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London Institute Cites Soviet Support for Terror

May 14, 1986|From Reuters

LONDON — Considerable evidence has emerged to suggest that the Soviet Union actively supports world terrorist organizations as a matter of policy, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported today.

The institute, a highly regarded London-based think tank, said it is notable that President Reagan, whose Administration has accused both Libya and Syria of sponsoring terrorism, has made only passing reference to a Soviet role.

In its Strategic Survey for 1985-86, the institute described terrorism as a growth industry that took nearly 1,000 civilian lives last year.

"A very large body of evidence, drawn from confessions, police investigations and captured documents (not to mention captured weapons), leaves little doubt about the U.S.S.R.'s active support to organizations which practice terrorism . . . ," the report said.

It went on to say that the vulnerability of modern advanced societies to chemical, biological or even nuclear terrorist attacks makes it vital that terrorism be curtailed. It said the only way to do this is through international cooperation aimed at locating, arresting and extraditing offenders.

U.S.-Soviet Ties Assessed

Reviewing developments in superpower relations, the report said that Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev are both trying to score cheap propaganda points by putting forward unrealistic arms control proposals.

Referring to the stated goal of both leaders to eliminate nuclear weapons, it said, "They merit the criticism of informed observers for peddling humbug to a gullible and hopeful public."

The institute said that while last November's Geneva summit meeting temporarily relieved superpower tensions, it is unlikely to produce a real and long-lasting thaw in East-West relations.

The two sides are so far apart on arms control issues that it is difficult to imagine an agreement emerging, it added, noting that continuing disagreement over the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") threatens to bring about a new and unrestrained arms race in space.

The institute said that the concept of space as a zone free of military activity has been invalid for years. The superpowers should now urgently begin to negotiate defined limitations on such activity, it urged.

Among other developments, the institute:

--Pinpointed Egypt as a potential victim of internal conflict and instability because of "economic distress, resurgent Islamic fundamentalism and indiscipline within the forces of law and order."

--Forecast new opportunities in South Africa, where outside powers are seeking greater influence over events, an apparent reference to the emerging Commonwealth peace initiative designed to defuse racial violence.

--Predicted continued conflict in the Philippines between the government and Marxist guerrillas. The United States could eventually be drawn into a more active role, it said.

--Warned that in Nicaragua, the possibility of the Sandinista government's being overthrown or forced to negotiate with U.S.-backed contras seems slim.

--Said that El Salvador appears condemned to continued war, with neither the government nor the rebels able to achieve a decisive breakthrough.

It warned that the trend toward democracy in Latin America could easily be reversed without a fair agreement with international lenders on the region's huge debt.

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