Iceland arms offers are still high on Soviet agenda
Despite constant complaints that the White House has been tampering with the record of this month's Iceland summit, Moscow will probably try to revive discussions on its Reykjavik disarmament package when the United States and Soviet foreign ministers meet in Vienna next week. Washington's motive for ``distorting'' the Reykjavik record, the Soviets say, is clear: Under the guise of nuclear disarmament, the US wants to regain military superiority over the Soviet Union.
Moscow's concern over the alleged distortions is shown by the active steps taken to counter the US claims. These have included a press conference in which a deputy foreign minister read what he said were verbatim quotations of President Reagan from the Iceland meeting. This was amplified by a series of articles in the Communist Party daily Pravda by an official writing under the pseudonym of ``K. Georgiev.'' Pravda refused to divulge the author's real name, but said the articles could be considered authoritative. The construction of the pseudonym suggests that the writer is Georgi Kornienko, senior deputy to Communist Party Secretariat member Anatoly Dobrynin. The latter is Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's principal American specialist.
Below is a brief summary of the Soviet position:
The package: Essentially Mr. Gorbachev offered a comprehensive agreement on strategic nuclear weapons and medium-range weapons in return for a commitment by the US to limit testing and development of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). The Soviets say their package involved ``enormous'' concessions on their part. More dispassionate observers say that some of the proposals were a sharp departure from Moscow's old positions. Washington finds some parts of the package attractive, but rejects others. Moscow says the package is indissoluble: The US must accept everything or nothing.
SDI: Both sides agree that SDI, otherwise known as ``star wars,'' was the main sticking point in the Reykjavik discussions. They agree on little else. The Soviets want the US not to test star-wars components outside of a laboratory for a period of 10 years. They claim that any other testing is in fact prohibited by the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.
The US believes that the ABM Treaty allows it to test certain SDI components in space, a senior Western diplomat said recently. Soviet spokesmen have on several occasions recently said that testing would not have to be limited to the four walls of a laboratory but, they stress, components should not be tested in space.
Strategic weapons: another point of major disagreement. Essentially the Soviets say they proposed -- and Reagan accepted -- the idea of eliminating all nuclear weapons in two installments over the next 10 years. Washington says that the Soviets are wrong: Reagan was talking only of ballistic missiles.
The difference is enormous. Washington's reading of the talks would leave nuclear submarines, strategic bombers, and cruise missiles intact. This, the Soviets claim, would give the US a dramatic military advantage over the Soviet Union. (That, they sometimes say, is what the US really wants). US officials retort that if all forms of nuclear weapons were eliminated, the Soviets would have the advantage -- the conventional, nonnuclear forces of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations far outnumber those of their NATO counterparts. To Moscow's chagrin, a number of West European governments seem to share this belief.
Medium-range missiles: Both sides have agreed to reduce the number of missile warheads to 100 each. The Soviets would undertake to deploy their warheads -- about 33 missiles in all -- in the Asian part of the Soviet Union, somewhere between the Ural mountains and the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. The US would deploy its missiles in the United States, probably in Alaska. This would effectively remove all medium-range missiles from Europe. The new location of the Soviet missiles, out of range of Japan and parts of China, would lessen Asian concerns that Europe's gain was their loss.