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Soviets Warn NATO Not to Boost Nuclear Forces

December 17, 1987|WILLIAM TUOHY | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — The head of the Soviet armed forces warned Wednesday that any attempt by the Western allies to increase their nuclear forces in Europe would be "impermissible" and could jeopardize further arms control agreements.

Marshal Sergei F. Akhromeyev, chief of the general staff and deputy minister of defense, was quoted as saying in an interview with the Communist Party newspaper Pravda that some members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are drawing up plans to expand their nuclear capability.

He said they are doing so in order to compensate for the loss of intermediate-range missiles scheduled to be eliminated under the treaty signed Dec. 8 in Washington by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Missile-Carrying Planes

"NATO preparations are under way for building up nuclear armaments that are not subject to elimination," Akhromeyev said. "Specifically, those plans provide for additional deployment at airfields of missile-carrying aircraft and of ships with cruise missiles on board in the nearby seas.

"These actions run counter to the spirit of the . . . treaty," he continued. "The danger of this additional armament is obvious. If it is not stopped, it can lead to another round of the arms race and reduce the effectiveness of the treaty signed."

Akhromeyev said that such actions "are impermissible . . . (and) can undermine confidence in negotiation and in the U.S. and the NATO Bloc."

He indicated that important compromises were made in Washington by Reagan and Gorbachev involving the interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, the space-based missile defense system known as "Star Wars."

Before the Reagan-Gorbachev meetings in Washington, he said, the United States had taken the position that testing of the SDI outside the laboratory would not violate the ABM treaty, but he said that such testing is unacceptable to the Soviet Union.

In order to prevent this U.S. view of the ABM Treaty from endangering talks on reducing strategic, or long-range, nuclear missiles, Akhromeyev said, "we managed to have recorded in the final joint statment that both sides are obliged to observe the ABM treaty in the form in which it was signed in 1972."

On the subject of conventional arms, Akhromeyev conceded that the Warsaw Pact powers have superiority--or "asymmetry," as he put it--over NATO.

Finding Imbalances

"The first thing to do," he said, "is find out the imbalances and asymmetry in the armed forces of the sides, then decide what is to be reduced and by which of the sides."

He pointed out that NATO has an advantage in strike aircraft but that all conventional forces, particularly "dual-purpose armaments" that are capable of delivering conventional as well as nuclear weapons, must be considered in any broad arms control discussion.

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