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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

SUBCOMMITTEE: Military Research and Development


[H.N.S.C. No. 105-36]








MARCH 19, 1998


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CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania, Chairman
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
BOB RILEY, Alabama

MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
JANE HARMAN, California
PAUL McHALE, Pennsylvania

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Stephen Ansley, Professional Staff Member
Brian Green, Professional Staff Member
Robert Lautrup, Professional Staff Member
Peter Pry, Professional Staff Member
Jean Reed, Professional Staff Member
Tracy W. Finck, Staff Assistant




    Thursday, March 19, 1998, Russian National Security Issues

    Thursday, March 19, 1998



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    Pickett, Hon. Owen, a Representative from Virginia, Ranking Member, Military Research and Development Subcommittee

    Weldon, Hon. Curt, a Representative from Pennsylvania, Chairman, Military Research and Development Subcommittee


    Lebed, Gen. Aleksandr, Former Secretary, Russian Security Council


Lebed, Gen. Aleksandr

Weldon, Hon. Curt


House of Representatives,

Committee on National Security,

Military Research and Development Subcommittee,

Washington, DC, Thursday, March 19, 1998.

    The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2 p.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Curt Weldon, (chairman of the subcommittee), presiding.


    Mr. WELDON. This afternoon the Military Research and Development Subcommittee of the National Security Committee is truly privileged to meet with an honored guest, a man of international reputation and perhaps the next President of Russia, Aleksandr Lebed.

    General Lebed has agreed to share with us today his views and to answer questions on a broad range of issues affecting United States-Russian relations and international security, including, for example, the safety of the Russian nuclear arsenal, the condition and stability of the Russian Armed Forces, and the implications of NATO enlargement.

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    I have had the opportunity for indepth discussions with General Lebed on three different occasions, most recently last evening.

    Aleksandr Lebed, who at the age of 47 is relatively youthful, which is defined as anyone younger than me, has already made his mark on history. In 1992, while commander of the Russian 14th Army, General Lebed, acting largely on his own and without serious material support or help from Moscow, single-handedly quelled a civil war in the Trans-Dneister and brought peace to Moldova. Such an accomplishment would be enough to crown the career of a lifetime.

    However, just 3 years later, in 1995, Aleksandr Lebed's achievements in Moldova and his outspoken criticism of government incompetence and corruption made him one of the most popular figures in Russia.

    General Lebed resigned from the military in 1995 to run for President, where he played perhaps a pivotal role in history. Many scholars credit Aleksandr Lebed's political support of Boris Yeltsin's bid for reelection in a close race against the Communist candidate, Gennadiy Zyuganov, with preserving Yeltsin's Presidency and, indeed, with saving Russian democracy.

    But history was still not done with Aleksandr Lebed. While serving President Yeltsin as Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Aleksandr Lebed, again acting largely on his own, negotiated an end to the bloody war in Chechnya.

    Thus, a war that the Russian Government had been unable to end after several years, Lebed successfully terminated after a few months.

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    At the time, many astonished critics claimed that Lebed's achievement in Chechnya could not be real or lasting and that that region would soon relapse into war. But it is now 3 years later, and Chechnya is still at peace.

    Critics of Aleksandr Lebed often charge that he is no friend of democracy. To this he has made a telling reply,

    Westerners support Yeltsin who helped start the war in Moldova. I stopped it. He started the war in Chechnya. I stopped it. Who is the greater democrat then, he or I? Is democracy war or peace? I think it is the latter.

    Three months after Aleksandr Lebed ended the war in Chechnya, on October 17, 1996, President Yeltsin dismissed him from the Government. Nonetheless, opinion polls show that Lebed remains one of the most popular figures in Russia and the man who someday soon may be called upon to lead that still great nation.

    Today, Aleksandr Lebed is a candidate for Governor of Krasnoyarsk. The election will take place on April 26. If elected, General Lebed would also serve in the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament. As the general said last evening at dinner, Krasnoyarsk is important because Russia is the center of Eurasia and Krasnoyarsk is the center of Russia.

    I would wish him good luck, but that might be misconstrued as interference in a strictly internal Russian matter.

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    I wish to impress upon my colleagues the unique opportunity we have today. Appearing before us may be the next President of Russia.

    When listening to what is said and formulating questions, we should keep in mind that Aleksandr Lebed's personal views may have a decisive bearing on the future of United States-Russian relations far beyond the rather narrow issue of whether any Russian nuclear weapons are missing, as important as that issue is.

    Because the future of Russian democracy is not yet set, and the future of United States-Russian relations is still shrouded in uncertainty, meetings like this providing an opportunity for dialog between Americans and Russians are vitally important.

    Trust can be built between the sides only if we talk and work together and only if we make a real effort to understand each other's problems and perspectives on the world. I am afraid that our two nations are not making enough effort to understand each other, to reassure each other.

    On a parliamentary level, I have been working to ensure closer cooperation between the Congress and Duma by initiating an ongoing dialog between our two legislatures. By working to build relationships and developing trust, we will be able to address difficult issues that exist and will continue to rise.

    Today that issue is proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to Iran and Iraq. And my relationships with Duma leaders have afforded me the opportunity to raise this sensitive, yet vital, issue in a nonthreatening and cooperative fashion.

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    As for our executive branch, I am not completely satisfied that the administration appreciates the potential dangers inherent in NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] enlargement-as worthy as NATO expansion may be-or has done enough to convince Moscow that NATO expansion is no threat to them.

    By the same token, I am concerned by the Russian Government's lack of openness about certain programs that appear to have no other purpose but preparation for nuclear war, such as the mysterious underground facility being constructed at Yamantau Mountain in the Urals.

    I am equally concerned by Moscow's lack of candor about the safety and security of the Russian nuclear arsenal. False reassurances that everything is OK only heighten my alarm, especially when there is so much evidence to the contrary.

    Allow me to briefly recap the issue of possibly missing nuclear-suitcase bombs. In May 1997, when Ranking Member Pickett and I were leading a congressional delegation to Russia, we met with General Lebed and were told that when he was Secretary of the Security Council an audit of Russia's nuclear stockpile indicated an apparent inability to account for all of the suitcase-sized nuclear weapons.

    Let me stress, because this has been misconstrued in the American and the Russian media, this was a private meeting between General Lebed and eight Members of Congress. There was no effort at that time, or later, to generate any press in this story by the General or by Members of Congress. And those who have said General Lebed attempted to use this as an opportunity to generate media are patently wrong.

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    The story did not surface in America until 2 months after our visit when ''60 Minutes'' found out about the conversation and, in fact, did an interview and reported both General Lebed's comments and my comments. But in no way was this meeting an attempt by General Lebed or Members of Congress to somehow use this fact to generate a story.

    In fact, that issue itself was a very small part, perhaps 10 minutes, of a much broader discussion about our relationship from a security standpoint between the United States and Russia. This is very important to clarify, because the General has been misstated in both the American media and the Russian media, and I want to set the record straight.

    The suitcase nuclear weapons, which both the United States and Russia produced at one time, were designed for sabotage operations and could be ideal for terrorist attacks.

