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Algora Publishing - 1998 CIA Report
                                               For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Tuesday,
1998 CIA Report
During a command post exercise held in March and April of last year, Russian military commanders called in nuclear strikes on a simulated attack by NATO ground forces and Lithuanian and Polish troops along the Poland-Belarus border.

Russia, when it was part of the Soviet Union, produced more than 300 Tu-95s and Tu-160s. But according to the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, only about 66 long-range bombers are operational today. They include 60 AS- 15-equipped Bear bombers and six Blackjacks equipped with AS-15s. The Blackjack can carry up to 12 cruise missiles and the Bears each can be fined with six AS- I 5s.

The U.S. strategic bomber force is expected to number around 187 by 2000 and will include B-2s, B-1Bs and B-52s, which are also outfitted with long-range cruise missiles.

The strategic exercise was not reported in the Russian press. An earlier exercise involving shorter-range Tu-22 strategic bombers fired cruise missiles in Kazakhstan on April 17.

Russia reportedly is developing a new radar-evading stealth bomber to replace its Tu-95s.

A recent CIA report on Moscow's control over its nuclear forces stated that Russian military officials "still portray Western policies as hostile and ... Moscow's exercises have simulated short-warning nuclear attacks against Russian strategic forces and their supporting command structure."

"As recently as August 1996, the scenario of a (Strategic Rocket Forces) nuclear forces exercise still depicted the United States as the enemy," the CIA report said.

The CIA report said Russia's air-delivered nuclear weapons contain special electronic blocking devices. In the early 1970s, naval strike aircraft were accidentally loaded with nuclear bombs that did not have the electronic safety locks, it said.

Air Force Gen. Eugene Habiger, commander of U.S. strategic forces, said in Moscow on Sunday that he believes Russian nuclear forces remain under safe central government control.

"My observations are that the Russians are indeed very serious about security," said the general, who toured Russian strategic facilities last week.

The four-star general visited strategic bases throughout Russia where nuclear-armed missiles, bombers and naval forces are deployed. He also visited storage sites and silos.

Gen. Habiger told the Associated Press he believes the chance of an unauthorized nuclear launch by Russian strategic, forces is remote. Gen. Habiger is retiring this summer and will be replaced by Vice Adm. Richard Mies, who traveled with him during the tour in Russia.