Soviets Vow To Quit Vietnam if U.S. Leaves Philippines
Mikhail S. Gorbachev said Friday that Soviet forces will abandon a strategic naval base in Vietnam if the United States pulls its armed forces out of bases in the Philippines.
In a key foreign policy speech, the Soviet leader announced that the Kremlin has frozen its nuclear weapon stocks in Soviet Asia. He also responded to U.S. allegations that a Siberian radar violates a superpower arms treaty by suggesting that the station be used to study space.
Gorbachev made the 1 1/2-hour speech during a meeting with Communist Party and local government workers in the city of Krasnoyarsk, 2,000 miles east of Moscow and the site of the controversial radar. The official Tass news agency carried a summary.
A seven-point plan “aimed at strengthening security in the Asia-Pacific region,” highlighted the speech, the first major address by Gorbachev since he returned Monday from a six-week vacation.
It was the first time Gorbachev focused on relations with Asia since a July 28, 1986, speech at the Pacific port of Vladivostok.
In that speech, Gorbachev called for a summit with China and peace in the region. Friday’s speech reiterated the call for a summit with Beijing and urged Japan not to increase its military strength.
“Aware of the Asian and Pacific countries’ concern, the Soviet Union will not increase the amount of any nuclear weapons in the region--it has already been practicing this for some time--and is calling on the United States and other nuclear powers not to deploy them additionally in the region,” Gorbachev said, according to the Tass summary.
“If the United States agrees to the elimination of military bases in the Philippines, the Soviet Union will be ready . . . to give up the fleet’s material and technical supply station in Cam Ranh Bay.”
The Pentagon describes Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam as the Soviets’ largest naval deployment base abroad, threatening U.S. military presence in the Philippines. U.S. officials in Bangkok said about 7,000 Soviet personnel are stationed there.
The United States maintains six bases in the Philippines. The two major base--Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base--are the largest U.S. military installations outside the United States, but American-Filipino talks on an agreement to review the final two years of the leases, which expire in 1991, have stalled.
In Washington, President Reagan commented on Gorbachev’s proposal regarding the bases.
“I haven’t had an opportunity to go into it in detail in what it is he’s proposing, but I look forward to doing that because certainly we want to do anything we can to help bring about a better relationship between our two countries,” Reagan told reporters.
Talks ‘Aren’t Going Well’
On Thursday, Secretary of State George P. Shultz said talks in Manila on compensation for the bases and other issues “basically aren’t going well.”
Gorbachev proposed “that a center for international cooperation in the utilization of space for peaceful purposes be set up on the basis of the Krasnoyarsk radar station,” Tass said.
Although his wording was vague, Gorbachev appeared to be offering to dismantle or convert the 30-story radar. The U.S. government says the installation violates the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and is a major obstacle to talks in Geneva toward halving long-range missile arsenals.
“Speculation about the Krasnoyarsk radar station continues,” the Soviet leader said in remarks carried by Soviet television. “It’s turning out to have a slowing effect on the Geneva negotiations.”
Pressure on Administration
The move would also put more pressure on the Reagan Administration to act on Soviet complaints that the United States is violating the ABM treaty, particularly by its Star Wars program for a space-based missile defense.
“Our concern over the construction of the U.S. radar stations in Greenland and Britain remains. Experts say that they are a downright violation of the ABM treaty. We expect that Washington will take appropriate measures in response to our initiative,” he said.
The Soviet Union offered last month to dismantle the radar equipment if the United States agreed to commit itself to the ABM treaty for nine or 10 years.
Asked about Gorbachev’s proposal on the Krasnoyarsk radar, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater reiterated the U.S. position that the facility must be dismantled because it violates ABM treaty.
Treaty Violation Cited
The United States has contended that the radar violates the treaty because it is not at the edge of the country, pointed outward, as the pact stipulates such a radar must be.
The Soviets maintain that the radar is designed for the tracking of satellites and spacecraft and not for the detection of any incoming missiles.
Tass implied that Gorbachev agreed to U.S. demands that the Krasnoyarsk base be scrapped.
“This is our reply to the West’s concerns over the Krasnoyarsk station,” Tass quoted Gorbachev as saying.
‘Good Will and Trust’
On China, Gorbachev said Soviets “stand for the full normalization of relations” and noted that “good will and trust” have been increasing with the Chinese.
The Kremlin’s ties with Beijing have been strained since the two Communist giants split over ideological and strategic differences in the early 1960s.
Friday’s speech came at the end of a five-day visit to the Krasnoyarsk region during which Gorbachev heard numerous complaints from residents about poor living conditions.