    On October 2, 1997, in a hearing before this same subcommittee, Dr. Alexei Yablokov, an internationally respected scientist and former member of the Russian Security Council, supported General Lebed's allegations that Russia had, in fact, manufactured small nuclear weapons, as we had, and that these might, in fact be missing.

    Indeed, after Dr. Yablokov returned to Moscow, he was summoned to the Kremlin to meet with senior Defense Ministry officials who sought Yablokov's help in drafting a decree to be issued by President Yeltsin.

    The decree, as Dr. Yablokov explained it, would admit the existence of these weapons, outline a plan to ensure the security of all man-portable nuclear weapons, and order their destruction once they had been accounted for.

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    Although the Russian Government initially officially denied the existence of suitcase-type nuclear weapons, subsequent statements and new stories from Moscow confirmed the existence of these weapons and concern about their security, the exact testimony of General Lebed in May of last year.

    In fact, during my December 1997 trip to Moscow, in a 1-hour meeting with Defense Minister Sergeyev, he admitted to me that, in fact, Russia does have such man-portable nuclear weapons. And he assured me that they were taking steps to destroy them by the year 2000.

    General Lebed, we welcome you, and we thank you for being here. However, before I turn the floor over to you, I want to call upon Mr. Pickett, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, respectfully. I should point out that Mr. Pickett was a member of our delegation and cochaired the meeting with General Lebed, as well as other meetings, during our May trip last year.

    Mr. Pickett.


    Mr. PICKETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I join you in welcoming our special guest today and he is going to be a witness for our committee.

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    I know that during our meeting last May we found a most interesting and informative session with General Lebed. We talked at that time about the consequences of handling weapons of mass destruction, and that will be another issue that I am sure some of our members will want to pursue today.

    And you have already mentioned the issue about nuclear warheads and the proliferation of nuclear materials and nuclear technical expertise.

    But I will also have some questions looking to not only the military security of your country but also your economic security, the success that you are having in moving your nation toward a market-based economy, what is happening to make your country develop a more capable judicial system to make sure that a market economy is going to be able to function in your country, and also that you will be moving toward a law enforcement system that is going to be fair and effective to make sure that the underpinnings of order that are necessary for a market economy to function are going to be present.

    So, we welcome you here today. We look forward to your testimony, and I thank you for this opportunity to have a chance to offer you some questions.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Pickett.

    I would remind our colleagues today that we are doing simultaneous translation for General Lebed. So, please, when you speak, and this is especially important to myself, we must slow down our statements so that the translator can effectively do his job.

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    I would like to now turn to the distinguished chairman of our full committee, the Honorable Floyd Spence.

    Mr. SPENCE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do not have any comments except just to welcome our distinguished guest at our meeting today.

    Thank you.

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for being here.

    This truly is a historic day for this subcommittee and this committee. In the 12 years that I have been in Congress, I have only seen one general from Russia or the former Soviet Union appear before this committee, and that was when Chairman Aspin had General Akromayov here. Today is the first time we have had a Russian general appear before our committee, and it is truly a historic day for us.

    Let me thank the American Foreign Policy Council, and in particular Herman Perchner, who is here with us today, for his cooperation in this effort.

    Where are you, Herman. I want to acknowledge you. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

    And with that, to our distinguished general.

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    I would remind our colleagues that you can listen to the General's testimony on channel 3. Turn on your device and turn it to channel 3. His statement you have, I believe, before you. It has been translated into English, so the press has a copy of it.

    And I would say now to the General (in Russian).

    (In English.) The floor is yours.


    General LEBED. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Before I proceed with my address, esteemed members of the committee, I would like to give my reaction on your words on how young I am. Youth is a drawback that passes in time, so I am in no hurry at all.

    In this address, I would like to set forth my understanding of providing security for Russia and the United States of America in the 21st century. It is not by chance that I have put our nations side by side. Now, I care about Russia's security. You care about the security of the United States. Different as we are, reliable security of one nation, I am deeply convinced, is unattainable without security of the other. Now, this is the idea I would like to expound upon.

    The cold war outcome, defeat or victory for Russia? For 45 years after the end of World War II, the confrontation of our two countries had driven the political climate of the globe. Today the situation has changed.

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    The United States of America is a consolidated prosperous nation, an acknowledged world leader; whereas, Russia today is but a fraction of what used to be the mighty Soviet Union caught in the throes of dire economic, social, and political crisis. Yet the old thinking is still strong and the mental inertia is still strong. And many in the West still view Russia as an adversary.

    On the other hand, some people say that Russia lost the cold war and therefore should be treated as a defeated nation. Now, this is a mistake. And according to Mikel Veli, a mistake is worse than a crime.

    Now, the cold war was lost by the totalitarian Soviet system, while Russia only benefited from the collapse of the rotten regime and from the emerging opportunity to join civilized democratic nations. This is a victory for the forces of democracy, our common victory.

    Therefore, I think Russia should not be treated as a defeated nation but rather like a captive released. She should not be finished off or isolated, but you better help Mother Russia to stand on her feet and find her place in the new life.

    Now, what are the threats to Russia's security? Well, Russia is not perceiving serious military threats to herself and does not intend to threaten anyone. We have neither muscle nor will to do so. Having lost in the 20th century 70 to 75 million human lives, we have exhausted our quotas of revolutions of peoples and other stupid things.

    Overall there are fewer and fewer problems left in the world that could be resolved with brute force. I would like to hope that the era of the great wars is over.

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    Vietnam for the United States of America, Afghanistan and Chechnya for Russia, shows that even smaller wars against smaller nations do not guarantee victory to the seemingly stronger side. All-out wars have not been won by anyone. Now we have been vaccinated against imperial ambitions.

    The principal threats to Russia's security come from within. They include political instability, economic crisis, corruption, and crime, separatist leanings in the provinces. In such conditions, the West can hardly count on Russia as a reliable partner.

    On the contrary, there is a strong temptation to further weaken Russia and trigger the disintegration of the Federation, fencing off the remnants with a quarantine zone.

    Such ideas have some currency in the United States among other places. However, a weaker Russia is unlikely to strengthen America. Such policy, if pursued, would only reignite mistrust and tension between our nations, playing in the hands of those opposing democratic evolution of Russia.

    Success of such policy is fraught with dozens of new military conflicts throughout the former Soviet Union. Problems of Yugoslavia and Iraq would then pale by comparison. Needless to say, everyone would be a loser.

    I do not think that the United States of America would like to deal with a Russia shaken by domestic conflicts, embittered and cornered Russia.

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    Therefore, though I run for Governor of Russia's largest province, the Krasnoyarsk Krai, and though I criticize the inadequate regional policy of the Federal Center, nevertheless I still firmly support Russia's unity. And I will do my best to prevent its collapse and disintegration into European, Siberian, or Far Eastern Republics.

    I would like to repeat once again, Russia is the center of Eurasia, and Krasnoyarsk Krai is the center of Russia. And it is there that a new power center should be created from where genuinely democratic reconstruction of Russia would start.

    Now, what is Russia reconstructed? My friends and I have explained in this book, and it is called ''Russia Reconstructed.'' Unfortunately, I have not had time to have it adequately translated.

    But I can guarantee you that within a month the book will be professionally translated and made available in the United States, made available to the Congress in general, and your committee, Mr. Chairman, in particular.

