A Federal Case II; 6; Behind the SALT Talks
This is a federal case. From Washington D.C. the National Educational radio network brings you an examination of current issues facing our nation and its capital city. Here is an E.R. and correspondent by Chamberlain. Dr. Ralph ALAP is a nuclear physicist who has been in close touch with America's nuclear weapons program since it began. He joined the Manhattan Project in 1943 when it was in one small room. He worked on the first atomic bombs and the early stages of the missile delivery program. He is now an independent scientist who works occasionally as a consultant to the government. Dr leper remains deeply concerned with the direction of American armament and especially with the disarmament talks resuming with Russia in Helsinki. Dr Laub sees opportunities for progress and danger as well in the SALT talks. Salt is the acronym for Strategic Arms Limitation talks. His overall view is a blend of careful
optimism for the long range future and pessimism for the next year or so. I believe that the most probable thing to come out of Helsinki is another phase of the stalled talks continuing on through the next year well in through 1971. Dr. lapse is a more specific area of potential agreement. The only discussion I have seen is that there will be an agreement between the Soviets and the Americans on the basis of a launcher are to count that the Russians would for example freeze their deployment of the SS 9 missile at three hundred which is their present level. We would agree not to make any more a minute man. We have a thousand. As Dr Laub sees it there are two basic reasons to expect some form of agreement. I have talked to a number of the Russians this year. They seem very optimistic that we're going to get an agreement that's all amazingly optimistic one told me flatly. We're going to have an agreement. But when I queried him as to what would be the nature of the agreement I got no
answer. Perhaps more important in Dr. Lapps opinion are domestic American political reasons. It seems to me it will be a great political plum for a president to be able to say that he was able to reach an agreement with the Soviets a stark agreement on the basis of turning the tide in the arms race after all. We have not done anything really to stem the tide of the arms race. Dr. Alaa believes that a SALT agreement is actually a political necessity. If Mr. Nixon wants to stay in office he's got to have funds available for non defense purposes. He's got to keep the defense budget within bounds if he doesn't get some kind of solid agreement he can't keep the defense budget down I think the simple is that Dr. lept does not necessarily favor the limited disarmament agreement he thinks is possible. He feels that any meaningful treaty would have to cover not only the launchers of the concrete and steel silos and the rockets but also what the rockets carry into the sky. It is rather senseless to talk about just the number of launchers or as they say the
tubes. As the index of an arms control agreement when in point of fact each side worries about a first strike from the other nation and a first rank is dependent not upon the number of launchers primarily but basically upon the number of warheads nuclear explosives that can be hurled. When you talk about a first strike you don't see the first guy to pull the nuclear trigger. You mean a capacity to wipe out the other guy when you do that. No nation in its right mind and I suspect not even in half its right mind would want to launch a first strike at an enemy unless it had made a very careful calculus of its ability to knock out enough of the enemy's strategic weapons so that the inevitable return fire would not produce unacceptable damage on its own homeland. While I'm on this point how close to an agreement do you think we are on a four years of the number of launchers.
Well I think we're still a long way from this because I think in the moment you try to do this then we will have to discuss what it means. Let me get down to what I consider the phoniness of the administration's argument on the bargaining chip with respect to the ABM or safeguard to which was passed this summer. This is a it was argued that the president has to be given his hand in getting the second phase of safeguard to put more ABM has more of their ballistic missiles in Missouri and ultimately at a Forsyte in Wyoming to defend our Minuteman missiles. The concept here being that if the Russians will agreed to freeze the SS 9 then we will agree not to deploy our ABM. Now if this is a kind of agreement we come up with at Helsinki then I think we'd better have our heads examined. Because you see if we agree to give up the ABM with out any agreement from the standpoint of the Russians that they will limit the striking power of the SS 9 and
this now involves nerve multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicle. Unless we can get an agreement on Murphy then the 300 SS Nine's can purl if the Russians want to a six or seven warheads each of which is a million tons in power. This would give them with 300 of them an agreed upon quota under the SALT talks would give them a capacity to hurl maybe 2000 warheads. And I believe this would be unacceptable to the military based upon the rationale that they have set up. So I believe that until we talk Merve we simply aren't talking sense about salt. Dr. alaap would not only be dissatisfied with a freeze on the number of rockets he would actually consider that dangerous if that agreement cannot produce confidence on both sides that there is a cooling off of the arms race that neither the Soviet Union nor the United States. It's going to increase its strategic strength if that doesn't happen
then what you're doing is you're having a kind of blanket agreement over something concealing the hidden arms race which will go on anyway. Look when we put what we talk about an arms race and we hear constantly about from a number of officials the United States saying that we have not increased our strategic power. In fact we have even they say decreased in relative to the Soviet Union have markedly decreased it. They forget that the United States by the mid 1970s will have a throne capacity of almost ten thousand individual warheads. Now it's true we haven't increased the Minuteman force for some years but we have. Excited the technology and then deployed the mergers which expand this this is the hidden arms race. I'm talking about now unless we could unless we have some reasonable basis for cooling off the arms race for really stemming the tide the arms race. We are simply putting a glossy coat over this whole thing and
