THE CLANDESTINE INTRODUCTION OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION INTO THE US

Created: 3/13/1963

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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

Clandestine Introduction of Weapons of Mass Destruction into the US

THE CLANDESTINE INTRODUCTION OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION INTO THE US

THE PROBLEM

To assess Soviet capabilities for the clandestine introduction and delivery of weapons of mass destruction ln the US; and to estimate the likelihood of Soviet resort to this method of attack over the next few years."

CONCLUSIONS

have no evidence of Soviet plans or intentionsthe clandestine introduction of weapons of massThe Soviets are, however, capable of introducinginto the US. Because clandestine production ofand chemical agents in the US is both feasible and lesstheir clandestine introduction, we conclude that thewould consider only nuclear weapons for (Paras. IS)

believe that the Soviets almost certainly wouldthe use of clandestinely" deliveredupplement to other weapons in the context ofwar. We have estimated elsewhere3 that the Sovietsplan deliberately to initiatear. Althoughsee certain advantages in the clandestine use ofif they decided deliberately to initiate an attack inof low tension, they probably would not wish to prejudice

'Herein we arc concerned only with the clandestine introduction ot weapons of mass destruction Into the US prior to the Initiation of hosUliUea.

'See, for example, paragraph IS ot. "Trends In Soviet Foreign2

the element of surprise on which this course of action relies. In the case of pre-emptive attack, introduction concurrentecision to pre-empt would be very difficult. Introductionontingent basis would run the risk of discovery and this risk would multiply with the number of weapons and the length of time that they were in the US. )

as the Soviets build larger missile forcesattacking the US, they mayontinued requirementnuclear attack in conjunction withide variety of US targets would beclandestine nuclear attack, we believe that the Sovietswould focus on the feasibility of attacking targets formissile systems are inappropriate because of aextreme accuracy or the desire to deny warning time.in this category might be key command and controlpossibly some manned alert forces. We believe thatwould consider thatmall number of USbe attacked with greater advantage by clandestinelyweapons than by nuclear weapons delivered byBut in view of the growing number and dispersaldelivery vehicles, the Soviets probably recognize that itimpracticable for them tolandestine nucleara sufficient number of them to reduce substantially thea US strike.

the Soviets are capable of introducingclandestinely into the US, we believe that theof this course of action, when weighed againstof possible detection, make it unlikely thatwill do so. However, there cannot be completethat the USSR will not attempt the clandestineof nuclear weapons into the US.3

'The Assistant Chief oi Staff. Intelligence. USAF; the Director lor Intelligence. Joint Staff; the Assistant to the Director, Federal Bureau ot InvesUgaUon; and the Director ot the NaUonal Security Agency, do not concur in this paragraph.

They teel thai as long as the Soviets have the capability tor clandestine nuelear attack against selected Important largets in the US, with minimal rlsJc. there is not enough evidence to make the judgment that such an attack is unlikely.

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DISCUSSION

I. INTRODUCTION

have no evidence of Soviet plans or intentions regardingintroduction of mass destruction weapons into the US.of the likelihood that the USSR would resort to this formis based upon considerations of Soviet capabilities forprobable Soviet views regarding the relationship of suchother Soviet capabilities for general war. the types of targetsbe clandestinely attacked with advantage, and the risksclandestine attack.

IL CAPABILITIES

USSR canariety of nuclear, chemical, andweapons of mass destruction suitable for clandestineinto the US.

The USSR can produce nuclear devices ranging inone kiloton or less toT. To facilitate clandestinedevices yielding up toT could be designeddownumber of relatively simple and transportableNot much technical skill would be required to reassemblea low-yieldT orreater skill wouldtoeviceT; oncecould be transported in the luggage compartment of ansize, weight, and complexity of megaton devices woulduse except when transportedehicle suchhipruck.

