President Reagan said Thursday that he had “no choice” but to decide to raze the new, microphone-infested U.S. Embassy office building in Moscow and rebuild it, a project that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Reagan made the decision based on the recommendations of Secretary of State George P. Shultz and an engineering study that said the only way to be sure the eight-story building is free of eavesdropping devices is to tear it down and start over.
“There’s no way to rid it of the many listening devices that have been built into it. So, we’re going to start and have an American-built one,” Reagan told reporters Thursday.
“We have to do it. We have no choice,” he added.
The building--nearly completed after more than 10 years of work at a cost of about $190 million--was constructed by Soviet laborers under U.S. supervision and largely used Soviet materials.
Lt. Gen. Colin L. Powell, Reagan’s national security adviser, said the decision to raze the building and start fresh also was supported by CIA Director William H. Webster.
Acknowledging the project will be costly, Powell said, “It’s not like building a tract home. . . . We don’t know how expensive yet.”