saying well we both agreed not to do worse than we have. Whereas in fact unless we have the inspection which will give us assurance that there isn't this hidden escalation going on what have we done. I think we've given ourselves false assurances inspection is the key word here. Dr lap would not mind a launcher is only free is if he felt it would lead to something bigger. His fear is that American hostility to on site inspection of our missiles will be a sticking point at Helsinki. If in fact we agree that we will say the Russians stop at three hundred for the SS 9 freeze their present SS 11 and 13 that we will also freeze. This might be a good first step but the Russians are liable to counter by saying but you're ahead of us in Merc technology and we must couple this agreement with an agreement that the United States will not deploy any of the nerves on board Minuteman 3 which is the
type of Minuteman that will carry three warheads. So as I understand your version of the United States position it is that America would be willing to offer as its position. A ban on launchers for use on launchers that would not include any application of Merv. That is your right but what the American position I feel the Russians won't go for anything unless it does include murder which they're behind in. Well the Russians often aren't talking Mervin neither are we. I believe this is consistent with the Sabia policy they do not talk about that which they do not have they do not have murders yet. They will have to have more tests. We have tested nerve through the research and development phase. We are presently deploying and have been since June of 1970 Merv's in North Dakota at our minute Banfield. Now here is where the very tricky part of this comes in. If the Russians look at us and say well now how can we trust you. Not to deploy any more Minuteman 3 nerves. They must
need something. There must be you know this can't just be good faith. The Russians must need some kind of inspection system because you see their worry might be that Minuteman 3 can be a first strike weapon. Now this has been denied because we say we don't have the enormous SS 9 capacity that they Russians have. I'm Minuteman hurdles in a single warhead only 1 million tons of TNT and then a manned one. Double that in Minuteman too. But in Minuteman 3 we can hurl three warheads each of which is two tenths of a megaton. Well the argument that has been phrased in technical terms in the Pentagon is that our heads are too low in power and do not have the accuracy to make them a first strike. But I submit that this is really all mixed up because in a speech delivered on September 22nd in Washington DC by General John D Ryan chief of staff of the US Air Force before the Air Force Association convention General Ryan said in this the most critical area I'm quoting now in the most critical area of strategic
office we are scoring a measure of qualitative improvement in the ICBM force to the introduction of Minuteman 3. This missile with a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle will be our best means of destroying time urgent targets like the long range weapons of the enemy. Now time urgent target like the long range weapons must mean SS Nine's I know no other no other explanation for this which is an admission from the chief of staff the US Air Force that Minuteman 3 has a first strike weapon in this case the United States is far ahead of the Soviet Union in technology. If we wished to conclude an agreement with the Russians saying all right we understand you haven't tested the Merv and will agree to an atmospheric test ban so that science will say we won't test and you can use your national systems our long range radars for a test ban of Merve that already got them over to us by Jack they are in general an atmospheric test ban a
birth from our standpoint this would be enough. But from the Russian standpoint they can say well what do we get out of this you have already tested nerve to the point where you'd applying them. Therefore our inspection system must be geared to a production and deployment ban not a test ban. Well how would the Russians know whether we were giving them but the only way the Russians would know would be in my opinion to have access to the silo for the Russians to be able to physically inspect our nuclear launching silo that's right. What are the chance of the United judges of the United States agreeing to the vanishingly small. Why is that. We do not want the Russians to look at our warheads. There are number of technical reasons for this. The more you look at our equipment the more you see how it's rigged the better is your chance of devising interception techniques against it. Furthermore the idea the sheer the politics of this for the president to sponsor a treaty which allows a crew I don't know a 50 Savita inspectors to be roaming around North Dakota Montana Wyoming South Dakota and
Missouri looking into silo holes into our strategic weapons systems I think that politically this is it would be a very long shot if we could get the president to accept that. Dr. Love has two suggestions that he feels might help on what he considers the crucial point of on site inspections. The way in which I would do that is to have inspection of all seals placed upon all the Minuteman sidles to have automatic recording cameras with tamper proof seals on them so that every time one of our coverage was open for operational reasons or other repair reasons they picture would be taken of it. The Russians could see that no no warheads were introduced after all this is a much less drastic inspection proposal than for nuclear testing because you see if we merely substituted one more head or a few warheads in a task force of 1000 with Merv's it doesnt change the balance of power. So what the Russians have to inspect for is not just one thing. They could be reasonably confident that the inspection system would
