Wind whips snow into drifts in the desolate western Salt Lake County site where Soviet inspectors monitor shipments from Hercules Aerospace.
Fourteen months have passed since President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed a treaty calling for elimination of intermediate-range nuclear weapons, such as the Pershing 2. Hercules made the motors for the surface-to-surface missile.The Soviets monitor shipments from Hercules Plant 1 around the clock, inspecting shipments large enough to contain the 12-foot first stage motors.
Americans are stationed at a military plant in Votkinsk, Soviet Union, in accordance with the INF to ensure no intermediate-range nuclear weapons are produced in that country.
The first team of 30 inspectors was a tourist attraction around Hercules' perimeter where members watch shipments from a series of trailers stationed adjacent to a 7-foot chain link fence.
Now, after six months in Utah, the Soviets are pretty much taken for granted at the 7-Eleven on North Temple near the apartment complex the inspectors call home.
"As one of the leaders of your city told us, if the Soviet inspectors just removed the badges which we are to wear in accordance with the provisions of the treaty, it would be difficult to differ them from the citizens of Salt Lake City," said Vacheslav Evdokimov, chief of the Soviet inspection team.
They've also been seen around town, attending Christmas ceremonies and even attending sporting events, such as the Golden Eagles hockey game at the Salt Palace last weekend.
Evdokimov drank instant coffee with three other inspectors on a snowy Salt Lake day and reflected on 1988 and what is possible in 1989.
"In summarizing the results (of 1988), I would say it was the turning point year for bilateral relations between our countries, between the USSR and the USA.
"It's a series of questions, a matters were dealing with here in Salt Lake City," he said.
While ensuring production of the motors for the nuclear missiles has ceased, the inspectors also are pioneers of peace, tearing down some of the stereotypes about the Soviets to make certain the illusion of the evil empire is erased.> The rebuilding comes through meetings with citizen groups, local and church officials and just plain folks, attending meetings and planting trees in the International Peace Gardens.
"In my opinion, these contacts between the people of United States and us . . . just better help us understand each other," said Evdokimov. What the Soviets are like "differs from that which was pictured in some newspapers and organs of mass media previously."
And as the inspectors' presence is seen as mundane, their duties now are routine, examining trucks containing explosives ingredients, garbage and construction materials.
Later this winter, the inspectors will do much of their monitoring remotely with the help of load cells, closed-circuit television cameras and infra-red sensors.> Hercules moth-balled the equipment needed for Pershing 2 missile motor production when it completed its contract with the Air Force in the summer of 1987. The verification process was essential to the treaty.
"I would like to say that our joint work here has put a very good basis, a foundation for our future successes, for our future and our mutual understanding. And I hope that it will facilitate the signing the treaty which is now being debated now in Geneva," Evdokimov said.
U.S. and Soviet negotiators are stuck over terms of the treaty that calls for a 50 percent reduction of strategic armaments.> "But in my point of view it is most essential that all the inspectors who will leave this country will take along with them a piece of the hospitality, attention and kindness which was shown them during our stay here and they will leave a piece of their heart here in Utah and this country and they will remember forever these people here."