    Now, serious threats to Russia's security, as we see it, include aggravation of global problems that concern the entire world community. They include the problems of proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, escalation of regional conflicts, international terrorism, political and religious extremism, climate changes, deterioration of the environment.

    To control such threats, Russia is ready for broad international cooperation. And I think Russia will be able to make a substantial contribution to the ultimate success of such efforts.

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    Whom Russia regards as her allies and opponents, it depends on the political vector of Russia. I count myself and my supporters among those forces that stand for a strong democratic Russia relying on market economy and respecting the rules of international law. I hope that soon such forces might claim a decisive victory in Russia.

    The natural allies of such a new Russia would include the nations with full-fledged democracy and, above all, the countries of European culture, among whom Russia belongs. For the West, the most farsighted policy would be consistent assistance to Russia in the implementation of this development scenario.

    Now, as regards opponents, we are not recruiting any a priori. The Russians have a wise saying, which translates into English as: Do not measure others with your own yardstick. The literal translation of that is: Do not impose your set of rules on others. It is not for us to determine whether the political regime in this or that country is good or bad, it is the internal affair of that nation and its people.

    We are prepared for mutually beneficial cooperation with America and Europe, Asia and the Islamic world. The only possible obstacle in the way of such cooperation may arise if any country violates the accepted rules of international law, existing treaties, and human rights. This is a universal principle of all democratic nations, and Russia will be no exception there.

    Stronger global security is the foundation of national security. Speaking about the security, I would like to say that despite all its current problems, Russia is not just able to mind its own business and receive foreign aid, it can provide actual assistance in solving various international problems.

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    Now, as a serviceman who has been through a whole number of armed conflicts, I take the problem of preventing and ending wars very close to heart. Our shrinking global village known as Earth is too fragile and vulnerable to afford even relatively petty skirmishes.

    No nation can unilaterally assume the role of an arbitrator in those conflicts. Yet, such a judge is badly needed. Likewise, we need forces to lawfully enforce international order. The U.N. peacekeeping forces, as they are today, are not effective enough. Maybe we, the United States of America and Russia and Western Europe, should think of setting up some new qualitatively multinational combined units of well-trained and armed international police, including representatives of various countries and acting within the limits of law under effective international control.

    The creation of such mobile armed forces could become an example of mutual trust of the partner nations and become a bright symbol of a new era in understanding and maintenance of national and international security.

    In conclusion, I would like to note that I am neither a political romantic nor an idealist. I fully understand that, in the foreseeable future, the foreign policy of every nation, much like before, would be based on its national interests.

    The difference from the past, though, boils down to the fact that, for a growing number of countries, maintenance of international stability and order is claiming higher priority among its national interests. Sooner or later, all nations will come to recognize that fact. Russia is recognizing it already.

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    I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, thank you esteemed members of the committee.

    [The prepared statement of General Lebed can be found in the appendix on page 32]

    Mr. WELDON. [Sentence in Russian.]

    We will now proceed to questions. And, General Lebed, I will ask two questions, and then we will move through the entire committee to give each member a chance to ask their own questions with the goal of finishing the hearing by 4 p.m.

    General, in our three previous meetings, we have spent considerable time discussing the decay of the Russian military and the consequences of that decay for Russia and ultimately the entire world. My sense is that this is one of your gravest concerns. I know it is an issue that I have spent considerable time and energy on as well.

    We have discussed a number of topics related to this issue, including the poor morale and the wage arrearages for soldiers and sailors, the lack of compassion for what many of you is a defeated army, the penetration of the military by organized crime, the impact of drastically reduced funding on the readiness of key military systems, including strategic systems, the physical deterioration of military installations, especially as it relates to security of weapons of all sorts.

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    All of these concerns, and I know many on the committee share these concerns, are inextricably related to what I feel is the major issue confronting Russian and American policymakers, and that is the security of Russian nuclear material, nuclear weapons, and their means of delivery.

    I know much has been written and said about the issue of man-portable tactical nukes, the so-called nuclear suitcases. I do not wish to dwell simply on that narrow subject. But rather, I want to discuss with you the broader issue of the security of nuclear material and weapons.

    So my question is: America is greatly concerned about this issue and has backed up our concerns with American resources to help improve the security of nuclear material and nuclear weapons. How concerned are you about the security of Russian nuclear material and weapons? What can you tell us about the current security?

    What poses the greatest threat to the security of weapons? Is it organized crime? Is it desperation and poverty that drives the soldiers, sailors, or scientists to steal material?

    Is it lax physical security at the bases or labs? Is it poor management and accounting systems that could allow a theft to go undetected for some time? And is the administration today in Moscow, the Yeltsin administration, doing enough to deal with this situation?

    General LEBED. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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    Currently, a scandal is coming aflare in this state turmoil of Russia with the support of the control chamber.

    The essence of it is as follows: The General Prosecutor's Office has been funded by 146 percent, yet the conversion of the military industrial complex has been funded from the budget only by 2.5 percent against the planned volumes. Supplies of material and equipment to the Armed Forces have been funded only by 11 percent against the planned figures.

    Now, since this is the budget, it is the Government who is responsible for it, and personally Mr. Chernomyrdin. And it is the General Procurator's Office who is supposed to monitor compliance with the budget. So the deputies are asking a legitimate question: Esteemed prosecutors, did you get a bribe to turn a blind eye on what has not been funded and financed?

    So, behind those figures is the entire essence of the current politics of the Russian politically toward the Russian Armed Forces. Now, everything has been done so that excellently prepared trained professionals, when leaving the Armed Forces, will join the criminal ranks for them to trade arms and ammunition so that nukes would be lost or biological or chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

    Delays in salary can be up to 6 months. Commissioned officers are trying to earn a living anywhere outside the military service. They serve as guards, they work as porters. In other words, they did their worst for the army, for the officers corps, to consistently feel humiliated, degraded.

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    I would like to remind you that one of the reasons for the 1917 revolution became the degradation of a huge Russian army.

    But now, today, we raise a second question. As a consequence on what I said about the portable nuclear devices, so the consequence was that I was summoned to the General Procurator's Office. And I was charged with the gentle charge of leaking a State secret.

    So, I asked them a question: Does Russia have portable nuclear devices? The firm answer was ''no.'' In that case, I asked, why am I here? What secret have I leaked? And everybody there felt very awkward.

    But, frankly speaking, I am not so much concerned with those nuclear devices themselves. For purely technical reasons, they are losing their capacity very fast.

    Since 1996, I have been trying to resolve another issue. In closed cities where unique technologies were, know-hows were created, including nuclear know-hows, now have a very miserable existence. They are not financed everywhere. And unique experts are seeking their fortune around the globe.

    And there are no guarantees against the possibility that say a rich dictator would buy somewhere, say in Africa, 3 square miles of land. And disguised as a farm, there will be a laboratory built who will gather together those often unique experts, would pay them handsomely, and gratefully they would do what they can do. And the world will face the problem of nuclear terrorism and nuclear blackmail.

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    Then there would be a show, a nuclear explosion of one device, that would level to the ground a large village somewhere. And then they can call Moscow, New York, Tokyo, and demand any money.

    There is a common principle, a general principle, that nuclear charges can be dismantled by those who assembled them. Well, these should be precisely the people who service those charges. They should organize storage of the nuclear waste from those devices.

