Reagan Urges Speedup in Chemical Arms Talks

June 13, 1986|From Reuters

GENEVA — President Reagan on Thursday called for speedier negotiations toward a worldwide ban on chemical weapons in a message to the 40-nation disarmament conference.

In his message, read by chief delegate Donald Lowitz, Reagan expressed his conviction that the conference is fully capable of achieving a treaty outlawing chemical arms.

Reagan said the United States "stands ready to intensify even further these negotiations" for a ban and called on conference members to follow suit.

Lowitz later told reporters he "totally disagreed" with the Soviet view that U.S. plans to resume production of chemical weapons would jeopardize the negotiations for a treaty.

U.S. Move Criticized

Chief Soviet delegate Viktor L. Issraelyan warned Tuesday--when the conference resumed--that the U.S. program to start a new generation of binary chemical weapons and a North Atlantic Treaty Organization decision to back it would "seriously damage" the talks.

"For 17 years, we have not produced any chemical weapons and we have an aging stockpile," Lowitz told a news conference, adding that the United States intends "to have a deterrent which will act as an incentive for (the Soviet Union) to negotiate seriously."

"During those 17 years, the Soviet Union has continued to produce great quantities of chemical weapons, and they enjoy a significant advantage."

According to Western estimates, the Soviet Union has 200,000 to 500,000 tons of modern chemical arms.

Lowitz said that once an agreement banning chemical arms is reached, "then whatever stockpiles we have will be subject to that agreement," but he said the United States needs "to protect itself until an agreement is reached."

Lowitz insisted that the U.S. "main goal was, is and remains . . . the conclusion of a chemical weapons ban that will preclude stockpiling, production and use" of such weapons. He said there was nothing inconsistent with that goal in U.S. plans for modernization of chemical arms in 1987.

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