Chief U.S. arms negotiator Max M. Kampelman challenged the Soviet Union on Monday to present “concrete proposals” for reducing nuclear weapons to back up its highly publicized hints of new flexibility in the arms talks.
Arriving for the resumption of the third and most crucial round of the current U.S.-Soviet negotiations on space and nuclear weapons, Kampelman refused to say outright that he was unhappy with Moscow’s recent propaganda blitz.
But his prepared statement appeared to complain that the Kremlin’s vague promises of “radical reductions” in offensive nuclear arms have captured world attention for several weeks. When asked to elaborate on his remarks, he said, “Draw your own conclusions.”
In his statement, Kampelman referred to Soviet comments on the negotiations since the talks recessed in July, and added:
“We now await with interest to see if these forays into the headlines will be followed, as we hope they will, by concrete proposals here in Geneva, at the negotiating table, the designated forum of the conduct of serious business.”
U.S. Ready for Progress
If Soviet negotiators are prepared to make a “genuine negotiating effort without preconditions,” he added, the United States is ready for progress.
However, sources said that Kampelman is returning to the talks, which resume Thursday, without any basic change in his negotiating instructions. The Reagan Administration felt that the U.S. delegation has enough flexibility to elaborate on the U.S. position if the Soviets appear interested in serious bargaining, the sources added.
At a sendoff meeting last week for the U.S. negotiating team, President Reagan said the Americans have “unprecedented authority for give and take” in seeking arms cuts.
Kampelman reportedly told the White House earlier this month that he was frustrated that the Soviets have gained a public relations advantage with their new arms control hints.
The new round of talks here will have added importance because of the summit meeting between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev in Geneva Nov. 19-20, Kampelman said.
That summit will be the first meeting between the leaders of the two superpowers in six years, and considerable expectations for arms control progress have already built up, due almost exclusively to Soviet efforts.
Soviet officials have indicated a willingness to consider cuts of 30% to 40% in nuclear weapon delivery systems, such as missiles and bombers, as well as in the nuclear warheads and bombs they carry.
This reduction, coincidentally or not, would be close to the one-third cut in warheads of missiles proposed by the United States three years ago. The offer excluded bombers at the time, but officials later conceded that these weapons could also be considered as part of the negotiating proposal.
In return for their concession, according to reports from Moscow, the Soviets want a ban on the Administration’s Strategic Defense Initiative, the “Star Wars” program, as well as formal reaffirmation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that bars deployment of missile defenses in space.
So far, there has been no sign that Reagan is willing to trade his controversial space defense effort, now in its research phase, for a reduction in Soviet offensive nuclear weapons.
But there have been reports that with the successful U.S. anti-satellite test last week, the Administration is considering the possibility of offering a mutual ban on the Soviet and U.S. anti-satellite systems now available.