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Soviet Missiles Under Accord Are More Expensive : Mid-Range Arms Cost $7.5 Billion

September 23, 1987|ROBERT C. TOTH | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The U.S. intermediate-range missiles that would be destroyed under the tentative U.S.-Soviet arms agreement cost the Pentagon about $7.5 billion to develop and deploy in Europe, according to a new report by an arms control group that studies acquisitions and other weapons data.

No comparable data was available on the Soviet missiles that would be eliminated in the bargain, which is expected to be signed at a U.S.-Soviet summit in Washington this fall. However, Ambassador Edward L. Rowny, a Reagan Administration arms control adviser, estimated that a comparable force of the larger Soviet missiles, each with three warheads, would cost three times as much for the United States to build and deploy.

The cost analysis, titled "Expensive Bargaining Chips," was issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a pro-arms control group that has often been critical of military weapons spending.

It focused on the U.S. Pershing 2 ballistic missiles, which have sophisticated maneuvering warheads, and ground-launched cruise missiles, which are winged, pilotless aircraft. All of the 108 Pershings that were planned have been deployed; about 240 of the planned 464 cruise missiles have been deployed, but almost all the others have been built.

$3.45 Billion on Cruise

The council calculated that $2.46 billion has been spent on the Pershings and $3.45 billion on the cruise missiles since 1975. Only $254 million is needed to complete both programs.

"On top of the Pentagon's budget, the Energy Department spent over $1 billion for approximately 485 W-84 GLCM nuclear warheads and $350 million for about 120 W-85 maneuvering re-entry vehicles and nuclear warheads for the Pershing 2," according to the council's findings, reported in the current Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

An additional $628 million was spent by the United States for six cruise and five Pershing 2 bases and family housing in North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries in which the weapons are based, while the NATO nations allocated about $300 million more for construction of the missile sites.

Robert S. Norris, who helped to prepare the council report, said that the cost data came from selected acquisition reports and budget figures for research and development, procurement and construction.

The Soviet Union does not publish accurate figures on its overall defense spending and none at all on the cost of specific programs. President Reagan has called on the Kremlin to extend its glasnost , or openness, campaign to this area, and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev has hinted that the Soviets may provide more information in the future.

Rowny based his estimate for Soviet costs on the fact that the SS-20 ballistic missiles, compared to the U.S. Pershing 2, is twice the size, has twice the range and carries three warheads rather than one. In addition to the SS-20s, the Soviets will dismantle between 120 and 130 shorter-range, single warhead missiles. No cost estimates are available for these weapons.

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