ARMS CONTROL AND `STAR WARS'. Soviet hopes for arms accord appear to dim

Mikhail Gorbachev seemed to indicate yesterday that Moscow's hopes for an arms control agreement with the Reagan administration are fast receding. Instead of the new arms control proposals predicted by Western officials, he offered a restatement of his policies and a summary of his political philosophy.

The Soviet leader's low-key speech, delivered to the final session of an international forum ``for a nonnuclear world, for the survival of mankind'' was harsh in its criticism of the Reagan administration.

Mr. Gorbachev attacked Washington's insistence on a ``broad interpretation'' of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty which would allow the development and testing of components of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, or ``star wars'').

The Soviet leader told the forum that the United States delegation to the Geneva arms talks had already officially suggested legitimizing this interpretation of the treaty, which was originally put forward by Washington in October 1985.

By opting for the broad definition, he continued, the Reagan administration was ``scorning'' the US-Soviet pledge, made at the 1985 Geneva summit, to prevent an arms race in space and end the race on earth.

He called for an international law to ban deployment of weaponry in space. He also said once again that the Soviet pursuit of an arms control agreement would not be allowed to lead to a weakening of its military strength in relation to the US.

In any eventual arms control agreement, Gorbachev said, Moscow would want access to US overseas bases to check that they are observing the treaty.

But he sounded considerably less optimistic than he has been in the past about the chances of an early arms control agreement. The new thinking - Moscow's term for the reassessment of policies currently taking place here - is having difficulty breaking through into international affairs, he said.

The tone of the speech was similar to an interview given last week to the Soviet newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda by Viktor Karpov, one of Moscow's leading arms control specialists.

In the article, Mr. Karpov warned that early US deployment of SDI would be ``an invitation to a new phase of the arms race.'' He emphasized clarification of the existing US and Soviet arms proposals rather than new offers. And he made it clear that the Soviet package of proposals put forward last year in Reykjavik, Iceland - offering deep cuts in nuclear weapons in exchange for limitations on SDI - remained indivisible.

In his speech yesterday, Gorbachev ignored the call by an earlier speaker, West German Social Democrat Egon Bahr, that the package be split up.

The forum that Gorbachev addressed brought together more than 1,000 participants - writers, scientists, actors, businessmen, ecologists, and academics - from all over the world.

One of its main organizers was Yevgeny Velikhov, a senior adviser to Gorbachev on science and disarmament. Western participants included John Kenneth Galbraith, Gregory Peck, Graham Greene, Norman Mailer, and Gore Vidal. (Despite a former feud, the last two were sitting together, apparently amicably, in the Kremlin's Great Hall).

The star of the show, however, was dissident physicist Andrei Sakharov. Before Gorbachev spoke, forum participants crowded around Dr. Sakharov's seat, seeking his autograph. They ignored his near neighbor, singer Yoko Ono.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to ARMS CONTROL AND `STAR WARS'. Soviet hopes for arms accord appear to dim
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today