Now that the whole world knows the Russians are coming, it pretty much comes down to a matter of when.
U.S. officials now say it's looking less likely that an advance team of five Soviet arms-control inspectors will arrive to set up permanent housekeeping in Utah on Monday as reported earlier.Kendall Pease, public affairs officer for the U.S. On-Site Inspection Agency, said everyone has been assuming that the Soviets are coming - and they are - but nothing has been verified through official channels.
"The problem is that there's really no set schedule," Pease said when contacted Thursday afternoon in Washington, D.C.
"It's a lot like I do with my wife when I'm leaving work to go home. I tell her I'll be home when I get there, said an unnamed high-ranking source obviously wanting to keep his marriage intact.
Pease did say that if the Soviets do intend to be in Utah by Monday, they'll have to be in contact with inspection-agency personnel no later than Friday.
"If they don't, our system doesn't work that fast, Pease said.
Earlier, Army Brig. Gen. Roland Lajoie, inspection agency director, said visas still had not been issued for the Soviets.
Pease also questioned the availability of flights from the Soviet Union to the United States aboard the Soviet airline Aeroflot. "I know they're not going to make a special military jet just for a few people," he said.
Pease said Soviets were the ones who originally requested sending an advance team to work our last-minute logistics and administrative support items before the arrival of the full 30-member contingent, which will be stationed full time in the Salt Lake Valley to monitor U.S. compliance with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty.
A similar American contingent is also being readied for transfer to West Germany sometime next week where they will await word to proceed into the Soviet Union, Pease said.
In Utah, the Soviets will operate a verification facility outside the Hercules Bacchus Works in Magna to ensure American compliance with the treaty, which bans certain mid-range missiles in both the U.S. and Soviet arsenals.
Pease said although the Soviets will conduct spot inspections at 26 sites in the United States and Western Europe to verify the treaty, Magna will be their only permanent portal inspection post.
Members of the Soviet advance team will stay at an area hotel until their comrades arrive on or about July 1, after which they will be housed at the Sun Arbor Apartments on North Temple in Salt Lake City, until a separate permanent residential compound can be built. Land is currently being purchased for the compound.
The United States is spending more than $40 million to build a similar facility in the Soviet city of Votkinsk, where they will verify that the banned Soviet intermediate-range missiles are not assembled there.
Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, remains unsatisfied the U.S. verification team, which will be made up of technicians, can come close to matching the Soviets in intelligence gathering. He's repeatedly warned that the Soviets will be trained spies.
But Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Salt Lake, said he's been assured by the inspection agency that the Soviets will not pack their verification team with spies for fear of jeopardizing this and future arms-control agreements.