U.S. State and Defense Department officials said April 16 that a massive complex being constructed by Moscow in the southern Urals has been under observation for more than 10 years and that successive U.S. administrations have been unsuccessful in getting an answer out of Moscow as to its purpose. While Washington believes that the complex is defense-related, officials say that it does not violate arms treaties and its construction is thus not grounds for cutting off U.S. aid directed at the dismantling of Russian nuclear weapons. (Reuter & UPI, April 16)
Questions about the complex have arisen following an April 16 New York Times article that said the site recalled the "chilliest days of the Cold War." The massive complex is reportedly serviced by a railroad, a highway, and thousands of workers. U.S. specialists, the newspaper said, speculate the complex could be anything from an underground nuclear command post to a secret production plant. Uncertainty over the project has turned it into a delicate political subject for the Clinton administration, the Times says, because the White House has to certify that the Russians "are not undertaking new military projects that go beyond their needs" in order to win congressional approval for aid. Yesterday a top officer in Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces denied any connection to the complex, saying that the rocket forces are "not building nor extending nor modernizing any site in the Urals." (Reuter, April 17)
Russian Parliament Adopts Law on Human Rights Commissioner.