be adequate if it had a slippage rate of a few percent. It wouldn't worry them so much I shouldn't worry them. You see and they could use sampling techniques to be sure that we were not actually changing the entire force to murder. To ease the political pain Dr Laub suggests an international inspection force. Well I think we could lessen the impact by getting the United Nations into it so we could have a international inspection team which would have Russian members so that they would be rotated through here and there would be some degree of international internationalization of the inspection force. But he says that even with such safeguards and inspection agreement would be difficult to achieve. May I point out that the Russians have still. Been extremely hostile to any intrusive inspection of the Soviet Union. And so while they might demand this of the United States and we would not be willing it would still remain open as to whether or not we could reach a politically
acceptable agreement which would be asymmetric namely inspection of Arsenals be made contingent upon inspection of Soviet satellites I think from the standpoint of the kind of horse trading that goes on on Capitol Hill that Capitol Hill would very much like even-Steven agreement here not one in which we inspect the air Merve tests and Sabia inspectors inspect the silos. They would not be looked upon as source trading in the Yankee tradition. Dr. law plainly is not optimistic about genuine progress soon but he does believe that increased reliance on submarines instead of Minutemen silos would help to get an agreement in the future. It would seem to me that the kind of systems we have to go for in strategic weapons are those which are inspection of all. In other words we should not go for systems which defeat the purposes of inspection. Now this is where crying
over spilt milk because we are dealing with this little crowd got on it's almost done and spectacle that's correct. But if we can think now futuristically into the late 70s when the Minuteman system will have degraded when nobody will really trust it. After all I'm sure the Air Force never wanted the Minuteman system. Station officers 100 feet underground this is not on flight status this is simply not the way for the US Air Force to operate. This is a very demoralizing aspect of their strategic weaponry but it seems to me that if we can go in the future to a systems which are totally based. On a mobile configuration namely in the water submarine submarine where we can go to systems which are at once less threatening which are also countable. I mean a number of submarines can be counted and it seems to me that we could even reach agreements where those submarines might be stationed. Well how do you count the subs. Well that can be we have espionage of all the construction facilities for submarines and it takes quite a long time for submarines to be
constructed. And you can keep track of the production of submarines quite accurately. What's the assurance that there isn't something with access only underwater and the facility being underground in a great big submarine cave and we're making submarines and I would think that while it is theoretically possible the problem of bringing supplies into such a base would require logistics that would make it to ascertainable from space. Even if the logistical underwear system of supplying materials underwater were well it's you know these things are theoretically possible that within me the probability of this is very small now but once they are deployed you have the possibility of picking them up and following them. One reason Dr. lap has hope that America will convert to a mostly submarine deterrent force is that he believes the Minuteman rockets are beginning to show their age. I must tell you that there is a very real difference between accuracy of a missile launched from Vandenberg under conditions of knowing you're going to have
to launch and the actual launch a sellable. Let's say many missiles from operational silos we have never launched operational missiles from our Minuteman silos. Are you saying that the axis is less good when you fire a sellable. Well I'm for a missile strike that is I would say two things. First I. Leave the number that will come out of the hole and fire full range is much less than the 80 percent figure that is credited for Vandenberg on launch. So you're not just talking about accuracy you're saying IMO you will not fire exactly on reliability. I would say that if we right at this moment the commander of the Minuteman launch force had to press the button and try to get one thousand minute men out of the silos and onto target I think that he would not be surprised to find that only half of them would perform according to spec.. How many would actually stay in the silo after their engines. I would not do it not I would not try to break down and I would just include the big figure there.
Not launch at all or off course I mean total number of inconsistency so I wouldn't attempt to break it down within the figure would there be some missiles that would explode within the silo. Oh I'm sure you would have problems like that but I do not believe that you would have any nuclear explosion within a silo because these warheads on the vessel itself are rigged in such a way. There is what they call an inertial switch and this which has to through all of it has to be a G force to which the missile is subjected on firing on launch which then throws a switch which arms the warhead so that there is virtually no danger of this thing going off in a silo as a nuclear explosion. Well how about something that gets off the ground and then somewhere over Idaho it fizzles out. Well if this is warmer this is the name of the game. You mean that there is a chance that an abortive missile that got out of its silo went a couple hundred miles good fall down on some poor farmer and blow him up in a nuclear explosion. Oh yes there'd be that chance but in for a war that would be the least of our worries.