    These people must be gathered. Jobs must be given to these people. These people should be paid for loyalty. Only then can we sleep calmly.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, General. I have one additional question, and then I will turn to my colleague.

    General, as you know, and I discussed this with you last evening, there has been increasing public attention in the United States and around the world regarding a January 1995 incident in which a Norwegian scientific research rocket, launched from an island in the Bering Sea, was detected by the Russian early warning system and mistakenly determined to be a United States submarine-launched missile.

    This set in motion the entire Russian nuclear command structure which went on nuclear alert. A nuclear alert in this instance meant the notification of President Yeltsin and the activation of the Chegatz, the briefcase-sized devices used for authorizing the launch of Russia's significant nuclear arsenal.

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    I should note that up to this point these devices had never been activated for an emergency. In the language of arms controllers, President Yeltsin was one decision point away, or in more plain English, less than several minutes away from launching an all-out nuclear attack on the United States.

    According to many experts, this was the closest the United States and Russia have ever come to nuclear Armageddon, far closer than during past incidences of increased international tension, like the Cuban missile crisis. The idea that we came so perilously close to nuclear war as a result of a miscalculation, rather than any sort of provocative action, should be cause for considerable concern, both in Russia and the United States.

    In your view, how likely is it that we could see a repeat of this sort of miscalculation or even possibly, heaven forbid, an accidental launch? Simply put, how concerned should we be about this sort of thing? And, second, what can you tell us about the changes, if any, that were made by the Ministry of Defense and President Yeltsin in response to this incident?

    I know from our previous meetings you are concerned about the decline of the Russian military, both in terms of welfare and morale of the troops and the readiness of key systems like early warning radars. Do you think either of these problems could contribute to another incident of this type?

    Thank you.

    General LEBED. Thank God, Mr. Chairman, you are not quite right. Each system that can respect itself should have one feature, and that is to be fool resistant so a missile can be launched only by a coordinated effort of the supreme commander, this is the President, the Minister of Defense, and head of the general staff.

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    But bearing in mind some statements made by the supreme commander in the past few months-for example, to reduce the Armed Forces by 3 million men, whereas now we have only 1.7 million serving in the forces, and listing Germany and Japan among the great nuclear nations, and a number of others, will indicate certain inadequacy of the supreme commander.

    Of course, it is quite dangerous when one component of the system, that is, the nuclear button, is with a person like that. And being the commander-in-chief, he can easily make the other two elements agree.

    This nuclear suitcase that is carried for the President, which is with him all the time, it has another function. Now it is the symbol of power; whereas, in the past Russian monarchs would be depicted with a crown, with a scepter, and an orb. Now this device replaces that all.

    Thank you.

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, General.

    Mr. Pickett.

    Mr. PICKETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    General Lebed, I am going in a slightly different direction and talk a little bit about your country's economy. You mentioned in your remarks the effort to move toward a market economy, but there are reports that large amounts of capital are leaving your country and going to places like Cypress and other spots in the world where wealthy people tend to congregate.

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    This indicates a lack of confidence in your economic system by the wealthy people that are profiting most from your system. Could you tell our committee where you think your country is in this process of getting to a market economy? Do you think where you are now is irreversible and that the commitment is firm?

    And how long do you think it will take for this conversion to reach a point where you can say that you do indeed have a market economy?

    General LEBED. Thank you. Perhaps I was not quite clear in my words. But I never mentioned that we do have well-developed market economic relationships. I only said that I am a proponent, that I am a supporter of market economy.

    Mr. Weldon kindly informed me today of the scope and volume of American aid, including financial aid, to Russia. And I was sitting and sadly thinking that first American humanitarian aid was stolen. Now the same is happening to the American money. Equally with the French money or German money and the like.

    In this respect, nothing has changed in Russia. It is the old party bureaucratic system or nomenclature which is still in power in our country, which hastily repainted itself into democratic colors. But they are doing only what they can do. They can't behave any different.

    The democratic superstructure is attracting foreign investment, and the money is stolen. And then it goes back to the West, but not as the property of the Western countries, but rather as the money belonging to those criminal or semicriminal groups.

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    The privatization was conducted in the interest of at most 5 percent of the population. The middle class at best amounts to 8 percent of the population. The tax policy pursued in Russia puts a fat cross on all of the attempts of people to create a small- or medium-sized business.

    Criminals are ubiquitous, and there is bureaucratic arbitrariness raging in the country. All U.S. businessmen I have met in the past week, without exception, have noted the fact. There is capital flight from Russia.

    All population is engaged in tax evasion, because tax is insane. Investments are not protected, and there are no guarantees for the investors. Legislation is becoming less and less civilized.

    Well, all the miracles I know of, like the so-called Japanese miracle, Korean miracle, took, say, 5 years. At least within 5 years it became clear to those nations that they were on the right track.

    Now, we have been in this transformation process for 7 years now, and the only result is that 85 percent of the population is around the poverty line. Huge amounts of foreign money was stolen and pocketed. As a result, I say we are further from the market reforms and democratic transformations than we were in 1991.

    So, I would like simply to ask you once again to stop financing people who simply are not decent and who steal your money. If you stop financing them, you will help Russia become a civilized nation. And then there will be no alternative to the market.

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    Then Russia will tear off the mask that it is sick and tired of, the mask of a country which is making believe that it has democracy, a nation pretending that it has market relations and trying to show to the world and would at long last commence the real democratic market reforms.

    Thank you.

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Pickett.

    Mr. Bartlett.

    Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you very much, and welcome to our committee.

    Our Government is encouraging [NATO] North Atlantic Treaty Organization expansion into the Eastern European bloc countries. My question is: What do you understand is the reason that our Government would be promoting that? Who would benefit if NATO were expanded into the Eastern European bloc countries? And would it make the world more secure?

    General LEBED. Thank you. As I have said, I perceive no serious military threats to Russia from the Western civilization. I have also depicted the disposition of the players on the board, that is, a prosperous consolidated Western world led by the United States. On the other hand, Russia is suffering a systemic crisis.

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    And it will take Russia a long time to become a real competitor for the West, if that can happen at all, even if it starts doing everything correctly tomorrow on. And again, because of its very poor economic conditions, Russia cannot even think about any form of aggression.

    Now, I believe it is unethical to speculate on the motives of your political leadership. I can only express my point of view. This NATO expansion process is under way. Russia is outside the process. Russia is in no position to exert any form of influence on the process at all. I would say they sit on the side of the road of that process, and to complain and to cry out is a humiliating business. So I am not going to do that.

    That is why I would like to put it this way. If the NATO member countries and the United States have spare cash to burn, if the smart Western politicians and military strategists believe that their military might would grow tremendously by including in NATO the Czech Republic, and if the Western taxpayers, who I think can count money very well, if they do not object, go ahead, expand. They will each have their follies, no problem.

    Thank you very much.

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Bartlett.

    Mr. Abercrombie, from Hawaii.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

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    Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I would like to wish our guest a big aloha. That is a Hawaiian word that means you are welcome here.

    Mr. Chairman, this is a unique day. And, again with your permission, I would like to present General Lebed with a gift from Hawaii.

