President Reagan, addressing Europeans by radio a week before a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit, reaffirmed the strong U.S. commitment to the alliance Tuesday, declaring, "An attack on Munich is the same as an attack on Chicago."
Despite recently signing a treaty with the Soviet Union to eliminate land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, Reagan said that shorter-range nuclear weapons must remain in the NATO arsenal until there is a better balance of tanks, artillery and troops with Warsaw Pact nations.
He pledged that the United States will do its part to keep NATO forces "modern and effective."
"Our goal is not a nuclear-free, or a tank-free, or an army-free Europe, but a war-free Europe," Reagan said in a speech broadcast by the U.S. Information Agency.
His remarks were designed to lay the groundwork for a three-day trip to Brussels next week to confer with NATO heads of government. The leaders will map strategy for talks with the Soviet Union on reducing by half the number of long-range nuclear weapons, banning chemical weapons and reducing the Warsaw Pact's advantage in non-nuclear forces.
In his speech, Reagan argued that the controversial deployment of nuclear-tipped U.S. Pershing 2 and cruise missiles in Europe--countering the Soviet placement of similar weapons--had compelled the Soviets to agree to eliminate all such missiles in the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty.
'A Lesson for NATO's Critics'
"Yes, the INF agreement is a victory for NATO," Reagan said. "It should be a lesson to NATO's critics" who vigorously opposed deployment of the Pershing and ground-launched cruise missiles.
The President sought to allay fears that the INF pact would leave Western Europe vulnerable to Warsaw Pact superiority in conventional forces.
"Some are concerned about the link between the U.S. and European pillars of NATO," Reagan said. "With these (medium-range nuclear) weapons gone, they ask, is peace still secure?
"Well, I'm happy to say that the answer is 'yes.' The approximately 4,000 nuclear weapons that will remain in Europe are a strong link between the pillars of NATO, as are the more than 300,000 American servicemen and women and their families who live and work in Europe."
Reagan cautioned Europeans against being taken in by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev's policy of glasnost, which promises greater freedom for Soviet citizens.
"Can we afford to forget that the policy called glasnost is separated from the era of the gulag (political imprisonment) by fewer years than NATO has existed?" he asked.