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Soviets See New U.S. Chemical Arms as Threat

October 06, 1987|From Times Wire Services

MOSCOW — A Soviet official said Monday that U.S. plans to produce a new type of chemical weapon could "torpedo" negotiations in Geneva on a chemical arms ban.

Col. Gen. Vladimir K. Pikalov, commander of the Soviet Union's chemical warfare forces, told a Moscow news conference that the United States is "starting a new spiral in the arms race" with plans to produce binary weapons.

"The U.S. binary program creates serious obstacles if it does not torpedo altogether the (Geneva) negotiations," he said.

The Reagan Administration won congressional approval to begin on Dec. 1 to manufacture a limited number of binary munitions in the first resumption of U.S. chemical weapons production since 1969.

Pikalov's comments followed a weekend tour by diplomats from 45 countries to view a display of Soviet chemical weapons at the previously secret Shikhany munitions complex, about 400 southeast of Moscow. Until April of this year, the Soviets said they did not possess or produce chemical weapons.

Pikalov said the display proves that the Soviet Union "has no special types of chemical weapons not held by the West."

Ambassador Max A. Friedersdorf, the chief U.S. negotiator at the Geneva chemical weapons talks, disagreed with Pikalov.

"To say that the U.S. plans are the impediment to an international convention to ban chemical weapons is the height of hypocrisy," he told reporters after the news conference, adding that he viewed the display at Shikhany but that the weapons appeared to be outmoded.

"The visit is itself encouraging, as a sign of movement on the Soviet side," Friedersdorf said. "They showed us artillery and rocket shells. They showed us chemical bombs, and they showed us hand grenades. I don't think our military people thought there were any surprises. They were standard-type munitions of the 1950s and 1960s. . . . We probably did not see their latest models."

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