Habiger Praises Russian Nuclear Security

June/July 1998

Upon returning from his May 31–June 6 trip to Russia, General Eugene Habiger, commander-in-chief of U.S. Strategic Command, once again expressed his strong confidence in the safety and security of the Russian nuclear arsenal. During a June 16 Defense Department briefing, Habiger described his visits to five major Russian nuclear facilities: an SS-19 ICBM base at Kozel'sk, a national nuclear weapons storage facility at Saratov, a bomber base at Engels, an SS-25 road-mobile ICBM base at Irkutsk and a naval base at Severomorsk. Habiger said he was impressed with the stringent security measures implemented at each of these facilities, even though Russian security policies (such as relying more heavily on manpower than technology) differ from those of the United States. Habiger reached similar conclusions about the strength of the Russian nuclear command and control system during his last trip to Russia in October 1997. (See ACT, October 1997.)

Habiger also discussed the status of Russian ratification of START II. Based on his discussions with senior military officials, Habiger said the Russian Duma currently has three main concerns regarding START II: U.S. ballistic missile defense activities, U.S. capability to break out of the treaty by "uploading" warheads on ICBMs, and receiving assurances from the Yeltsin administration that the nuclear forces will have stable funding.