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50% Cut in Strategic Missiles Over 7 Years Proposed by U.S.

May 09, 1987|From Times Wire Services

GENEVA — The United States on Friday presented a draft treaty calling for 50% cuts in long-range missiles over a seven-year period and said it feels that an accord could be negotiated with the Soviet Union before the end of the year.

Ronald F. Lehman, who leads the U.S. team negotiating on such arms, told reporters the 40-page draft had substantial sections for verifying against cheating, including the right to quick on-site inspection for any suspected violation.

The American team submitted the draft during a special meeting with Soviet negotiators at the Soviet diplomatic mission in Geneva.

"It provides a solid basis for the creation of a fair and durable agreement," President Reagan said in a statement in Washington.

But Reagan insisted that Washington would not accept any treaty restriction on "Star Wars," the Strategic Defense Initiative.

'SDI Program Is Vital'

"In view of the continuing Soviet offensive buildup, combined with the long-standing Soviet activities in strategic defense, the SDI program is vital to the future security of the U.S. and our allies," he said.

It was the first draft treaty on long-range, or strategic, nuclear forces presented by either side since the superpower arms control effort resumed in March, 1985.

Lehman said the treaty built on agreements in principle reached between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev at their summit in Iceland last October.

They agreed to cut warheads on long-range forces to 6,000 on each side and to limit the number of vehicles that could carry the warheads to 1,600.

The superpowers have about 10,500 warheads each on strategic arms, including submarine- and land-based missiles, air-launched cruise missiles and nuclear-armed bombers.

Lehman said the U.S. draft set "sub-limits" on how many warheads could be fixed on an single type of launcher. This was aimed at stopping Moscow from assigning all its warheads to its powerful land-based SS-18 ballistic missiles.

"If we don't get a handle on the problem of these fast-flying, threatening ballistic missile warheads, then the reductions may not be safe," Lehman said.

Soviet negotiators have rejected the idea of sub-limits and the issue has become an obstacle in the talks on long-range nuclear arsenals.

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