in*rre-.ii of Slate, Defenie, AK. and NSA.


Director ol Intelligent* ond Research. Depoftment of Store Director, OeUnse Intell'igenteThe Atom* EnergyRepresentative toUSIR Director of the Notional Security Agency


The Aultfoni to the Director, Federal Bvreou o* Inrewlganon, th* subject being ounldt of Kb jurisdiction.


This mriarkil containsDefensa of th* United State* wrrhln the moonlnc, ofionage, th* (ror* roinion or revelation of which in anyto on unouthorii



Soviet Capabilities for Concealing Strategic Weapon Programs




To estimate Soviet capabilities for secTetly developing andstrategic weapon systems and to examine factors bearing onintentions in this regard, over the next few years,


In this estimate, we ajsumc that Western collection efforts willat approximately their present levels. Soviet capabilities for concealing strength under terms of an inspection agreement have not been considered, since these capabilities would have to be assessed in detail in relation to each of the many possible forms which such an inspection agreement might take. We have, however, considered in general the effect which arms control might have upon Soviet

In this estimate "conceal men l" is defined as an effort designed to limit Western knowledge of Soviet military programs. Its usualo induce an underestimate of Soviet capabilities. It would also hamper targeting and reduce Western ability to develop counter-measures to Soviet weapons systems.



By definition,he USSR should achieve complete and successfulof weapons systems, the /act would be unknown to US intelligence unless and until the Soviets chose to reveal it It cannot, of course, be conclusively proven that successful concealment of this sort has not happened. It must be acknowledged at the outset that successful concealment is and willossibility.

The Soviets have instituted concealment measures in all phases of their strategic weapons programs. The extent of these efforts and their success have varied from program to program and even within programs. In general,the Soviets have been moat successful fn denying information on strategic weapons programs in the research and development phase They have been less successfulrogram progresses to systems testing, and have not. we believe, been able to conceal any large-scale deployment programs.

3 To some extent, these concealment efforts of the Soviets represent an extension of the devotion to secrecy that permeates their society. This factor alone would account for Lhe rigorous physical security measure protecting strategic weapons facilities from observation by nearby inhabitants, as well as by clandestine agents or attaches.

Such concealment efforts ai the Soviets have undertaken appear to have been directed toward hiding precise locations in Operational deploymentystem and denying information on its characteristics. They clearly know of some of the various advanced intelligence collection methods employed by the US and almost certainly suspect the existence of others. But complicating Soviet concealment efforts is the variety of collection programs employed by the West which, in the process of all source analysts, resultsotal body of intelligence greater than the sum of its parts. Thus, to beoviet effort completely totrategic weapon program wouldomplex and generally costly variety of safeguards. We believe that they now have insufficient incentive to undertake such an effort.

On the other hand, it is unlikely that Soviet efforts to conceal certain aspects of their strategic weapons programs will diminish, and they may increase. We cannot predict the extent to which contemplated improvements in US collection capabilities may be offset by an intensification of Soviet concealment efforts. But even if the Soviet* undertake no additional measures, we consider it unlikely that our ability to detect, identify, andew weapon system in thestage of development will improve. For the foreseeable future, new Soviet weapon systems are likely to have been under development for several years before they are detected in testing or in deployment, and the increasingly complex technology of modem weapons will probably lengthen further the time between initial research and deployment.


believe that ibeave, or could develop, greatercenceelrMDi ihen they have practiced, aadfa possible that theirchange. If they ihoukl come lo beb*ve thai the credibility of their deterrent

a well-established, they may Increase concealment activity in order to improve their retaliatory capabilities. While it ia difficult to fnrace technologkal bmek-Ihroiighs, we consider it improbable that ihey could successfully conceal the deployment of strategic weapons in such numbers as to alter significantly the present strategic relationship.

The preceding pa raps phi have discussed Soviet concealment primarily in the context of past and present conditions, that fa. without an arms central agreement. In general, we do not foresee that an anas control argeement would significantly affect eiiltfr US intelligence capabilities or Sovietcapabilities except as specific provisions might facilitate or discourage particular modes of intelligence collection or inspection. The effectiveness ol aoy specific provisions of the agreement would depend on their content and tha machinery for enforcing them, and cannot be estimated in the abstract. Certain general consideration* can, however, be set forth

Tbe cosxhuaoo of an arm* control agreement would probably signify that the Soviets had decided lo accept, at leastme, the strategic balance envisaged in the agreement. However, the Soviets might conclude such an agreement in hopes ol freezing US strategic furces while secretly trying to build up their own. In the first case, they might subsequently decide that, because of International developments or for other reasons, they requitedlarger forces. In such circumstances they might choose to abrogate an agreement openly rather than lo attempt to evade its provisions; theyimilar action during the Berlin crisis1 when they ended the moratorium on nuclear trstfrvg. If they decided to abrogate, they would emvwt reriainly make secret preps rationsesumption of the arms competition in advance of the announcement.

evertheless, under certain arms control agreements, the Soviets might lee concealment astrategic advantage which was worth the risk. If, for example, the US and the Soviet Union ihoukl be limited by anto smaii numbers of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles, possession of even'a few additional vehicles could significantly change the strategic equation, depending on tha provisions of ihr agreement, and the rules for policing it, they might assess the risk of detection as small, but they could hardly dismiss it as non-extstent. And Ihey would have to eonitder that if the concealed forces were detected, the arms control agreements would be abrogated Inpolitically disadvantageous to them, and the West would make strenuous efforts to redress any real or presumed disparity.

he Soviets should employ concealment to violate the arms contra! treaty, we believe that their aim would be to change the strategic balance. Any smaller stakes would hardly justify the risks. Such an effort would imply


a Soviet decision to accept the complexity and coat of an all out concealment effort, thus degrading thr reliance we could have in our detection capabilities. Even in the face ol determined Soviet concealmenthereood chance that violations involving large scale tnting or deployment would be detected, but thb cannot be guaranteed. In view oi our limited capabilities to detect tbe early phase* of weapons programs, we cannot assure detection sufficiently timely to preclude artamrnent by the Sovietsignificant lead in acquiring an Increased strategic capability.

ur capabiUtiea for defecting smaller accretions to Soviet strategic strength are much less certain, especially in an arms control environment, and. depending upon the terms of any arms control agreement, even smallcould be significant. Somo such accretions might be detected hut we cannot give assurance that any would be,



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