BRUSSELS — The United States asserted Friday that the Soviet Union had not reduced its force of 441 nuclear-armed SS-20 missiles, despite pledges to dismantle part of the arsenal.
The U.S. statement set the stage for the Dutch government to approve deployment in the Netherlands of 48 U.S. cruise missiles under a North Atlantic Treaty Organization plan. The Dutch government has said it will accept the nuclear missiles if the number of SS-20s exceeds 378 as of Nov. 1.
Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers said at a news conference in The Hague before the U.S. statement that his government is "very seriously taking into account that we'll have to decide in favor of deployment."
In a move seen as aimed at influencing the Dutch, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev said in Paris earlier this month that the Soviet Union was reducing to 243 the number of SS-20s on standby alert aimed at Western Europe and would dismantle some missile launchers.
Gorbachev did not say how many SS-20s were in place in the eastern Soviet Union.
H. Allen Holmes, director of political and military affairs at the State Department, told a news conference in Brussels that U.S. intelligence agencies had detected no signs that SS-20 launchers were being dismantled.
"We still count 441 launchers and we have no evidence of destruction or dismantlement of SS-20 launchers,' Holmes said. "We haven't seen any reductions."
Holmes spoke with reporters after meeting with senior nuclear policy officials from the NATO nations to review intelligence data on the Soviet nuclear arsenal and to discuss the U.S.-Soviet arms control talks.
Holmes declined to say how the 441 total was divided between the eastern and western parts of the Soviet Union.
SS-20s in the eastern region cannot reach Western Europe, but the United States and NATO say this does not matter because the missiles are on mobile launchers and can be moved to within striking distance of the West.
Holmes also said that since NATO's last review in September there was no evidence that the Soviets had begun construction of new bases for SS-20 missile launchers. He declined to say, however, whether work was continuing on any new bases already under way in September.