A workable arms control proposal by Senator Hollings
It promises to be a long, and autumn for the United States and its NATO allies. The attack on Vice-President Bush's motorcade by antinuclear demonstrators in West Germany in mid-June manifests the opposition that will surely spread as the inability or unwillingness of the Reagan administration to reach a compromise accord with the Soviets on the installation of 572 Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) becomes more evident. Months away from the December deployment date, equipment and personnel for the launching sites have already been sent to bases in Europe. As West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has said, ''Unless there is a miracle (at the Geneva arms talks), and I don't see one happening, we will have to deploy the missiles and we intend to do so.''Skip to next paragraph
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A miracle is not needed; a meaningful, workable first-step accord leading to further reductions is, however.
The recent proposal by Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina is such an agreement. As Senator Hollings stated in San Francisco: ''What is needed is not more posturing or publicity-seeking for zero options which have zero chance of success. What is needed is a realistic interim agreement which will pave the way for further reductions.''
When the Soviets started in 1977 furiously deploying their mobile SS-20 intermediate-range missiles aimed straight at the heart of West European cities, a clamor arose in the NATO countries for a response. It was decided that the only way the US could get Moscow to back down from this unprovoked threat was to schedule the installation of United States intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs). Hence was born the Pershing II/ground-launched cruise missile deployment scheme.
But NATO countries agreed to this plan contingent on a serious effort by US negotiators to get the Soviets to bargain away their SS-20s. Now, after two years of the Reagan administration, they are deeply concerned that this US government is more interested in public relations than serious arms control. They are concerned that the Reagan administration will refuse to put forward a realistic negotiating proposal that could lead to a stable and equitable solution.
Fortunately, a US senator has now taken up the challenge abdicated by the current administration with an intelligent, well-thought-out plan of his own. The proposal put forth by Senator Hollings calls for the US to deploy only 58 of the planned 108 Pershing II missiles and launchers in West Germany; to deploy only 164 of 464 GLCMs and 68 of 116 GLCM launchers in Great Britain and Sicily, canceling GLCM deployment in West Germany, Holland, and Belgium; and to withdraw one squadron of F-111 attack planes from Great Britain.
In return, the Soviet Union would be required to reduce the number of SS-20 missiles and launchers from 300 to 125; the number of SS-20 warheads from 900 to 375; and the aggregate number of SS-4 and SS-5 warheads, missiles, and launchers each from 280 to 130. These weapons would have to be dismantled, so as not to allow them to be transferred to other theaters.
The reduction of GLCMs greater than the reduction in GLCM launchers introduces the new concept of Excess Launcher Capacity (ELC) into the arms control vocabulary. ELC means deploying fewer missiles than the launchers have the capacity to fire, thereby reducing the first-strike threat to the Soviet Union, lowering the number of missiles and warheads to be actually deployed in Europe, but allowing the US a ready-made escape clause to easily increase missile deployment in case of Soviet treaty violation.