Nonnuclear nations urge superpowers to control nuclear arms
Geneva — The United States and the Soviet Union were showered with volleys of criticisms and ideas for reform here as third-world and nonaligned states urged them to: Reconsider a proposal to launch international space satellites to verify nuclear-arms control.
Adopt an Egyptian idea to set up a special fund to finance peaceful uses of nuclear power in developing countries.
Provide more nuclear technology to the third world, not only to generate electrical power but for developing techniques to increase crop yields and reduce livestock diseases.
Give security guarantees to unstable third-world regions.
Move much more quickly to curb the nuclear arms race with a comprehensive test-ban treaty, a nuclear freeze, or some other policy.
The volleys came at a three-day conference on nonproliferation here, which also saw President Reagan's ``star wars'' nuclear-defense shield sharply criticized by the keynote speaker, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.
The various proposals have been heard before. Neither the US nor the Soviet Union seems about to adopt any of them. But they are being restated here to express third-world unhappiness on the eve of a major review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968.
The review, only the third since the treaty came into effect in 1970, begins Aug. 27 and is to run four weeks. The previous review, in 1980, broke up in disagreement because nonnuclear states believe the NPT is biased in favor of the nuclear club.
The NPT expires in 1995. The current conference, convened by the Bellerive Foundation of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, rang with third-world and non-aligned warnings that the superpowers need to curb their nuclear arms race if they expect the NPT to be extended.
The US and the Soviet Union have so far regarded third-world complaints as less important than their rivalry with each other. None of the 128 signers of the NPT show immediate signs of withdrawing, though some third-world sources say that time could come.
The Reagan administration, faced with a huge budget deficit, is not in favor of any new fund for third-world nuclear technology, sources here report. Nor does it support international verification satellites, which, sources say, would be extremely expensive. ``You'd need several of the satellites to cover all the US and the USSR,'' says one US source familiar with the idea. ``The idea is sound enough, but the cost is prohibitive.''
Both superpowers remain in favor of a comprehensive nuclear-test ban in theory. In fact, they have only just resumed Geneva missile talks, and underground testing continues unabated.
Washington and Moscow, who had representatives at the conference, both want to stop the spread of the nuclear bomb to other countries. However, third-world speakers, including disarmament ambassador Jiadong Quian, Egypt's deputy ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Shaker, and the Sri Lankan ambassador to Geneva, Jayantha Dhanapala, stressed that the superpowers could not achieve their goal unless they stopped their own ``proliferation'' of nuclear arms stockpiles.
Mr. Palme repeated his frequent calls for a freeze on developing, producing, and deploying nuclear weapons.
He also insisted that Swedish scientists had proved that a comprehensive test ban outlawing underground explosions can indeed be verified.
His own list of ideas for the superpowers included ``effective'' guarantees that nuclear states will not attack others with nuclear weapons, a 900-foot-wide nuclear-free ``corridor'' in central Europe, and setting up nuclear-free zones.