Soviets say summit proposals on SDI, arms form single package
Moscow — The Soviet arms control proposals presented at the Iceland superpower summit were a single indivisible package, a senior Soviet official said Thursday. In a clarification of his country's position, senior Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady Gerasimov ruled out the possibility of a separate agreement on medium-range nuclear weapons.
And he said no agreement would be signed until the issue of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, or ``star wars'') had been resolved to Moscow's satisfaction.
His comments were intended to dispel confusion caused by Soviet arms control negotiator Viktor Karpov, who was quoted Wednesday as saying that an agreement on medium-range missiles ``can be dealt with and agreed upon as a separate issue.''
That remark, made in Bonn, appeared to contradict statements made by Mikhail Gorbachev and other senior Soviet officials that the proposals had to be considered and accepted as a single package. The confusion was all the more strange because Mr. Karpov is head of a new arms control and disarmament department in the Foreign Ministry and is one of Moscow's most experienced arms control negotiators.
After repeated questions on the controversy, Gerasimov said that although President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev had agreed to the broad outlines of agreements in their meeting last weekend in Reykjavik, Iceland, many of the details still had to be defined. This work could be done by Soviet and United States arms control experts in Geneva and elsewhere, he added.
``This is, I think, what Karpov had in mind,'' Gerasimov said. Asked, however, to confirm that no agreement would be signed until there was an agreement on the full Icelandic package, Gerasimov replied: ``This is the case.''
Gerasimov several times referred to the ``whole package of important measures'' proposed in Iceland by Mr. Gorbachev. But some ambiguity about the durability of the package crept in when he chided journalists who, he felt, wanted to ``break up the package.''
``This will not happen for the time being,'' he said. ``For the time being, this package will not be broken up.''
In Reykjavik, Gorbachev expressed a willingness to conclude agreements on the elimination of medium-range missiles in Europe and strategic offensive weapons, making in the process what the Soviets describe as ``enormous concessions.'' In return, the Soviets called on the US to agree not to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty for a period of 10 years following the signature of the agreements. Mr. Reagan refused, saying this would compromise the development of SDI.
Gerasimov's explanations follow an editorial yesterday in the Communist Party daily Pravda, which also seemed intended to clear up confusion. The paper said that Moscow's demand on ``star wars'' was an ``organic'' part of its package, and asserted that the chances for an agreement in Reykjavik foundered because of a ``clash of two approaches to world politics.''
The US approach, Pravda said, was determined by a desire to ``obtain the unobtainable -- military superiority over the Soviet Union.''
Reuters reports from Bonn:
US chief arms negotiator Max Kampelman yesterday accused Moscow of sending ambiguous signals on arms control. Mr. Kampelman, in Bonn to brief West German leaders on the impact of the Reykjavik meeting on US-Soviet arms talks, said that through Karpov's remark Moscow had sown confusion over whether it was linking an accord on medium-range missiles to progress on SDI.
``This is par for the course,'' he said. Moscow had sent mixed signals on the linkage between medium-range missiles and space weapons in the past, he said. ``We are having now some kind of a repetition of a similar uncertainty and ambiguity until they get their act together,'' he added. He said he believed it could be some time before the Kremlin decided on a firm line and added that he hoped the Soviets would not back down from proposals discussed in Reykjavik.