The USSR has an extensive chemical warfarecouldariety of chemical agents suitable forinto the US. However, large quantities would beobtain effective concentrations on most types of targets, andprecise timing would be subject to unpredictable conditionsand weather. Nevertheless, chemical agents could bemall scale against personnel in key installations.of nerve gases ample for this purpose could be clandestinelyin the US without great difficulty or great risk ofagents could not readily be produced in the US andhave to be introduced clandestinely. We believe,the possible advantages of psychogenic agents over nervenot be sufficient in the Soviet view to warrant the risk otintroduction.

Although we know little ol the Soviet biologicalprogram, we believe that the USSR can produce biological agents

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and introduce them clandestinely into the US without great difficulty or great risk of detection. Biological agents could be delivered without Immediate detection and the source of attack would be difficult to identify. Such agents could be used to contaminate water and food supplies or key government buildings. However, the delayed action of biological agents renders them unsuitable for use ln situations requiring an immediate or precisely timed effect. Appropriate agents can be produced in the US without great difficulty or risk.

In view of the relative ease of manufacturing biological warfare agents in the US, we think it unlikely that the Soviets would find it necessary to introduce such agents clandestinely. Chemical warfare agents would be difficult to Introduce and deliver in quantities sufficient to obtain effective concentrations on extensive target areas, while the smaller amounts necessary for selective attacks could be produced ln the US. For these reasons, the following discussion Is limited to aof the clandestine introduction of nuclear weapons.

We do not know how many people are available to the Soviets for the clandestine introduction of nuclear weapons Into the US. but it is unlikely that this factor would limit Soviet capabilities. We know that the Soviet intelligence services haveigh priority to the development of sabotage capabilities in the US; should the Sovietsthe clandestine introduction of nuclear weapons, they almostwould employ the highly trained and reliable agents of these services. They could also employ diplomatic personnel.

uclear weapons yielding upT could be brought into the USariety of means such as by ground or air transport across land borders or at points along US seacoasts. The difficulties of introducing megaton weapons into the US, evenisassembled slate, are probably sufficiently great to seriously discourage such attempts. Moreover, megaton devices could be brought into US waters In submarines or merchant ships and detonated without removal from the ship. Such devices could also be carried in by fishing boats or'similar small craft to which transfer had been made at sea.

ONSIDERATIONS ArrLCTING SOVIfcT INTENTIONS

he Soviets almost certainly recognize the serious consequences which would result from the detection of an attempt to introduce and deploy nuclear weapons in the US. Despite all Soviet precautions, there would always be some risk of detection, arising not only from specific US security measures but also from the chanceS penetration of the clandestine apparatus, the defection of an agent, or sheer accident. The Soviets would expect detection toolitical crisis of the first magnitude, and to preclude any enhance of achieving surprise. In

i ny chance

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their view it might evenS pre-emptive attack which would be disastrous for the USSR

We believe that the USSR almost certainly would not contemplate the use of clandestinely delivered nuclear weapons except as ato other weapons in the context of general war. Wehat the Soviets do not plan deliberately to initiatear. While we cannot completely exclude the possibility that the USSR might deliberatelyurprise attack, our evidence on forces being built and our Judgment of general Soviet policy lead us to regard this as an extremely unlikely course of action over the next few years. To meet the requirements for pre-emptive and retaliatory attack, the Soviets are seeking to gear their capabilities against the US Inay as to enable them to go into action on very short notice. In considering clandestine attackupplement to other weapons, therefore, the Soviets would weigh their ability to initiate such attack rapidly and with little preparation, and in close coordination with the main weight of attack.

We have examined the probable Soviet view of clandestine attack in the caseeliberate Soviet initiation of general war and in the caseoviet pre-emptive attack.

Initiation. The Soviets might see certainthe clandestine use of nuclear weapons if they decidedInitiate attackeriod of low tension Weapons would be ina relatively short time before use. thereby minimizing the riskIn addition, the Soviets could expect that the levels ofprecautions and alertness would not have been raised.we believe that the USSR would recognize that an attemptnuclear weapons clandestinely would Inevitably involveof jeopardizing the element of surprise on which this courserelies.

