Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, in a session with nine visiting US senators, has called on the United States to join in a moratorium on antisatellite weapons in space and then ban them altogether.
The proposal came ahead of US plans to test an aircraft-fired antisatellite projectile and thus close what it says is a Soviet head start in this area. Western diplomats said the proposal was likely to be viewed skeptically in Washington, Monitor correspondent Ned Temko reports.
Mr. Andropov declared Moscow was immediately imposing a unilateral moratorium on such weapons ''for the entire period during which other states, including the USA, refrains from stationing in outer space antisatellite weapons of any type.'' Western intelligence reports, denied here, say Moscow has already tested successfully a ''hunter-killer satellite'' that destroys a space target by hurling metal fragments in its path.
The Soviet leader also proposed a negotiated ban on all antisatellite arms - an idea so far rejected by the Americans, partly because Moscow classes the US space shuttle as a military vehicle. The US senators, all Democrats, said Mr. Andropov made no mention of the shuttle in their nearly two-hour encounter.
He was also said to have shown no signs of the ill health that apparently forced a day's delay in recent talks here with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.