    I would like to say to you, General, that I consider this one of the best experiences I have had in the Congress, and I am very grateful to you and to Chairman Weldon for it. I think that this is going to prove to be a major step in the relationship between Russia and the United States.

    To be able to speak with you in person is not just an honor, but I think we will find, as a result of the hearing today, Members of Congress having a new and deeper understanding of the necessity of the relationship between Russia and the United States.

    With that, Mr. Chairman, I would like to say in Hawaiian to General Lebed, (in Hawaiian); (in English) ''If you have salt, you have a meal.''

    I would like to present you with a gift of salt from all of the islands in the Hawaiian chain as a measure of the hospitality that we would like to extend to you one day and that we know the Russian people are famous for.

    And I would like to present to you as well, because I know this is a long day and you need energy, chocolate-covered Macadamia nuts from the Hawaiian islands. [Applause.]

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    Mr. WELDON. Now we are going to ask Mr. Abercrombie to do the hula. [Laughter.]

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I am sure you will agree, General, that it is the human equation that is the most important one. And in Hawaii we extend our hospitality to people all over the world, and we most certainly extend it to you as members of this subcommittee.

    I am very interested in your remarks with respect to the formation of an armed international police force, well trained and involving mixed units.

    I just got back from Bosnia on a congressional delegation under the Defense appropriations chair, Mr. Young, of Florida, a bipartisan Republican and Democrat delegation.

    While there, we saw in operation the development of a police force that would command the respect of the various communities, Serbian, Croatian, Christian, Muslim, in the area of the zone of separation between the Federated States and the Republic of Serbska.

    The object of the creation of the international police task force is to develop a system of justice and a cadre of police officials who will engender in the population a sense of hope and confidence that they will be treated fairly.

    While your remarks in your testimony indicate that you are thinking along the lines of an international force which may be able to go into difficult political situations and command respect, I would like to know, in the present circumstances facing the former Yugoslavia, in the area in which Russia obviously has a very profound interest, the conflict with the Serbs, the Croats, maybe extending into Cosavo now, I would like your opinion as to whether or not the international police task force, as envisioned by the Dayton agreement, is a possible fruitful first step in the creation of this kind of force and that it would help to prevent hostilities and difficulties?

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    General LEBED. Thank you for the kind words. Thank you for the very nice present.

    Now, your question. I have fought a lot in my life. And I have come to the conclusion that the supreme weapon given to us by God is the reason or intelligence. It is a weapon second to none. Actually, it is indeed the supreme weapon. So using it, we can resolve any problem whatsoever.

    And the force that has taken shape in Bosnia, the like of it will be capable of resolving almost any task, provided two conditions are met. One, this fist will be with brains and behind this force there will be law, or it will be backed by law.

    Thank you.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Abercrombie.

    From the great State of Virginia, Mr. Bateman.

    Mr. BATEMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    And let me add a word of welcome to General Lebed. We are very pleased and privileged to have you before us today and to have you share your views with us.

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    Let me, if I may, comment that I fervently, and I think this is a view that most of the people that I represent share, that Russia will be able to resolve the systemic crisis, as you describe it. It is certainly completely consistent with the best interest not only of your country but I fervently believe also our country.

    I am interested in hearing you share your views further on how you think Russia will be able to get through the systemic crisis and whether or not you see any risk of a coup of some kind, either from the military or other factions within the Russian society, as you try to resolve this crisis and bring about, hopefully, a democratic free market-oriented society.

    General LEBED. Thank you. Unfortunately, we are all dealing with a vicious circle in our relationships. Quite logically, all the democratic at heart Congressmen and Senators of the United States are telling us Russians: First set your house in order and then we shall talk.

    Your legislation is wild, your taxes are huge, your criminals are ubiquitous. You have more bureaucrats than gangsters. You are a rock which is impossible to understand. No matter from which side you are approached, something is bound to happen to you. You will either be cheated or robbed or they will beat you up or they will even kill you.

    In short, first have your problems resolved and then we shall talk. On the other hand, the volume of problems facing Russia is such that it is almost impossible to resolve them on our own. Probably we can, but then those methods of putting the house in order will be far from democratic.

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    As far as those instances of aid and assistance provided to Russia that Gilmer informed me of today, are elements of an unconcerted action. They were all performed not in accordance with a single comprehensive plan.

    Let us put it this way. It is like trying to make a democratic hit with an open fist. Now, he who strikes with an open fist, he breaks his fingers. However, if we look hard into the history of our relationship since 1985, when Peristroika was declared, no comparable to Marshall plan program was ever offered to Russia.

    And if the Western countries pursue their policy of closing their nose in disgust, that they do not feel like helping Russia now because of its internal problems, what they can get is a hugely criminalized territory embittered to the possible human limits population.

    I would say that the Marshall plan was a stroke of genius that helped the United States turn their former enemies into partners, allies, and ultimately friends.

    Once again do I turn to this book. And once again I would like to repeat that within a month this book will be delivered here, and we have here all the possible scenarios of development.

    Mr. BATEMAN. I look forward to reading that book.

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Bateman.

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    From the State of Mississippi, Mr. Taylor.

    Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    We, Members of Congress, welcome you in our attempts to try to put some of the ugly and dangerous legacies of the cold war between our Nation and the former Soviet Union to rest.

    In my capacity on the Personnel Committee, I am often contacted by the widows, the wives, the children of American service people who strongly believe that their husbands, their dads, could be alive and in Russia as a result of the wars in both Korea and Vietnam.

    Something that I had hoped would occur as a result of the demise of the Soviet Union, but have not yet seen coming from the Government of Russia, is a full accounting of those American servicemen who it is commonly believed were brought to the Soviet Union at a different time, a different conflict, a conflict that is over.

    In order to bring some peace to those people's hearts and let them know their whereabouts if they are alive and fate if they are not, I would ask you as the former head of the Soviet military if you have any knowledge, or anyone you know has any knowledge, of Americans who are still in Russia, either of their own free will or against their will.

    General LEBED. Thank you for raising this very humane topic. A nation which has self-respect when sending its soldiers to war is obliged to ensure that all the live soldiers, when the war is over, would get home, and all of those fallen would have an individual grave.

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    I support this approach, and I have always been guided by these thoughts in my life. And I am prepared to give my full support to such sacred matters. I feel ashamed for my country.

    I feel very ashamed, because in the refrigerator trains of Rostov military medical laboratory, there are unidentified bodies of 496 people. And just in the city of Groznyy alone there are 58 mass graveyards where from 3 to 25 corpses are found.

    I understand the issue you raised. It has been raised many times. Two-and-a-half years ago we discussed this issue with the then Ambassador of the United States, Mr. Pickering. You will agree that it is insane to keep a soldier, a private, in prison simply because he was sent by his mother country to war.

    So, when the Soviet Union was collapsing, when the doors of the prisons were thrown open and prisoners were released, and if the people you mentioned were not found there, we must acknowledge that probably they are not alive. But we are obligated. We must try and find their graves.

    In this matter, I am at one with you, and I am prepared to give you my full support. Thank you.

    Mr. TAYLOR. General, I very much appreciate your comments. But it is not every day that I get the opportunity to speak with the former head of the Russian military, and it will probably be a long time before I get another chance.

