U.S., Soviet Arms Aides Clash Over Libya
U.S. and Soviet negotiators returned Tuesday for a fifth round of nuclear arms talks, but a bitter exchange of charges involving Libya quickly stole the spotlight from the deadlocked negotiations.
Soviet negotiator Viktor P. Karpov, in an opening statement, accused the United States of “doing virtually nothing” to further the arms talks, then declared in a reference to the U.S. April 15 raid on Libya:
“Indeed, most recently--this time outside these negotiations--the United States has taken actions openly aimed at escalating tensions and heightening the military threat. This cannot but alarm everybody.”
U.S. Ambassador Max M. Kampelman, in a last minute addition to his prepared statement, expressed regret at Karpov’s “disappointing statement.”
“He makes an unmistakable, critical reference to the military action taken by the United States against the terrorist state of Libya,” Kampelman said. “A regime with 120,000 of its troops invading and subjugating Afghanistan and its peoples is in no moral or political position to feign outrage when we defend ourselves against Libya’s undeclared war against the United States and its people.”
Soviet Help for Kadafi
Kampelman added: “We cannot help but be reminded that it is the Soviet Union which supplies and encourages (Libyan leader Moammar) Kadafi and his attempt to terrorize the Western World and its free people.”
The two sides will meet Thursday at the Soviet mission’s offices and are expected to continue the talks until early July. Prospects for any definitive progress are even slimmer than in the past.
Kampelman said that “it is time to move ahead more energetically and steadfastly than ever” and that “the potential for forward movement exists.” He said the United States has put reasonable proposals on the table and “we hope that the instructions to the Soviet delegation will permit a serious negotiation to take place based on the agreements made by our two leaders in this city last November.”
Karpov said much the same thing: “The Soviet side has tabled detailed and concrete proposals . . . fully consistent with the objective of implementing the mandate for negotiations agreed upon earlier with the United States. Given the other side’s good will and willingness to search for mutually acceptable solutions, the Soviet position opens up real opportunities for reaching agreement.”
Last November, President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev agreed that a 50% reduction in nuclear weapons should be the aim of the negotiations. The Soviet focus then shifted to a proposal from Gorbachev, in January, to eliminate all medium-range missiles in Europe. The United States countered with a demand that medium-range missiles in Asia be included in any reduction, and the Soviet negotiators then shifted to a campaign for a complete ban on nuclear testing.
Thus the talks are deadlocked, and the consensus on the American side is that no progress is likely until firm arrangements are made for another Reagan-Gorbachev meeting, one that now seems unlikely before the end of the year.