State Department and CIA officials have told members of Congress that they will wait a year before deciding the fate of the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow that is so infested with Soviet listening devices that it cannot be occupied.
Rep. Daniel A. Mica (D-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on international operations, said that he and other House members met yesterday with Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead and Robert M. Gates, deputy CIA director, following reports that the Reagan administration had "tentatively decided" to tear down five of the eight stories of the new building.
"We have had agreement that nothing will be done to the new building for at least a year," Mica said. Rep. Neal Smith (D-Iowa), chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee, and Rep. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), ranking minority member of Mica's subcommittee on international operations, also attended the meeting.
Studies will be undertaken to
assess the security, technical and engineering aspects of razing part or all of the bug-riddled build- ing, as well as neutralizing the effect of the espionage devices, Mica said.
"We will honestly give fair consideration to all options, but right now I believe that all or a lot of the building will most likely have to be torn down," Mica said.
He estimated that demolishing most of the building and rebuilding the five floors would cost about $90 million.
The old embassy building in Moscow will continue to be occupied for at least the next five years, said Mica. Under the terms of a 15-year-old agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Soviets may not occupy the chancery building of the new embassy complex in the Mount Alto section in Northwest here until U.S. diplomats move into their new Moscow embassy.
Both U.S. and Soviet diplomats have occupied living quarters and other portions of their new embassy complexes.
The old U.S. Embassy in Moscow is in a "horrendous" state, said Mica, adding that his subcommittee will consider redirecting about $30 million from existing funds for major rehabilitation of the building.
"The old building is a safety hazard. It was allowed to fall into disrepair because there was always the belief they would move out
at the end of this year," said
After a visit to Moscow last April, Mica and Snowe issued a report that described the building as lacking "even minimal electrical, sewage and plumbing systems necessary for carrying on normal business operations."
"Falling sections of the building's exterior recently required the installation of a security awning spanning the back of the embassy building to prevent injury," the report said.
The discovery that the new embassy building was honeycombed with Soviet listening devices -- some implanted in precast building materials -- was followed by revelations of security breaches by Marine guards at the embassy.
This year the Marine Corps revised the guard program to include psychological testing of Marines destined for service in Eastern Bloc countries and random lie-detector test for guards in Moscow.
The Marine Corps "has made a really legitimate effort to solve the problems that existed. I am pleased with the actions of the Marines," said Mica, adding that a second hearing would be held this year or early next year to ascertain whether all necessary changes have been made.
Maj. Gen. Carl Mundy, Marine Corps director of operations, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel last month that all of the 29 Marines who replaced those recalled from Moscow at the height of the embassy spy scandal had undergone polygraph tests.
The tour of duty for Moscow had been reduced to six months -- half that of any other Warsaw Pact posting -- and no volunteers for Moscow duty would be accepted, he said.
Marine Sgt. Clayton J. Lonetree, the Moscow guard sentenced last month to 30 years in prison for espionage, had asked to be sent to Moscow, where, after a year, he met with and gave sensitive information to a member of the Soviet secret police, or KGB, according to testimony at his court-martial.