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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

RT-2PM - SS-25 SICKLE - Western Views

As of 1985, the US Government judged, based on "convincing" evidence gathered from nearly three years of Soviet testing of the SS-25, that the throw weight of the Soviet SS-25 ICBM exceeded by more than five percent the throw weight of the Soviet SS-13 ICBM and cannot therefore be considered a permitted modernization of the SS-13 as the Soviets claimed.

The SS-25 (a derivative of the SS-16 ICBM) was a prohibited second "new type" of ICBM and its testing, in addition to the testing of the SS-X-24 ICBM, thereby was a violation of the Soviet Union's political commitment to observe the "new type" provision of the SALT Treaty. The deployment of this missile during 1985 constituted a further violation of the SALT II prohibition on a second "new type" of ICBM.

The U.S. Government reaffirmed the conclusion of the January 1984 report regarding the SS-25 RV-to-throw-weight ratio. That is, if the US were to accept the Soviet argument that the SS-25 is not a prohibited "new type" of ICBM, it would be a violation of their political commitment to observe the SALT II provision which prohibits the testing of such an existing ICBM with a single reentry vehicle whose weight is less than 50 percent of the throw-weight of the ICBM.

The US Government reaffirmed its judgment made in the. January 1984 report regarding telemetry encryption during tests of the SS-25. Encryption during tests of this missile was illustrative of the deliberate impeding of verification of compliance in violation of the USSR's political commitment.

Despite U.S. requests for explanations and corrective actions with regard to the SS-25 ICBM-related activities, Soviet actions continued unchanged, and the Soviet Union proceeded to deployment of these missiles.

At the time of the signing of the Start-1 treaty in 1991 the Soviet Union had deployed some 288 Topol missiles. Deployment continued, and at the end of 1996 a total of 360 Topol missiles were deployed.

The Topol missile was deployed at previously developed deployment sites. After the INF-Treaty was signed in 1987 several SS-20 Pioneer deployment sites were adapted to launch the SS-25 Topol missiles. The United States expressed specific concerns during the INF treaty negotiations. When the SS-25 missile system was deployed in the field, with its missile inside the canister and mounted on the launcher, the US contended that the canister might conceal an SS-20 missile. This was of concern because unlike the sigle warhead of the SS-25, the SS-20 carried up to 3 warheads. A resolution was reached after the Soviet Union agreed to allow inspection parties to use radiation detection systems to measure fast neutron intensity flux emanating from the launch canister. A launch canister with a missile inside containing a single warhead (SS-25) emitted a different pattern of fast neutrons than did one with a missile having three warheads (SS-20).

Provisions of the SALT-2 agreement prohibited the deployment of more than one new missile (which became RT-23UTTh), it was officially declared by the Soviet Union that the SS-25 Topol was developed to upgrade the silo based SS-13 RT-2P. The US government disputed this view, contending that the missile was clearly more than 5% larger and had twice the throw-weight as the SS-13 and therefore constituted a new misile system.

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