West Germany takes Soviet talk of new missiles in stride
Bonn — So far the Soviet stationing of new nuclear missiles in Eastern Europe that was announced Oct. 24 is meeting with a shrug in West Germany. The Bonn government says there is nothing new in the first public mention of Soviet Defense Ministry plans. And West Germany's silent majority apparently views the threat of new Soviet missiles more as a justification of NATO's own imminent missile deployments than as an incentive to join the antinuclear protest against NATO missiles.
This lack of response by Moscow's intended audience - West Germany is the NATO state that would be most directly threatened by new short-range Soviet missiles in East Germany and Czechoslovakia - suggests the present Soviet dilemma. Moscow must be pacific enough to reassure the West German peace movement - but threatening enough to keep up pressure against the planned new NATO Euromissile deployment.
NATO plans to deploy 41 single-warhead US Pershing II and cruise missiles in West Germany, Britain, and Italy this December and some 500 more over the next five years in response to the 360 three-warhead SS-20s the Soviet Union has deployed since 1977.
Moscow expects publicity about its own deployments to reinforce West European peace protesters' fear of a nuclear holocaust as the arms spiral whirls higher. But the publicity hardly attracts new Western converts to the antinuclear cause, since it reinforces West German suspicion of Soviet willingness to coerce its neighbors.
Bonn is conspicuously unimpressed by the latest Soviet announcement that ''preparatory work is being started'' in East Germany and Czechoslovakia for the ''deployment of missile complexes.''
The West Germans say the Soviet deployments began last year and are thus not - as advertised in Moscow - retaliation for the forthcoming NATO deploy-ments. Bonn has repeated its commitment to that NATO stationing if no East-West arms control agreement is reached in the next month.
West German Defense Ministry spokesmen say eight Soviet SS-21s are already in place in East Germany in accordance with ongoing Warsaw Pact modernization. The SS-21s will replace the FROG-7s, which have been deployed in East Germany for more than a decade but have never been publicly acknowledged by the Soviet Union.
The other short-range Soviet nuclear missile identified as already stationed in East Europe is the Scud, which is to be replaced by the Soviet SS-23.
Some of the short-range missiles in East Europe are said to be manned by East German, Polish, and Czechoslovak troops, but the nuclear warheads themselves - their presence has been attested to in the past year by West German, British, and US officials or ex-officials - are said to be under the command and control of Soviet forces.
So far the West Germans have detected no acceleration in the ongoing Warsaw Pact nuclear modernization as a response to NATO deployment plans.
A footnote to the unprecedented Soviet publicity being given to Soviet nuclear missiles in East Germany and Czechoslovakia is the unusual publication of an objection to them in the East German Communist Party newspaper Neues Deutschland. Last weekend the paper carried two letters from Lutheran groups in East and West Germany opposing not only new Western missile deployments but also new Warsaw Pact deployments.