Attack. It would be very difficult for the USSRnuclear weapons into the US for-usere-emptivedefinition, the circumstances would not allow sufficient time forand delivery of such weaponsecision tothe USSR would not be likely to concludeSimminent unless the situation were so tense that the US. onwould be taking extraordinary security precautions whichincrease the risk that subsidiary clandestine operationsthe main Soviet effort. To be prepared to use clandestinely

'Sec. (or example, paragraph IB ol, "Tiendi in Soviet Foreign3

attack is dMlned as an attack with immediately available forces drjtjticd to seize the lira leu ic tnluaUve from an enemym self preparing lmminenUy to attack.

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Introduced nuclear weapons In this case, the USSR would therefore have to accept the risks of maintaining weapons In the USeriod of time. We believe that the Soviets would recognize that the risks of discovery would multiply with the number of weapons and the length of time that they were ln the US. The USSR almost certainly would not attempt to maintain moremall number of nuclear weapons, If any, in the US for an Indefinite period.0

IV. EFFECTIVENESS AGAINST VARIOUS TARGETS

as the Soviets build larger missile forces capable ofUS, they mayontinued requirement for clandestinein conjunction with long-range attack.ideUS targets would be vulnerable to clandestine nuclear attack,that the Soviets probably would focus on the feasibility oftargets for which their missile systems areequirement for extreme accuracy or the desire to denytime. Targets in this category might be key command andand possibly some manned alert forces. We believe thatwould consider thatmall number of US targets couldwith greater advantage by clandestinely placed nuclearthan by nuclear weapons delivered by other means.

Soviets probably recognize that US security measuresconsiderably higher level of protection against penetration ofthan against delivery of clandestine attacks at the perimetersInstallations. The detonationT nuclear deviceaircraft on the groundistance of several miles. Alaunch control center (hardenedsi> would bea surface burstT weaponistanceeet.'view of the growing number and dispersal of US deliverySoviets probably recognize that it would be impracticablelandestine nuclear attackufficient number otreduce substantially the weightS strike.

he Soviets might believe that key US'Government officials and command centers could be attacked by clandestinely introduced nuclear weapons with greater advantage than by missiles. Nuclear weapons inT range could be used in such an attack. Underpractices with respect to diplomatic immunity, the USSR would incur no appreciable risk of detection in assembling suitable nuclear

objection to advance clandestine introduction of nuclear weaponsre-empUre attack would alsoreparationetaliatory attack

'The Soviets are almost certainly aware that Uinateman control mechanisms arc such that the dcslrucUon o( one launch center could not be counted upon to prevent the firing of theissiles that It controls. Interconnecting controU are provided so that any one of the five launch control centers associatedquadron ofinuteman silos could launch the entire squadron.

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devices in diplomatic premises such aa the Soviet Embassy in Washington. The principal advantage of such an attack would be Its denial of warning time and the muiimal risk of discovery. However, the Soviets could never be sure that key US officials would be vulnerable at atime of detonation, oruccessful clandestine nuclear attack against Washington, for example, would significantlyS decision to release nuclear strike forces.

V. LIKELIHOOD OF CLANDESTINE NUCLEAR ATTACK

lthough the Soviets are capable of introducing nuclear weapons clandestinely into the US, we believe that the limited advantages of this course of action, when weighed against the consequences of possible detection, make lt unlikely that the Soviets will do so. However, there cannot be complete assurance that the USSR will not attempt the clandestine introduction of nuclear weapons into the US.*

"The Assistant Chief of SUIT. Indulgence. USAF: the Director for Intelligence. Joint SUR; the Assistant to tbe Director. Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Director of the National Security Agency, do not concur In this paragraph.

They feel that as long as the Soviets have the capability for clandestine nuclear attack against selected Important targets In the US. with minimal risk, there Is not enough evidence to make the judgment that such an attack is unlikely.

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