NATO says nothing new in East's freeze-talk plan
NATO officials said Tuesday a Warsaw Pact proposal for talks to freeze and then cut military spending contained little new or significant. In Moscow, Western diplomats said the Warsaw Pact's spending freeze proposal appeared aimed largely at boosting the Soviet bloc's ''peace image.''
NATO officials said that, because the Soviet Union and its allies go to great lengths to conceal their true defense budgets and give the illusion of stagnant or falling arms spending, the proposal appears to be mostly propaganda. The Soviet-bloc statement said, in part: ''Growing military spending . . . is becoming an increasingly heavy burden for the peoples, regardless of the level of economic development of different countries, and is slowing down economic and social progress.''
NATO estimates Moscow spends about 15 percent of its gross national product on defense, more than double the amount allocated to the military by any Western country. The United States spends just under 7 percent of GNP and West Germany about 3 percent.