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    So, specifically, my question would be: Are you either now, or were you ever, personally aware of Americans being held captive in the former Soviet Union or now?

    Mr. WELDON. Before the General answers that question, just let me repeat for the record that General Lebed was not the head of the entire Russian military, the Soviet military. He was a senior general who commanded certain divisions in the Russian military and was never Defense Minister. So we just need to note that for the record.

    Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you for that clarification, Mr. Chairman.

    General LEBED. I am very grateful to the chairman, who came to help me. In Afghanistan I was a battalion commander, in Moldova I was an army commander. But then I was visiting all the hot beds of tension. With full responsibility, I can tell you that I have never crossed roads with American soldiers or servicemen or prisoners.

    I have never fought them, and I can assume that they never fought me. So, we have never dealt with any prisoners of war or wounded American servicemen. And I can assure you that I have never heard from the people who I have dealt with about such instances.

    Thank you.

    Mr. TAYLOR. If I may thank the General for his responding to the question. And I think he knows of my request to him. I have clearly heard his request of this committee, and I will do what I can to honor his request, and I would hope that he would honor mine.

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    Mr. WELDON. I thank the gentleman.

    Mr. Saxton, of New Jersey.

    Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    General, I would like to, of course, add my words of welcome to you and thanks to you for being here. When I grew up and when you grew up, we had American weapons pointed at your country, and you had Soviet weapons pointed at our country.

    And, it is, to say the least, a refreshing and exhilarating experience to be here with you today and to have heard you say in your opening statement that our roles together today are to solve problems together that face both of our nations.

    Certainly, many years ago, when I was a young man, I never thought that we would have this experience together. So, I appreciate this moment very much.

    Let me ask you a specific question about an issue that the chairman discussed in a general sense, and that you did as well. General, since the fall of 1997, an intense debate has been taking place here in Washington in official circles, the statement that you made some months ago that several nuclear suitcase bombs disappeared from the Russian arsenal. And subsequent Senate testimony of Professor Yablokov, who was a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a former aide to President Yeltsin, confirmed the loss.

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    Since that time accumulating evidence strongly suggests that at least some ex-Soviet nuclear weapons are, in fact, unaccounted for. Several of these weapons, both tactical warheads for Scud-type ballistic missiles and aerial bombs for tactical fighter bombers, are known or, at least, strongly believed to have found their way to Iran and North Korea.

    Both of these regimes, that is Iran and North Korea, may not be the only customers of missing nuclear bombs from your arsenal. And particularly in the case of suitcase bombs, which cause us a great deal of concern as well, because as you have pointed out correctly, they make very effective terrorist devices and weapons.

    In November 1997, Professor Yablokov asserted that the PLO has twice said that it has weapons allegedly illegally purchased from Russia. Actually, to my knowledge, the PLO has never made such a claim, although I certainly defer to others who may have other information.

    Since around 1993 and 1994 Russian intelligence and security forces have been investigating persistent reports that, in fact, a Palestinian, whose name I have in front of me but will not use in this forum because of the wide media coverage, actually purchased such weapons for Palestinian use.

    According to these reports, in the spring of 1994, this individual purchased two compact neutron bombs, that is enhanced radiation or dirty suitcase bombs. He first arrived in Russia, apparently, in 1977 as a student, worked in the PLO office in Moscow, later traveled to the United States, and apparently had a great deal of experience in trying to obtain these weapons.

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    Many believe that there should be no doubt that this individual, or others, have been trying to procure these suitcase bombs and that there is ample evidence that a lot of money has changed hands in this regard. However, I can find in my efforts no independent hard evidence that these weapons were actually acquired by the PLO.

    Would you comment on this issue for our enlightenment?

    General LEBED. Thank you. Well, to the information you have given, I can only say that this person is a Jordanian by nationality and he, until recently, was publishing an issue called Alkord, and now it is called a Duell.

    It is very important to separate in such instances disinformation from true information. And to provide competent answers to such questions, one should have sufficient authority and access to reliable information sources.

    I checked this information from the information channels that I have access to, and I received no confirmation. I cannot guarantee that I have checked everything. But if I have the authority and power to do that, I will resolve this problem.

    We have come to the stage when we can destroy each other without any war. We can destroy ourselves just because of those stockpiles of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons because of the lack of elementary order in the country, for the lack of responsibility of the top bureaucrats in the country.

    So, I am not denying your information nor can I confirm it. Thank you.

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    Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, General.

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Saxton.

    We have three more members who are here to ask questions. And I would like to go additionally, but I understand the time constraint we are under. By the order of arrival when the gavel went down, we have Mr. Hilleary from Tennessee, and we will follow that with Mr. Turner from Texas and Mr. Snyder from Arkansas.

    Mr. Hilleary.

    Mr. HILLEARY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is a tremendous hearing. I congratulate you. And, General, thank you so much for being here. It is a tremendous occasion, I think, for this committee.

    This may be a simplified question, but I have always just wanted to ask someone in your position this question. I have never understood why the Russians, or the Soviets, have thought that the Americans were a huge threat from an offensive or from an aggressive standpoint.

    I realize we were maybe a threat potentially because we were reasonably powerful, but I always wondered why the Russians felt like we were aggressive in nature, because I do not know of anything that indicates that.

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    From our point of view, and part of this hearing is about learning more about each other, and I just want to share with you from the American point of view that there is not many aggressive bones in our body over here.

    Recently there was some talk about maybe bombing Iraq. And the big argument over here was we do not ever do that without first being bombed ourselves. And, of course, it never happened. And, of course, it would take much more to make an aggressive decision to make some aggression against a powerful country like the Soviet Union or Russia.

    Anyway, I have always wondered from your perspective what it was exactly that made the Russians think that we were going to get them and therefore it was a big problem. And I would be interested to know what we could do to fix that perception, if that perception still exists.

    But following on with that very quickly, you talked about sending assistance to Russia, you talked about the Marshall Plan being a great idea. But you also talked about assistance that already goes to Russia goes into black market hands, et cetera. What motivation can you give us that would be positive, what safeguards could you put in place if assistance was sent.

    In our country, our Defense Department-and we call it Defense Department, not a war department. And that may not seem like a big deal except those kinds of changes in this country reflect public sentiment or they would not be done. Our Defense Department has been cut back considerably since the cold war was over to meet our other social needs. And I wonder maybe if the Russians have done as much cutting back in their military to meet some of their social needs.

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    That is a bunch of questions. Answer any one you want to. Thank you very much, General.

    General LEBED. Thank you. I am surprised that you are surprised. How can we otherwise account for the 70 years of brainwashing and propaganda when day in and day out newspapers, radio, magazines, television would, you know, depict the image of a beastly scowl of imperialism. And this scowl, to look more convincing, it is supported with a map.

    On the map, you can see that the Soviet Union is surrounded by hundreds of American military bases. And in great detail it is written there what armaments and material was located in each military base. How many Pershings are located on the territory of Western Germany, how many nuclear silos there are.

    And then this information is supported by hard facts of life. Grenada has been hit hard by the United States, and so has been Panama. I am just giving you a few examples.

    So that is why I told you that the old thinking is still very strong. The inertia of the old thinking is very strong. But I say it is mutual. I believe it was President Reagan who coined the phrase ''the evil empire.'' So I suppose he was also properly ideologically indoctrinated.

