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Soviets to Visit U.S. Chemical Arms Bases : Moscow Experts Will See Weapons Bunker, Methods of Disposal

October 06, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Soviet experts will visit U.S. chemical weapons facilities next month in Tooele, Utah, the State Department announced today.

"We are pleased that the Soviets have finally accepted our invitation," spokesman Charles E. Redman said.

The Soviets had refused to join experts from other nations in visiting the facilities in 1983. The Nov. 19-20 tour will include an inspection of a chemical weapons bunker and procedures for destroying old chemical weapons.

"An important element of our program includes the destruction of existing and aging stockpiles," Redman said.

He rejected Soviet charges that U.S. plans to produce a new form of chemical weapon this year could scuttle talks in Geneva on an international ban on chemical weapons.

The State Department official said the U.S. effort to develop new binary weapons is a "modest modernization program." He said the aim is a safer and more flexible deterrent.

'Serious Obstacles'

Redman said the United States is not trying to match what the Soviets have done, but simply to "raise serious doubts in the minds of the Soviet leadership as to the utility of initiating chemical warfare."

The Soviets announced in April that they had halted production of chemical weapons. U.S. production stopped in 1969. Initial steps will be taken in December to develop binary weapons--those using two chemical agents that become lethal only when combined.

Soviet Lt. Gen. Anatoly Kuntsevich said Monday at a press conference in Moscow that "the U.S. binary program creates serious obstacles, if it does not torpedo altogether, the negotiations" in the Swiss city.

The next session is due to begin Nov. 30.

President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev agreed at their first summit meeting in Geneva in November, 1985, to intensify talks on chemical weapons and on halting their proliferation to other countries.

The two sides have held six rounds of talks since then on chemical warfare and two rounds on nonproliferation.

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