Nuclear Inspection Site To Close
MAGNA, Utah (AP) _ The nation’s only permanent nuclear missile inspection site will close and its 30 inspectors will head back to Russia at the end of the month.
An agreement that allowed the inspection expires May 31. It was part of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in December 1987 by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
While U.S. inspectors monitor weapons construction in Votkinsk, Russia, rotating teams of Russian technicians have maintained the inspection outpost in the Salt Lake City suburb of Magna for the past 13 years.
The Russian inspectors will fly out of Salt Lake City on May 30, Amy Fielding, acting public relations officer for the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, told The Salt Lake Tribune for a story in Wednesday’s editions.
The treaty was the superpowers’ first successful effort to monitor each other’s promise to stop producing medium-range missiles and to destroy their existing arsenals of such weapons.
The Russian inspectors’ main purpose was to make sure no more Pershing 2 missile motors were produced.
U.S. inspectors were stationed in Votkinsk, 600 miles east of Moscow, to ensure the Soviets were no longer making SS-20 missiles.
While the Utah site will be closed, the Russian permanent inspection site in Votkinsk will remain open, under terms of a different accord, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). That treaty, signed in July 1991 by Gorbachev and then-President George Bush, was aimed at reduction of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals to 6,000 strategic warheads each by 2002.
Fielding said the Russians had the option to stay in Utah under terms of START, but declined.