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Soviets Dispute Reagan's Iceland Position

October 26, 1986|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — Quoting from a Soviet record of the Reykjavik summit, a high Foreign Ministry official said Saturday that President Reagan had agreed to scrap all nuclear weapons by 1996 as the Kremlin said Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev had proposed.

The assertion was made at a news conference by Alexander A. Bessmertnykh, deputy foreign minister, who said he was quoting Reagan directly on the issue.

Gorbachev made a similar assertion in a television address Wednesday night, his third TV appearance in 10 days to discuss the outcome of Reykjavik. Gorbachev accused Washington of having distorted the results of Reykjavik, suggesting that Reagan either could not or would not control the "hawks" in his Administration who wanted to scuttle any chances for arms control.

Bessmertnykh said Saturday that at first, Reagan proposed to eliminate only ballistic missiles by the end of a 10-year period.

'If That's What You Want'

When Gorbachev told him that the Kremlin also advocates abolition of bombers with nuclear payloads and similar weapons, Bessmertnykh quoted Reagan as having said:

"Apparently we misunderstood you. But if that's what you want, all right."

As the talks continued, according to Bessmertnykh, the President led the Soviet delegation to believe he wanted to abolish all nuclear weapons, including bombs, battlefield weapons, medium-range and submarine-launched missiles.

Then he quoted Reagan as having told Gorbachev:

"If we are agreed then that at the end of the 10-year period, all nuclear weapons are to be eliminated, we can refer this agreement to our delegations at Geneva so that they can prepare a treaty you can sign when you visit the United States."

In Washington on Saturday, the White House denied Bessmertnykh's assertions.

'No Doubt as to the Proposal'

"There can be absolutely no doubt as to the proposal that we left on the table in Iceland," Dan Howard, deputy White House press spokesman said. "It was that the two sides would both destroy roughly one-half of all their nuclear weapons over a five-year period, reaching a level of 1,000 delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads on each side. In the succeeding five years, the two sides would destroy all remaining ballistic missiles.

"The idea of destruction of all nuclear weapons was discussed but was never formally tabled by the United States side," Howard continued. "The President's long-term goal is to do away with all nuclear weapons. However, many other adjustments must be made before we achieve this goal, including reduction of conventional forces in Europe."

Gorbachev had been expected to go to Washington this year under an accord reached at the first Reagan-Gorbachev summit meeting last November in Geneva. No date was ever set, however, and the possibility of such a meeting in 1986 became even more remote when the Reykjavik summit broke down over the future of the President's "Star Wars" plan for a space-based missile defense.

Bessmertnykh, a member of the Soviet delegation in Iceland, said that right-wing forces were trying to force the President to recant what he said at the summit.

Words in Reagan's Mouth

Efforts are under way in Washington "to put in the mouth of the President words he did not say and make him take back things he did say," the Soviet official said.

The Soviet statement appeared to be part of an intensive campaign, spearheaded by Gorbachev himself, to try to hold Reagan to agreements in principle that both sides say were discussed in Iceland.

Bessmertnykh, for example, praised Reagan for showing a "necessary sense of responsibility" by agreeing to abandon nuclear weapons by 1996.

Yet, he added, "Some people in Washington are now trying to step back from the positions that were agreed, . . . to drive things back into a blind alley, and also, whether they want to or not, cast a shadow on the President himself."

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