    So we simply got used to admiring each other through the rifle site. And it is our joint psychological mission to get rid of this psychological habit.

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    As far as your second question is concerned, the recommendations will be very simple. Funds, finances, loans should be made available and one should continue with that. But it should be designated financing through very well thought through and transparent schemes, schemes that must to be auditable at each stage.

    Now, stop believing scoundrels at their words, stop taking them at their face value: We are very progressive, we are very democratically minded, please give us something. It sounds funny, but people give them money. So let us put an end to such strange practices and then this problem will disappear.

    Thank you.

    Mr. HILLEARY. Thank you, General.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. WELDON. I thank the gentleman.

    The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Turner.

    Mr. TURNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    General Lebed, thank you so much for being here with us today. It certainly, I think, gives each of us on this committee, and perhaps in the entire room, a sense of history to see you here.

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    I, as a child, can remember going through as an elementary student the nuclear attack drills that we would have in our little community to be prepared for a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.

    So we all come here today grateful that we are able to sit across the table and dialog. And I think it is certainly a dialog that needed to take place, and I think you have done a very outstanding job of opening that dialog up for us.

    As Members of Congress who stand for election every 2 years, I can certainly tell you that each of us can appreciate why you are so personally popular in Russia. Your candor and your demeanor today has certainly been impressive to all of us, and we appreciate your willingness to be here.

    One of our former Presidents from Texas, where I am from, President Johnson, used to cite as one of his favorite scriptures from the Bible: ''Come let us reason together.''

    And I was impressed with your comment that you felt one of the supreme gifts from God is our ability to reason. And perhaps some of the problems you have raised today are a reflection of our lack of willingness to sit down and reason with our friends in Russia.

    I know that you laid out for us your belief that we should have a Marshall plan for Russia. And I know each of us on this committee understand that it is in our national interest in the United States to be sure we have a strong and prosperous Russia.

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    Our history over a brief span of 200 years has been a good one because we have always been able to assure our children and our grandchildren that their economic status would be better than it was for us. And you, too, must be able to assure your people of that to have the stability that you want for your people.

    I suppose that we did not have a Marshall plan for maybe several reasons for Russia. First of all, I think we had such confidence in the free enterprise system that we thought once Russia moved to a democracy and to capitalism that it would happen automatically. Our faith in that system is so great that maybe we did not realize the difficulty you would face.

    And perhaps we did not perceive, as you do, that we still believe Russia to be a powerful nation. Oftentimes I hear comments made by people from Russia that they think that the United States looks upon Russia now as a second-class nation. I do not think that is the perception. I think we still hold to the old views of the power of the Soviet Empire and that Russia continues to be a nation of some strength.

    We read about the difficulties of your military, but still I do not think those stories have sunk through to us that you are struggling to try to put capitalism and democracy in place. And, of course, here in the United States we struggle with our own budget.

    We have finally come to the point where we want to balance our budget, not spend more money every year than we take in. And we do not have a lot of extra funds, I think, to be as generous in programs as you would suggest in a Marshall plan for Russia.

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    But I do think that you need to help us here today, and you have touched upon it a couple of times, because I think we are left somewhat perplexed as to what to do from here. Because you have told us that the investments and the aid that we have been giving to Russia, that it falls into the wrong hands, and that if we are going to be true partners in helping build a strong and prosperous system of capitalism and democracy for Russia, that we have to be sure the money that we give gets into the right hands.

    And I think the same would probably apply to investments from the private sector. In the United States today we have many people who are enjoying a prosperous economy. We have money to invest, our stock market is reaching new heights.

    I am sure American businessmen would look, and do look, with favor upon investment opportunities. And yet I would suppose you would tell me today that even those investments may be falling into the wrong hands.

    So, it would be easy for us to say you need to help us, because we want to be a partner. But how do we tell the good guys from the bad guys in terms of how we are to proceed from here.

    We want the dollars that we sent to help to be used wisely, and we want American investors who desire to be a part of what we hope to be a growing economy in Russia, we want them to have confidence that their investments will return a reasonable profit.

    So, is there any additional advice that you can give us here that might lead us on to the right path?

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    General LEBED. Thank you. I do not remember the name, but there was a smart American. He used to say that it is not sufficient to lather your foam, you have also got to work. So that is why I always say that it is not sufficient just to announce or declare democracy. Democracy is to be built. You have to work to build democracy.

    And it is a colossal undertaking. And it took truly democratic nations about 20 years or so to build true democracy. Whereas, we went to bed on August 21, 1991, under a totalitarian regime and we got up in the morning, the next day, and we were told that now we live under democracy. Not just democracy, but actually the most democratic democracy. And in certain places, much better than American. So the order was to rejoice from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a lunch break.

    So, running for Governor in the Province of Krasnoyarsk, I would like to set a model. I want to make a system that would be predictable, that one would be able to understand, so that there would be a system of guarantees and privileges to investors, both domestic and international.

    I want to ensure legislative support for small- and medium-sized business. I need to create a model. This is what I mean by saying a new power center. So, this should be the power center from which new civilized Russia would develop that would follow civilized rules, that will learn to respect itself. And having attained self-respect, would stop all of the cheats and crooks.

    That is why I am leaving Moscow. I am convinced nothing much can be done in Moscow now. Moscow is an advertisement of our democratic reforms, a showcase. He who wants to see how things are in actual fact, to see the real Russia, they should go 150 kilometers away from Moscow.

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    Mothers and teachers taught us that we should be honest, reliable, and responsible. And on the one hand, it seems so easy to be honest; on the other hand, it is so difficult. So, I would like to create a system where honesty will be the best policy, where it will be profitable to be honest. But no one in Russia now believes anyone's words. So, only one way is left for me. I have to put my words into life.

    Thank you.

    Mr. TURNER. Thank you, General Lebed. We wish you well and God speed.

    Mr. WELDON. I thank the gentleman from Texas.

    The gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Snyder.

    Mr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for arranging this hearing.

    General, in your statement, in your list of what you call serious threats to Russian security, you put at the top of the list the problem of proliferation and the use of weapons of mass destruction. From your perspective as a military leader, what nations do you see that put Russia at risk if these weapons of mass destruction were to proliferate too?

    General LEBED. Well, theoretically, any, no matter how large it is. It is important what weapons it has and how it is to deliver a strike. I mentioned a priori. I am not going to point to any enemies.

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    Now, naming some country, I may indirectly turn some countries into enemies. So, with your question, you are directly forcing me to do it. It is not too good.

    Mr. SNYDER. I understand. We had the former Secretary of Defense here that says if you call someone an enemy often enough, they eventually become their enemy. And I understand what you are saying.

    The second question, given the problems that you have articulated that the Russian economy is having, how much economic pressure do you think there is to export military technology that Russia would otherwise prefer not to export except for the economic pressures?

    If I might perhaps clarify. Arms sales have always been a good cash crop for certain countries. Is Russia now in a position of having to sell arms and technology that otherwise it would not be selling except for the status of the economy?

    General LEBED. The Soviet Union had a very powerful military industrial complex. The military industrial complex of the Sertenian, for dozens of years it accumulated the best minds, and enormous money was invested in it.

