MOSCOW — Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze accused the United States today of trying to "erode the ground reached in Reykjavik." He demanded anew that a superpower arms accord include a ban on space weapons.
Shevardnadze characterized his meetings last week with Secretary of State George P. Shultz as a "retreat to the pre-Reykjavik position" in U.S.-Soviet relations, adding, "It goes without saying that this is a step backward."
He spoke in Russian at a one hour, 50-minute news conference, his first in Moscow since becoming foreign minister in July, 1985. The Foreign Ministry conference hall was packed.
Agreement in Iceland
Shevardnadze said that Mikhail S. Gorbachev and President Reagan agreed during their Oct. 11-12 Iceland summit to steps that would eliminate medium-range missiles from Europe within five years and all strategic nuclear weapons within a decade.
But he said Shultz outlined a revised and watered-down version of the agreements in principle reached by the two leaders.
"What they offered to us in Vienna can be compared to a political theater of the absurd," Shevardnadze said.
"We had set on the table before us an amazing assortment of papers which actually canceled everything achieved by the sides in Reykjavik."
Discord on Agreement
Since Reykjavik, the superpowers have disagreed on whether Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to eliminate all strategic nuclear missiles by the end of 1996.
The White House says Reagan agreed only to cut all strategic nuclear weapons by 50% in the next five years and to eliminate all ballistic missiles in the next decade.
This would leave some heavy bombers armed with cruise missiles, giving the United States what Moscow says is an advantage.
Shevardnadze also complained today that at Vienna, "Secretary Shultz preferred to delegate the main tasks to experts in his delegation, and that could be one of the reasons we were not able to have a more productive discussion with better results."
Further Meetings Possible
He did not rule out further meetings with Shultz to work toward an arms accord, but declined to speculate when the next talks could take place. "Life will show," he said.
Shevardnadze said he presented Shultz with a framework agreement that the two of them could have signed and passed on to arms negotiators in Geneva for working into the text of an arms control treaty.