Fifteen Soviet inspectors have passed the baton to another batch of treaty monitors who will continue to verify that no Pershing II missile motors are being built in Utah.
Of course, who could blame the new arrivals if they take in a few American pastimes during their six-week stay here - such as hot tubbing and shopping in discount department stores?The distinctions between the departing Soviets and their replacements Tuesday were most evident in their dress. While returning inspectors carried evidence of visits to western-wear shops, discount shoe stores and fast-food joints, newcomers wore suits and sweated in the Utah sun.
The inspectors, many clad in denim and western shirts and belts, boarded a military plane at 5 p.m. Tuesday en route to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., for a flight to the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, their American counterparts in Votkinsk, USSR, were boarding planes to return home, officials for the On-Site Inspection Agency said.
Anatoli Samarin, chief of the initial Soviet inspection team at Hercules, said the rotation met requirements of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty requiring verification of small- and medium-range missiles. He said officials also took into account their homesickness.
"All inspectors are doing their job in such a way as not to compromise the implementation of the treaty in some way," Samarin said in welcoming the new crew of inspectors.
The INF treaty calls for continuous monitoring of shipments from Hercules to ensure production of the Pershing II missile hasn't resumed.
"Those inspectors who are leaving American soil leave with a sense of fulfilled duties," Samarin said. "We wish those who are leaving, `soft landing,' and those who are coming, `best wishes' in performing those official functions."
The departing inspectors helped out the new arrivals in discussing food, fun and work as the plane at the Utah Air National Guard Field was refueled. "You're a little like old timers," said Vladimir Zhukon, an inspector who acted as interpreter for Samarin. He called Utah "a beautiful place; a sort of resort."
"But hot tubs, I think, is something unique to the United States, and perhaps Florida and California have the highest association with the pools," Zhukon said.
"All they managed to see during the time they spent here would not be easy to erase from their memories," Samarin said. "They'll be there for a long time."
Stanislav Fedyarin, chief of the new batch of inspectors, said he and his colleagues will spend the first weeks trying to get a better understanding of what is required in their 24-hour-a-day monitoring at Hercules.
Fedyarin said he and the other inspectors got a sample of American food at Travis AFB, adding, "It tastes wonderful."