• U.S.

The Russians Are Coming

2 minute read

To many Americans, “verification” may be an abstract mouthful. But for 17,000 citizens of Magna, Utah, the word’s meaning will soon be as vivid as a new next-door neighbor. Under terms of the just completed INF treaty, 30 to 40 Soviet inspectors will be stationed for 13 years in this flat, dusty mining community 16 miles west of Salt Lake City. Magna is home to nine bars, some dozen churches and the Hercules Aerospace Co., which has made boosters for Pershing II missiles.

So far, the blue-collar town is unfazed by the prospect of a Russian invasion. “People will work with the Soviets as long as we get the same cooperation in return,” says Insurance Broker Chick Paris. That is the plan. The new agreement will allow an equal number of American inspectors to live in the Soviet city of Votkinsk, west of the Ural Mountains, where SS-20 missiles have been assembled.

Neither team will be allowed inside the other’s missile factories, but each can station round-the-clock monitors to inspect cargo at the exits and perimeter. In addition, each country will be allowed to make 20 surprise visits to suspected weapons facilities during the first three years of the treaty, 15 during the next five years and ten annually in the remaining five years. U.S. officials will be able to fly into Moscow or Irkutsk, and Soviets into Washington or San Francisco, without advance notice of the site to be inspected.

After taking inventory of each others’ weapons, both sides will monitor the destruction of warheads, launchers and support facilities. At hundreds of locations in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, camouflage will be lifted to uncover weapons sites for American spy satellites. Similar arrangements will apply to U.S. and West European facilities. Such innovative measures are designed to head off the mistrust that undermined the SALT II treaty. Secretary of State George Shultz said last week that the new system “gives us a very comfortable feeling that in the end the provisions of the treaty can be verified and will be carried out.”

Utah offered a foretaste of its hospitality two weeks ago, when a team of Russians inspected the Army depot in Tooele to observe procedures for destroying chemical weapons. The visitors were feted with banana splits and a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The big treat for Americans in Votkinsk will be a look at Tchaikovsky’s birthplace.

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