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May 1988

Committee for State Security (KGB), 'About Results of Intelligence Activities to Note Indicators for a Surprise Nuclear Missile Attack'

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)

Translation from Russian


Strictly confidential!



About results of intelligence activities to note indicators for a sudden nuclear missile attack (May 1988)




Intensive activities by US government agencies were related to preparations for the Soviet-American summit. A couple of extraordinary National Security Council meetings was dedicated to discussions about the situation in Panama.


At meetings of NATO's military leadership bodies, plans were discussed regarding “compensation” for those nuclear arms designated for reduction by the INF Treaty. The bloc leadership intends to continue nuclear arms build-up and refers to the need “to secure the military balance in Europe”. The expediency of maintaining a strategy of “nuclear deterrence” was also stressed at a meeting by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, NATO's parliamentary organ. The Military Committee recommended to the bloc's member states to agree on standardized legislation regarding introduction of a state of emergency and declaration of war.


A couple of Western European states continued to work on improving governance mechanisms in crisis situations. During a staff conference by the supreme commanders of NATO forces in Europe, “Shapex”, the functionality of NATO's crisis management system was tested. They simulated the process of political decision-making during transition from peace to war mode.


The Pentagon has begun comprehensive development of a rail transport and launching complex for ballistic MX intercontinental missiles. The first prototype of this mobile system is supposed to be completed and tested until mid-1992. The British government has decided to modernize the nuclear arsenal of its Air Force. This included replacement of nuclear bombs with air-based cruise missiles. An analogous exchange is possibly also planned in France. For instance, testing of the first fighter aircraft “Super Etendard” has begun that got converted to a carrier of air-based cruise missiles.


Operative and combat training for units of US and French nuclear forces was of regular character. On May 6 a test of reserve command systems of strategic offensive forces, “Giant Walk”, took place with actual operations by 7 mobile air-based command centers. On May 10, the staff of French Air Force's strategic air force command participated in command staff exercise “Jerichon”, where operations were trained pertaining to a sudden outbreak of war.


The most extensive measures within NATO forces' operative and combat training were noted in the Southern European Theater of War. From late April to May 20, an exercise series of the bloc was held in the Mediterranean on standardized background based on coordinated scenarios. All NATO staff and leadership bodies from the Southern European Theater of War were relocated to command centers for a defense situation. During those exercises, intensity increased for flights by US transportation and intelligence aircraft, as well as by aircraft of NATO's early warning system “AWACS”.


In the US and other NATO states regular preparations continued to stock up fuels and resources for the economy in emergency conditions. Major attention is devoted in Western states to replacement of oil imports by natural gas. According to assessments by the US Department of Energy, a wide use of this energy source could reduce national demand for imported oil by about 1 million barrel daily; this is by 21 percent.


In NATO headquarters a couple of agreements with the bloc states were drafted regarding standardized procedures of including civilian aircraft into the transport of American reinforcement troops to Europe in crisis situations. In Spain a new operation plan for emergencies was worked out. It includes utilization of civilian aircraft based on airports within a 20 kilometers perimeter around Madrid for combat purposes.


The Western countries continue coordination of their plans and measures to protect the population in an emergency situation. The NATO Main Committee for emergency plans in the civilian sector discussed evacuation plans for parts of the FRG population to Spain, if an armed conflict breaks out. FEMA and the American Red Cross began to draft and publish new popular brochures on issues of protection against weapons of mass destruction. FEMA also provided 4.7 million dollars to organize mass drills of behavior training “in case of disasters involving explosives and chemicals”.


Activities by intelligence services from the US and other NATO states continued to focus on collection of intelligence information about Warsaw Treaty military objects which are subject to inspections according to the Soviet-American INF Treaty.


Increased attention was paid to training measures in the context of emergency situations. On all international US airports drills for the security services took place. In Turkey special training measures were conducted for security guards and units “to liberate military objects taken over by terrorists”.


Therefore, in May activities by US and NATO in most important monitored areas were essentially of ordinary character. Especially worrisome aspects, comparable to indicators for the preparation to use military force, were not noted.    


Translated: Petzold, Captain
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This report from the KGB contains results from intelligence activities conducted in May 1988 aimed at exposing indicators of a surprise nuclear missile attack on the USSR.

Document Information


BStU, MfS, ZAIG, Nr. 6755, S. 72-75. Translated by Bernd Schaefer.


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