When the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty was signed in 1991 by Michael Gorbachev and George Bush, Demetri had a train conductor shunt three flat cars back into a cave which had been used to hide missiles from U.S. satellites. The bribe for the conductor was ten gold coins, about $2500 at the time.
The two ICBMs still had their solid-state fuel on board plus additional stand-by fuel scavenged from other SS-25's that had simply rusted out. The modified units had their original rocket nozzles and motor cases, as well as interstage skirts. The self-contained dispensing mechanism for single reentry vehicles was in place. In this instance, there would be only a single atomic weapon in each missile.
Both PhDs spent one week end each month doing routine maintenance on the SS-25. The hydraulic leveling device had taken work. The old diesel powered engines were run for 30 minutes every two weeks on the off-road unhardened transport-erector-launcher vehicles called TELs. The problem was finding diesel fuel to run the big engines. The erector-launcher mechanism could not be fully tested since the missile itself was 68 feet high, taller than the height of the cave where they were hidden. The scientists were certain the two mobile launched SS-25 Sickle would perform to 99% of their initial specifications.
"How do we proceed?" Vassely asked his friend.
"I'm going to drive to the train station in Kiev, use a public phone and try to set up an appointment with an attaché in the Iranian Embassy."
"You know we have resisted doing business with the Iranians. Why not the Iraqis or the Saudis?"
"Rumor has it the Iraqis are not concentrating on nuclear. Their efforts are on chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction because they are cheaper to build. You and I have no expertise in that area. The Saudis are an unknown entity to me. While publically supporting the United States, there is hostility in the desert kingdom toward the regime in power and toward the U.S."
"What about the possibility of wire taps," Raika asked.
"I'll make the call and quickly leave the area. What are you going to do?"
"Borrow the van from the Institute and go out to the cave. 'Borrow' some diesel fuel from the Institute, turn up the heat in the cave, re-install the batteries in the missile movers, start the big diesels, and bring them up to operating temperature. Check the weapon systems. Then do a compete check of the mobile launch mover, the leveling system, the erector system, the electronics and finally look at everything again."
"Be sure you hide the van in the woods in case we have prospective customers," Demetri reminded his friend.
"What about the asking price? Have you changed your mind?" Raika asked.
"No Raika, I haven't changed my mind," Demetri replied, "The price will be $4.5 million American dollars, half when we reach a port like Char Bahar in Iran, the other when we successfully complete the training launch."
"That seems high to me," Raika said as he expressed concern. "Why would the Iranians pay such a price?"
Demetri stopped for a minute to organize his thoughts. "Raika, the Iranians have adapted a short-range No Dong missile of North Korean manufacture, which is a variant of the Soviet Scud. The Iranians have had all sorts of engine problems with it. While they understand the theory of missile manufacture, they lack the infrastructure to produce the steel, aluminum and composite materials. Iran has little of these materials or the capacity to produce them. They want reliable, long-range ICBMs for their delivery system. The nukes on board will be a bonus. That is why they will pay our price," Demetri asserted.
Raika, who accepted his friend's explanation, wanted to be certain they were in agreement. "Demetri, how do we break down that price, if I am asked."
"Four million for the two missiles and warheads plus the training unit and $500,000 in a cash advance for bribes and transport from Kiev to Odessa to the Iranian port. That amount will translate into 1,667 Troy ounces of gold at today's Zurich price of $300 per ounce. We'll move the three missiles on their TELs by ship through the Bosporus, sail down the Dardanelle into the Mediterranean. The route will take us southeast through the Suez Canal, south down the Red Sea, east in the Arabian Sea, and northeast up the Persian Gulf. The Iranian port could be Char Badar or their choice."
"How much will the bribes to all concerned cost us?" Vassely asked.
"Maybe not as much as you think. Destitute people may not be as greedy," Dimetri answered after some thought.
The discussion between the two scientists continued with each subject reviewed in depth. How to safeguard Demetri's wife Lara and son Peter, how to escape from the deserted airfield in Western Iran after demonstrating the accuracy of the Russian ICBM system 30 years after it was built, how to be certain that one-half of the funds were transferred to a Swiss Bank in Lusanne at the arrival of the ICBMs in Char Badar.