206. Intelligence Memorandum1

SR IM 68–16



Within the past year the Soviets appear to have made further reductions in the construction of ballistic missile defenses at Moscow.

The early evidence suggested that the Moscow ABM system would have a force level of 128 launchers at 16 launch sites—four sites in each quadrant. In early 1964, construction in the southeast quadrant was abandoned, and the number of launch sites dropped to 12. Work has now apparently ceased on two more sites in the northeastern and two in the southwestern environs of Moscow. If construction is not resumed at these sites, the final force level for the completed system will be eight sites and a total complement of 64 launchers.

Partial system operational capability is probably near. All elements of the system are expected to be operational by mid-1970.

The cutbacks will not materially change the strategic role of the system, since even at originally indicated levels it could not have coped with a determined US attack. The Soviets may now feel a greater need for improved capabilities—for example, against penetration aids and multiple warheads—before filling in the Moscow system or extending ABM coverage into other parts of the Soviet Union. The cutbacks thus could represent a pause while improvements are being sought.

If so, the Soviets may now view arms limitations discussions with the US as a way of probing—at no penalty to themselves—the firmness of the United States’ intent to carry out improvements presently programmed for its strategic forces. Although the Soviets have not formally [Page 697] responded to US initiatives for arms limiting talks, they have carefully kept alive the possibility that they will eventually do so.

Meanwhile, work on elements of the Moscow ABM system is progressing:

The forward early warning and tracking radars at Olenegorsk and Skrunda are now believed to be operational.

At Moscow, three of the present eight launch sites and the northwestern faces of the Dog House target acquisition and tracking radar are probably undergoing checkout for operational readiness later this year.

Recent ground clearing and associated activities at Skrunda and Moscow raise the possibility that deployment of new ABM-related radars is under way.

Completion of the launch sites still under construction will probably mark the end of deployment of the system in its current form. However, activity at the Sary Shagan missile test center indicates a continuing effort to improve ballistic missile defense systems. A better system, based on present technology and work currently under way at Sary Shagan, could be ready for deployment within a year or two but probably would not be widely deployed and operational much before 1973 or 1974.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Miscellaneous CIA Intelligence Memoranda, [2 of 4], Box 13. Top Secret; Ruff; [codewords not declassified]; Handle via Talent-Keyhole-COMINT Systems Jointly; No Foreign Dissem. According to a note on the first page, this memorandum was produced solely by the CIA, prepared jointly by the Office of Scientific Intelligence and the Office of Strategic Research, and coordinated with the Offices of Current Intelligence and National Estimates. An attached June 13 note from R.J. Smith, Deputy Director of Intelligence, to Rostow, calls this memorandum to his attention because it “is of such significance.” A handwritten note, which has been crossed out, reads, “For the President from Walt Rostow: Herewith summary of CIA Study on Recent Developments in the Moscow ABM System.” Another handwritten note reads, “sent Ranch via wire 6/15/68 CAP 81313.”