    And we were successfully competing with the American military industrial complex by trading arms around the globe, a full range of weapons. Then for known reasons, the huge military industrial complex was put to a halt.

    I can assure you once again that no serious work was done to carry out a well thought through scientific conversion plan. What was offered was to start producing pens or survive as you can. Our people, as we say, have nine lives as cats. So we started surviving.

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    A military transport plane fell on Irkutsk, and inside there were two fighters. The value of those fighters was $54 million. Well, no one quite can make out how they got there.

    The most sophisticated weapon systems are being sold to China, the full nomenclature. What does China pay back with? With underpants, socks, handkerchiefs, so-called barter deals.

    So, I wouldn't even say we have a State policy or a Government policy. It is rather the sign that there is no comprehensive policy. It is a sign that the arms trade was given into the hands of just traders, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations. And there is no State structure about those traders to determine the national strategy or the national security policy. So now anything that is bought is being traded.

    I am not aware of any purchases of nuclear warheads or nuclear charges. The rest I heard was on sale. So it is senseless to give a list or assortment of weapon systems being sold. Everything is on sale. With licenses and without. Directly and through third countries.

    When you are hungry, you can sell anything. And some people can't produce anything but tanks. What should they do?

    Thank you.

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    Mr. SNYDER. Thank you, General. I appreciate you being here today and hope you enjoy the rest of your trip in the United States.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. WELDON. I thank the gentleman, and I thank the General for being here.

    General, I told you we would try to keep you until approximately 4 o'clock. We have one quick question from Congressman Bartlett, and then I will wrap it up and end the session.

    Congressman Bartlett, real quickly.

    Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you very much.

    I am sure that each of our countries does things that mystifies the other. I would like to mention a few things that are reported in our papers about what is going on in Russia and ask if you can help us understand.

    It is reported that you continue to expand your deep underground bunkers around Moscow, all connected by very deep rail systems, all very nuclear secure. You continue to launch submarines which are as good or better than ours.

    You frequently sail to our coast undetected. Your submarines are really quite good. You continue, we are told, to build biological weapons. And you continue to spend perhaps as much as $4 billion on Yamantau Mountain, which is the world's largest most nuclear-secure facility.

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    You do this while, as you admit, you have very large internal needs, infrastructure needs. You cannot pay your soldiers. You cannot meet your obligations on the space station. And yet you continue to make these expenditures. Can you help us understand?

    General LEBED. Thank you. I find myself somewhat confused. I would like to ask you, whose lives are supposed to be saved by those underground facilities? Bill Clinton's big friend, Boris Yeltsin, and his family of servants? The Vice President's big friend, Victor Chernomyrdin's family, with whom he has been clapping hands in the joint commission for 5 years?

    I wasn't invited there. What prevented you from asking Mr. Chernomyrdin. I understand he recently visited Washington. I know about the underground facilities built under Stalin. My headache in 1996 was to find money to mothball that construction so that it wouldn't be flooded or destroyed by the ground shifts.

    Now, I dealt with the problem, but the problem was to mothball those facilities. And that was a big headache. I have tackled quite a few problems. But now in the naval bases, we have 132 nuclear submarines with not dismantled nuclear reactors, decommissioned nuclear submarines. And it is not clear where to get huge amounts of money to disassemble and dismantle those nuclear reactors.

    I don't know, it may well be that that information is just another myth about the Soviet military threat. I think that what is being done is very strongly the American taxpayers are being ideologically brainwashed. You see how treacherous those Russians are. So you really must pay for NATO's expansion.

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    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Bartlett.

    Let me just say, General, before I close, that I have over the past year on at least nine separate occasions asked the current administration of Russia to provide transparency on Yamantau Mountain so that we can understand.

    I have offered to go there and visit. I wrote a three-page letter to President Yeltsin in July, which I have yet got no response to. I have raised the issue with Minister Mikailov, Minister Orlov, with Deputy Minister Kercoshin.

    And it is exactly for the reason that you mentioned, because it has raised so much to me in my efforts to work with Russia that I do not have an answer. And the way to get beyond this is to be honest and just talk about what it is, if it is a public works project, get beyond it and focus on ways that we can cooperate together.

    But we have tried, and we have gotten several different answers on what the purpose is. In 1991, the general in charge of the project, Sirkinov, said it was an ore mining facility. In 1992, he said it was a site for storing food and clothing. And in 1993 and 1994, the intelligence community in Russia said that Russia was entitled to State secrets, which they are.

    But the point is that our intelligence has no idea what the complex is, and it is a growing concern among Members of Congress as to why this huge project involving two closed cities, Baliretzk 15 and Baliretzk 16, would continue with the economic problems that Russia has today. But that is an issue we have to continue to work.

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    Let me just say in closing that your testimony has been candid, forthright. You have been very open, and we appreciate that. We asked you here and invited you here to learn, to learn your perspectives on the state of Russia, especially from a national security standpoint.

    And we understand that on many occasions you have disagreed with the current administration in Russia, an administration that I have a great deal of respect for and that I will continue to work with. We also respect the democracy in Russia and your right to run for public office and to seek the support of the voters in Russia as you are doing.

    Let me also add that you have provided some very interesting ideas for us. The need for a Marshall plan. In fact, before the hearing, since you outlined this to us last evening, one of our former national security advisors who has sat through this entire hearing, Sven Kramer, suggested perhaps you ought to rename that and we ought to call it the Lebed plan, a plan to work with Russia and with you to look for ways that we can more aggressively help Russia stabilize itself.

    Over the past year I have traveled to your country 4 times out of my 14 visits to your nation, and have been working with colleagues to try to provide a housing mortgage financing system for the average Russian family, bypassing your banks that take too much interest from the people and that will not loan money for long periods of time.

    Our whole purpose in establishing a mortgage financing program is to help Russia create a middle class. As you said at the beginning, only 8 percent of Russia's population is middle class. What has stabilized America since the Great Depression has been the middle class, and the development of that middle class has largely been stabilized by an aggressive housing construction industry.

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    And we are committed to continuing to work on those kinds of initiatives while talking about defense and security concerns. In fact, in the third week of April, I will cohost, with Sherry Goodman from the Department of Defense, 20 senior Russian leaders from the State Duma. And we will have discussions about defense environmental cooperation.

    On one day we will discuss the housing initiative, which I have discussed with Speaker Selisniov and the factional leaders of the various factions in the State Duma, even Chirnovsky. And on another day we will discuss the formation of a nuclear waste commission to deal with the nuclear waste problem, as you have outlined it, that both Russia and the United States have, especially that of decommissioned nuclear submarines.

    So, I say to you at the conclusion of your visit, you have sparked some new ideas. You have sparked some new feelings, and I think you have created a new effort at working more aggressively with you, particularly you as a leader, and we look forward to continuing that dialog.

    And, hopefully, when you return to America, it will be as an elected official so that we can continue to work on the Lebed plan and other ideas that you have promised to us.

    So, I thank you for being here, and I thank the American Foreign Policy Council for its support of this effort, and all the staff of the National Security Committee, who have worked so tirelessly along with my staff to make sure this hearing has come off without a glitch.

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    Thank you. The hearing stands adjourned.

    [Whereupon, at 4:28 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.]

    "The Official Committee record contains additional material here."

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