The Soviet Union offered Tuesday to dismantle the controversial radar station at Krasnoyarsk, which the United States has long complained is in violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.
In return, the Soviets said they would insist that the United States agree to observe the ABM treaty for another nine or 10 years.
“If an understanding to abide by the ABM treaty . . . is reached, the Soviet Union will be ready to dismantle the Krasnoyarsk radar in a verifiable way that would leave no doubt on the part of the United States,” Viktor P. Karpov, the Foreign Ministry’s chief arms control expert, told reporters.
Karpov made no reference to previous Soviet demands that any move to scrap the Krasnoyarsk facility would be conditioned on the U.S. dismantling radar stations at Thule, Greenland, and Fylingdales, England.
He rejected U.S. contentions that the Krasnoyarsk station constitutes a violation of the ABM treaty, saying that it was designed to track “space objects.”
Construction at Krasnoyarsk was halted last October as a gesture of good will, he said, adding that “this moratorium is still in force.”
According to the ABM Treaty, radar stations of the Krasnoyarsk type are permitted only near the country’s borders. Kraysnoyarsk, in the Kazakh Soviet republic, is about 1,000 miles inland.
Tuesday’s proposal appeared to be motivated by a decision of the U.S. National Security Planning Group, which earlier this month recommended that President Reagan formally declare Krasnoyarsk a material breach of the treaty. This would allow the United States to abrogate the treaty or to commit a similar violation. The United States could make a formal accusation of a treaty breach at a review conference scheduled for this fall.
Karpov’s remarks constituted the second Soviet arms control initiative in as many days. On Monday, he offered to permit Western inspection of East Bloc conventional forces before the resumption of conventional arms reduction talks in order to verify figures put forth by the Soviets. The verification issue has been a major sticking point in the long-stalled process of conventional arms reduction.
Tuesday’s proposal to dismantle the Krasnoyarsk facility reflects a Soviet desire to commit the United States to the ABM Treaty. Moscow sees this as essential in order to halt the progress of Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, known as “Star Wars,” which it regards as a dangerous new dimension to the arms race.