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President’s Text: ‘Transforming the Military Map of Europe’

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From a Times Staff Writer

The following are excerpts from President Bush’s speech delivered Monday at a closed-door meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s North Atlantic Council:

The fact of change in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is unmistakeable. In fact, the change is revolutionary. We want to see it continue. We want it to succeed.

While the outside world cannot determine the ultimate success of (the Soviet reform movement known as) perestroika , we can and must be creative in encouraging positive trends toward greater reform and more freedom. We can look for ways to promote the institutionalization of change in human rights, in the economy, in the military. . . .

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Conventional forces alone have not guaranteed peace in Europe, and nuclear weapons continue to play a key role in demonstrating to any aggressor that war in Europe is unthinkable.

The proof that this alliance has followed a wise course is that the Soviet Union is now rethinking its pursuit of a clear military superiority that has so long compelled us to devote our valuable resources toward a necessary defense. . . .

We may be on the verge of a revolutionary and more ambitious arms control agreement than anyone considered possible. Thus, I believe the alliance should now act decisively and creatively.

Therefore, I am proposing that NATO countries consider the following initiatives:

First, we should lock in the Eastern agreement to Western-proposed ceilings on tanks and armored troop carriers. We should also seek agreement on a common numerical ceiling for artillery in the range between NATO’s and the (Warsaw) Pact’s numbers, provided definitional problems can be solved. All reduced equipment should be destroyed.

Second, we should expand our current proposal to include all land-based combat aircraft and helicopters, by proposing that both sides reduce in these categories to a level 15% below the current NATO totals. Given the Warsaw Pact’s advantage in numbers, the Pact would have to make far deeper reductions than NATO to establish parity at these lower levels. As with the other reductions, the equipment should be destroyed.

Third, we should propose a 20% cut in combat manpower in U.S. “stationed forces,” and a resulting ceiling on U.S. and Soviet ground and air forces stationed outside of national territory in the Atlantic-to-Urals zone at approximately 275,000 each. This reduction to parity, a fair and balanced level of strength, would compel the Soviets to reduce their 600,000-strong Red Army in Eastern Europe by 325,000. These reduced forces would be demobilized.

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Finally, but very important, we want to accelerate the timetable for reaching and implementing such an agreement. Given Warsaw Pact movement toward the Western approach, there is no reason why a five- to six-year timetable as suggested by General Secretary (Mikhail S.) Gorbachev is necessary. I believe that it should be possible to reach such an agreement in six months to a year and to accomplish the reductions by 1991 or 1992.

And so, I call on General Secretary Gorbachev to join us in accelerating the timetable for agreement and implementation of these proposals. With these ambitious new initiatives, NATO can create a further opportunity for the Soviets to demonstrate their new thinking and reduce their military burden. Indeed, if Moscow accepts this fair offer, the results could dramatically increase stability on the Continent and transform the military map of Europe.

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