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Tiny U.S. Embassy 'Bugs' Called Decoys for Big Ones

September 23, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The Soviet Union designed pillars, door frames, walls and floors of the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow as huge listening devices and planted hundreds of tiny "bugs" as decoys to fool security agents, according to U.S. intelligence sources.

These sources said U.S. fears that even the most sensitive safes and vaults would be vulnerable to surveillance prompted Administration officials to consider razing the new embassy and demanding that the Soviets construct a new one.

Ironically, a senior State Department official said, the Soviets may end up paying most of the costs of rebuilding the embassy because the United States bought $100 million in insurance on the structure from Soviet government agencies. The issue of financial responsibility for the security gaps appears certain to be a subject of negotiation, the official said.

Although reports persist that the new embassy was riddled with tiny electronic listening devices, U.S. intelligence agencies learned about two years ago that the Soviets planted these sensors as decoys, these sources said.

The small bugs were designed to disguise the transmitting properties of "whole prefabricated sections" of the structure, they said. The electronic maze also was difficult to detect because some devices were programmed to activate only after a year or two, the sources said.

One source described the yet-to-be-completed construction of the embassy as a "noteworthy Soviet intelligence coup," the culmination of two decades of research and labor.

"The embassy was constructed to be nothing but a huge listening device," this source said.

Another source, a Pentagon analyst, said, "The whole place is one gigantic bug."

The United States is considering razing the five completed floors on what was to have been an eight-story structure. Rep. Daniel A. Mica (D-Fla.) said after a meeting with State Department and CIA officials Tuesday that any decision would be put off for at least a year.

(Story, Page 5.)

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