MOSCOW — Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev today proposed a sweeping arms-control plan to eliminate all nuclear weapons by the year 2000, and he extended the Soviet unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing for three months.
The statement, issued on the eve of the fourth round of Geneva arms-control talks between the Soviet Union and the United States, made the reduction of nuclear arms contingent on renunciation by both sides of development of space weapons.
Gorbachev's statement was read by an announcer at the beginning of the nightly television news program.
"The Soviet Union is proposing a step-by-step and consistent process of ridding the Earth of nuclear weapons, to be implemented and completed within the next 15 years, before the end of this century," Gorbachev said.
He said the first stage of the plan is for each side to reduce by half the nuclear arms that can reach each other's territory, a stage that would occur within the next five to eight years.
But the statement said that "such a reduction is possible only if the Soviet Union and the United States mutually renounce the development, testing and deployment of space strike weapons." It was a reference to the United States' plan to study a space-based defense system, the Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as "Star Wars."
The first stage of the Soviet plan would involve "the complete elimination of intermediate-range missiles of the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. in the European zone, both ballistic and cruise missiles," Gorbachev said.
"At the second stage, which should start no later than 1990 and last for five to seven years, the other nuclear powers will begin to engage in nuclear disarmament," the Soviet leader said. "They would pledge to freeze all their nuclear arms and not to have them in the territories of other countries."
Reference to European Forces
The reference apparently was to the independent nuclear forces of France and Britain.
Gorbachev said that after the superpowers have reduced their "relevant arms" by 50%, all nuclear powers would be called on to eliminate their tactical nuclear arms.
The third stage, to begin no later than 1995, Gorbachev said, calls for elimination of all remaining nuclear weapons on Earth and a universal agreement not to bring them into being again.
The official Tass press agency carried portions of Gorbachev's statement shortly after the television announcement began, including the three-month test ban extension. The unilateral ban on testing was announced by the Kremlin in August and it expired Jan. 1.
Linked to U.S. Tests
"Such a moratorium will remain in effect even further if the United States for its part also stops nuclear tests," Gorbachev said.
Gorbachev had previously warned that he would allow the ban to expire unless the United States joined the moratorium by Jan. 1. But President Reagan refused to join in the moratorium.
Gorbachev's statement repeated the Kremlin's insistence that weapons be kept out of space. "We are against weapons in space," he said. "Our material and intellectual capabilities make it possible for the Soviet Union to develop any weapon if we are compelled to do this. But we are fully aware of our responsibility to the present and future generations."