Perestroika notwithstanding, Soviet membership in world financial institutions will have to wait another year. The White House and the Treasury Department both reaffirmed their opposition to letting the Soviet Union join the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, a treaty that sets ground rules on world trade.
A US Treasury official stated that ``contrary to press reports, the administration policy of opposing Soviet membership in international financial organizations remains unchanged.''
The New York Times reported yesterday that President Reagan, in his annual assessment of national-security strategy, had opened the door for such membership. The assessment, required by Congress and released yesterday, contained substantially different language from last year's report, the Times said.
In a side-by-side comparison of the two documents, this year's assessment fails to couple economic cooperation with the Helsinki accord on human rights.
This year's report, however, is quite clear in opposing Soviet membership in world financial organizations. It says: ``While we note recent Soviet policy statements regarding `reconstruction' and economic performance, the Soviet economic system remains at this point fundamentally incompatible with participation in free-world institutions. Policy statements must be translated into positive actions before such participation can be considered.''
Conservatives, however, even argue with this language. ``When you look at the Treasury secretary's unqualified opposition and look at last year's language, there is a difference in policy tone,'' says Roger Robinson, a former senior director at the National Security Council now president of RWR Inc., a Washington consultant on East-West relations.
Last year, Treasury Secretary James Baker III wrote Rep. Jack Kemp (R) of New York and stated his unqualified opposition to Soviet membership in financial organizations. Yesterday, Kemp aide Raul Fernandez said the conservative congressman was drafting a letter to the White House asking why reference to the Helsinki accord was deleted this year.
One reason US officials are opposed to such membership is the risk of Soviet ``politicizing'' of the organizations. This objection is not in this year's report.