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Orbiting Soviet Cosmonauts Chide U.S. on Nuclear Tests

April 08, 1986|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — Two Soviet cosmonauts, following the party-line in outer space, chided the United States on Monday for continuing nuclear tests.

The two men, Leonid Kizim and Vladimir Solovyev, were questioned from a mission control center near Moscow by Soviet and foreign journalists as they orbited the Earth in a spaceship named Mir--the Russian word for peace.

"The name given our (space) station is not accidental," Kizim said. "As cosmonauts, we understand peace as space without arms."

The comment was an indirect rebuke to the United States for its proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, a space-based missile defense system known as "Star Wars."

Asked his opinion about recent American nuclear tests, Solovyev replied: "We believe that nuclear explosions at test sites do not contribute to better understanding among peoples. . . . We believe that they do not lead to better relations, and we believe these tests should be stopped."

Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev recently proposed a European summit with President Reagan devoted only to the nuclear testing issue. Reagan refused, saying that a summit conference must consider a broad variety of issues.

First Orbital Flight

The interview, marred by technical problems that sometimes made it difficult to understand the cosmonauts' answers, was geared to the coming 25th anniversary of man's first orbital flight, by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, on April 12, 1961.

Kizim said that Mir, envisioned as the hub of the world's first permanent space station, would be "functioning for a long time," but he gave no details.

The cosmonauts, who were launched into orbit three weeks ago, were not asked how long they will remain aloft. Soviet officials indicated, however, that they will return to Earth in about six months.

Asked about Western reports that there were military benefits from Soviet space research, Kizim said none of the experiments planned aboard Mir are for military purposes.

In a Moscow news conference, Soviet officials said the Salyut 7, another Soviet space station now in orbit, could not be linked up with Mir.

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