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News In Brief

By Gary Thatcher / June 12, 1985



Moscow

The Kremlin is charging that the United States is ``undermining'' the treaties that prevent an all-out nuclear arms race. The claim was part of a sharp reaction to President Reagan's qualified decision to continue adhering to SALT II. It came in an official statement by Tass, the Soviet news agency, that bore the unmistakable imprimatur of the ruling Communist Party Politburo. It was also read at a hastily arranged press conference by Kremlin spokesman Vladimir Lomeiko, underscoring the importance that the Soviet leadership attached to it.

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On Monday, Mr. Reagan called for ``mutual restraint'' by both superpowers while new arms accords were negotiated. His call was relayed to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in a letter delivered here Monday.

The Kremlin waited just one day before questioning the President's motives.

``It is a dangerous misapprehension,'' the statement warned, to be ``deluded'' into believing that the Kremlin will allow the US to determine which treaty obligations to observe and which to abandon.

At the same time, the Kremlin denied that it was violating SALT II -- as the Reagan administration has claimed. Moscow was reacting to Reagan's announcement Monday that he will order the dismantling of a Poseidon submarine, along with its nuclear missiles, to avoid going over the 1,200-missile limit imposed by SALT II.

The treaty has never been ratified by the US, but both countries have agreed to abide by it. Reagan, however, repeated charges that the Soviets are violating the agreement. Specifically, he cited the development of the SS-X-25 mobile missile, which he said was not allowed under the treaty. But Tass claimed that the missile is merely a modernized version of the old SS-13 missile, a move that Moscow says is permitted under the treaty.

Moreover, the statement alleged that the US is itself preparing to violate the treaty by deploying MX and Midgetman missiles.

That would be only the latest step down a ``long trail'' of treaty violations, the statement charged, including the deployment of new US missiles in Europe and research into space-based weapons systems.

Journalists on defunct papers in S. Africa to issue a weekly

Six South African journalists from newspapers closed in April will band together to produce a new weekly paper, a member of the new paper's editorial board, Anton Harber, said Tuesday. Mr. Harber, former political reporter of the Rand Daily Mail, said that the first issue of the Weekly Mail would appear Friday and that it would aim to fill a gap left by the demise of the Rand Daily Mail, considered the leading anti-apartheid voice in the country.

US and 2 East-bloc countries conduct prisoner exchange

The US freed four Eastern Europeans charged with espionage in exchange for 25 Eastern Europeans held prisoner in East Germany and Poland, a US spokesman said Tuesday. US officials in Washington said the four Eastern Europeans they released had been held on espionage charges. They did not say what offenses had caused the imprisonment in East Germany and Poland of the 25 other Eastern European nationals. No American citizens were involved in the prisoner exchange.

Court to reconsider ruling that reinstated Mobil libel

In a case that may alter longstanding libel standards for the news media, the US Court of Appeals agreed to reconsider a lower-court jury ruling that the Washington Post libeled former Mobil Oil Corporation president William P. Tavoulareas. The case concerns a 1979 Post article about his business dealings. In taking the case, the appeals court vacated almost all of the April findings of a three-member panel, which had reinstated a jury libel award against the Post, an award that was reversed by a trial court judge as excessive.