Any such conversion to an all or almost all submarine nuclear force is a long way off. As for the next breakthrough beyond a potential free is on the number of rockets. I asked Dr Lapp this question. Would not the logical breakthrough from a simple freeze of the rockets in place be when and if Russia does catch up to the United States in murder of technology. When Russia has a workable missile that can deliver 10 or so nuclear warheads to approximately 10 separate targets it would seem to me that on the basis that the Soviets generally want to negotiate something they have something they do not have that you're quite correct. However the best time to have negotiated would have been before we were confident of having this technology and the demurrer of test ban would have inhibited both sides. Well that's past we at the top of this is to talk things that are no longer possible. So you see a real ray of hope only
hope and genuine disarmament negotiation or arms freeze negotiation. Only when we can read in the newspapers on three or four years from now that Russia indeed has a controlled workable good murder. Well I think it won't be three or four years I think it'll be less than that and we will read in the newspaper when it happens because it is a Sabia threat. My experience in Washington has been that intelligence about sabi effective weapon activities is generally broadcast rather quickly after receipt in Washington. International politics will in Doctor lapse view play a powerful part in the ultimate decision of both sides. To illustrate he discussed the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 he believes Russia's breathtaking gamble a gamble Russia lost was intended to leapfrog America's technical advantage because America had better long range rockets. Even up the score by taking short range Russian missiles and placing them
close to America we had ten times the superiority in missiles of the Soviet Union. And we say Well that was what deterred war what we forgot. In my opinion was that that thing which probably led to Cuba was our acceleration of our missile race. We were the ones when Senator Kennedy was talking in the in his campaign in 1960 about the missile gap. He was talking about. A thing which did not exist and and Premier Khrushchev knew it did not exist. But he probably said when and if this man gets to be president he will know it too. But when President Kennedy was in the command post what did he do. He increased Minuteman. He increased Polaris. He increased the defense budget. In my opinion that frighten Khrushchev Khrushchev know better than anybody else that it would be five years we're talking on 161 in the spring of 1961 Mr. Gross you have know it would be five years before he
could have a truly reliable missile strike force which could have some kind of confidence. And I think he gambled and Cuba was a political gamble you know ordered to invest missiles there for their political psychological value. And so in effect we could and this is speculation because who can prove it. I mean it's speculation but it to me is the most plausible reason why they did this unmilitary thing of good putting missiles in Cuba. Dr. Alaa believes that a genuine disarmament decision would seem to both sides to be a similar kind of gamble. A gamble that the other side would not cheat successfully and then use the ill gotten advantage of a gamble that politicians and soldiers here and in Russia would ordinarily avoid. But Dr. Lamb believes that the gamble might be made if there were sufficient fear brought into the strategic picture from outside it. Russia will probably and United States will probably begin to worry about the third
party. Up to now in the arms race the United States has almost concentrated exclusively on the Soviet Union. But the very soon we expect the Chinese to test their first intercontinental ballistic missile. Now the you do think when that happens that will be a real spur to the soul talks assuming the SALT talks are still going on at the time. Well it seems to me that the Russians are the ones who are going to be motivated to do something because they're much closer to the Chinese than we are now much more to fear from the Chinese because it's much provocation here much dissent over boundaries etc. and I would think that the U.S. might be willing to cool it off with us as a result of a Chinese ICBM test right. So I believe that this would be a hit so to speak out of the the accent of the Red Chinese missile there might be some hope for us here. Still another reason for hope. Dr. lap fields is the very fact that the talks are continuing. He believes that by talking seriously about the
problem something Russia has never done before. The Russians are becoming more relaxed about the subject and better able to deal with it. The fact is that the Russians are sitting down at the table with us. Now this there's something to it. They're not just sitting there for the fun of it. They are talking about this and by the way I think this is perhaps even if we don't get an agreement right away even if we in fact have some of the worst things happen the fact is that there is an educational process going on as a result of the SALT talks at Vienna and Helsinki in the United States we have free discussion scientists can talk with government officials can talk with generals and directly have a round robin discussion in the Soviet Union it is not that way. And so that in effect our talk about arms control in this country is much more sophisticated than it is in the Soviet Union. So I think what's happening is that you're getting a transfer of information and you're bringing the Russians up in this technology in the discussion of it. So and this is what you need you have to
have you have to be able to talk with your equal. And I believe that some discussions in the past have led us to believe the Russians had not much confidence in dealing with a technical problem like this. As Dr. Lapp sees it virtually all of the progress to be expected. Even after the possible breakthroughs for a murmur of agreement will still leave much to be desired. After all if the nuclear forces were frozen both sides would still retain frightening destructive power. Submarines would still proud the oceans carrying more danger in one Poseidon carrying a medicine glass boat than the combined power of all the weapons ever used in human history. Disarmament. The reduction of the strategic power of the super Giants and the reduction of its enormous expense would still not have been achieved and still Dr Lapp has hope. I think we're going to go through a very difficult period through the mid-1970s. My own crystal ball would which has numerous fracture planes in it I must
- A Federal Case II
- Episode Number
- Behind the SALT Talks
- Producing Organization
- National Educational Radio Network
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- "A Federal Case II" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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Producing Organization: National Educational Radio Network
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-18-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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