43. Editorial Note

During their conversation on May 5, 1969 (see Document 42), Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson and Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin also discussed “Suspected Advanced Weapons Related Facilities in China (SAWRF).” A memorandum of conversation of their meeting, with this subject title, was sent only to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs U. Alexis Johnson and Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms. During this conversation with Dobrynin, Thompson informed him of the U.S. discovery of approximately 15 SAWRF along the Mongolian border in the neighborhood of the Chinese missile and atomic test range and asked whether the Soviet Ambassador was aware of their construction. Thompson described Dobrynin’s response as follows:

Dobrynin gave me the impression he had already heard of these installations as he did not seem at all surprised at my raising the subject. He asked how large they were. When I said I simply did not recall [Page 150] what our estimate of size was he pressed me further and asked if they were around a mile long. I said my guess was that a quarter or eighth of a mile was more like it. He asked about width of the internal structure and I said I could only recall that they were narrow—perhaps about six feet. In reply to his question I said the orientation of the facilities appeared to be random. Dobrynin said he would get in touch with his Government about the matter.” (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files, Job 80–M01044A, Box 1, Folder 12)

On May 20, Dobrynin gave Thompson a reply from Moscow about the SAWRF in China, which Thompson passed verbatim to Helms in a memorandum:

“Adjacent to the border of Mongolia there are in the construction stage several launching pads of semi-subterranean type. There are 28 launching pads there altogether. In the area of Peking and to the south of it there are several launching pad complexes of the same type under construction with direction of fire to the South East.” (Ibid.)