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Soviet General Sees Star Wars Defense As Cover For Nuclear Strike

July 13, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Soviet general, in an interview published Wednesday, said Star Wars anti- missile defenses in orbit could be used as a cover for nuclear weapons capable of hitting targets on earth on five minutes notice.

Maj. Gen. Boris Surikov, in an interview carried by the British magazine Jane’s Defence Weekly, also outlined steps the Soviets could take to outflank Star Wars, formally known as the Strategic Defense Inititiative.

Soviet civilian leaders and U.S. critics of Star Wars have made points similar to Surikov’s, although the interview provided unusual detail from a Soviet military source that Jane’s described as ″his government’s expert on new types and systems of space-based weapons.″

Surikov charged that Star Wars devices, which the Soviets call ″space strike weapons,″ could ″in the foreseeable future be used to destroy strategically important targets on earth and in space.″

″The current technology also gives the opportunity to start cover deployment of space-to-earth strike weapons even now,″ he said in the interview.

″Independently of the actual armaments of the U.S. (anti-ballistic missiles) stations, the Soviet Union would assume that they are armed with weapons able to destroy vital ground targets within five minutes of a decision to mount a nuclear attack from space,″ he said, hinting later in the article that the Soviet Union might destroy such stations soon after they were deployed.

U.S. officials have denied that Star Wars would use nuclear weapons or that other SDI devices, such as high energy lasers, would be used against targets on earth.

And Congress has barred the Reagan administration from spending any money that might violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which places strict limits on missile defenses.

Surikov acknowledged that ″the Soviet Union is engaged in research and development to improve the limited ABM system around the national capital″ which was ″fully in compliance with Article VII of the ABM Treaty,″ limiting each side to one ABM site equipped with not more than 100 interceptors.

He also confirmed that the Soviet Union is conducting research on new weapons systems ″based on other physical principles,″ such as lasers, at a test site allowed under the ABM pact.

The article appeared as the Reagan administration was trying to decide whether to declare the Soviet Union in ″material breach″ of the ABM Treaty because it built a radar facility at Krasnoyarsk, deep inside Siberia instead of near the border as required by the pact.

The Soviets argue that the Krasnoyarsk radar was designed to track vehicles in space, not enemy missiles, and note they suspended work on it a year ago, before it became operational.

Surikov did not directly respond to U.S. allegations about the Krasnoyarsk facility, but said that ″all Soviet radars have lower potentials″ than the ceiling set in the ABM treaty, ″and cannot detect or track ballistic missiles automatically or with the necessary accuracy.″

The Soviet general also outlined steps that Moscow could take to foil any strategic defense system built by the United States. The countermeasure s, all of which have been discussed publicly by Western experts, include:

-Early destruction or neutralization of orbiting stations by ″anti-ABM spacecraft armed with nuclear or conventional charges,″ ″space mines,″ or ″clouds of heavy or lightweight obstacles,″ like metal balls, sawdust or sand.

-″A build-up of offensive arms″ to present SDI with an overwhelming number of intercontinental ballistics missiles (ICBMs) to target.

-″Cheap ICBM decoys ... which would greatly overburden the first space layer of the ABM defense ...″ and other ″imitation devices ... to effectively camouflage the real nuclear warheads ...″

-″High acceleration missiles″ designed to release their warheads before the launch vehicle could be destroyed by the first layer of a space-based defense.

-″Massive deployment of variously-based cruise missiles ...″ or ″submarine launched ballistic missiles″ for which ″there are no interceptors at present.″

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