Soviet chief arms negotiator Viktor P. Karpov blamed the United States on Tuesday for the impasse in the arms talks as he arrived here for the third round of those talks.
But he promised “constructive and businesslike negotiations” if the United States shows readiness to reach “mutually acceptable solutions” on offensive nuclear weapons and space arms.
In a prepared text, he said the failure so far to reach an agreement was due to the United States’ refusal to discuss limitations on its search for space-based missile defenses.
Karpov’s remarks were somewhat milder than his previous arrival statements, in which he appeared to demand a halt to the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative as a prerequisite for discussing limits on offensive nuclear weapons.
No Substantive Change
But diplomatic sources here said they saw no change of substance in the Soviet position and that any change of style was probably due to the scheduled November summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
Echoing a point that chief U.S. negotiator Max M. Kampelman made in his arrival statement Monday, Karpov said the coming summit meeting makes the new round of arms talks “particularly important in view of the substance of matters under discussion and their significance in curbing the arms race, enhancing stability and improving Soviet-American relations.”
The third round of talks will open Thursday.
Karpov noted that Gorbachev had called a meeting of the Soviet Communist Party’s Central Committee on Monday, implying that his negotiating instructions have been changed from those in previous rounds and have been endorsed by that powerful Soviet body.
But he offered no specifics to support such an implication, other than the absence of the harsh rhetoric of the past.
Arms Race in Space
The Soviet delegation “is under instructions to work for meaningful and mutually acceptable solutions (for) . . . preventing an arms race in space and terminating it on Earth,” Karpov said.
“Unfortunately, the U.S. position, above all on the key issue of the non-militarization of space, has so far made it impossible” to reach agreement, he said.
The Reagan Administration has refused to discuss limits on its space defense (“Star Wars”) program on the grounds that, so far, it is only a research effort not barred by any arms treaty.
Washington wants only to negotiate limits on offensive nuclear weapons, but the Soviets want both offensive and defensive arms “considered and resolved” together, as Karpov repeated Tuesday.