NATO Offers to Speed Reductions : Baker Outlines Plan to Be Given Warsaw Pact Thursday
In an effort to reach an early agreement, the NATO allies will present to the Warsaw Pact two months ahead of schedule their proposal to reduce troops and non-nuclear armories in Europe, Secretary of State James A. Baker III said today.
Baker said the broadened proposal, to be presented in Vienna Thursday, will specify that each side have no more than 5,700 combat aircraft and 1,900 combat helicopters.
“By tabling this proposal, we are taking a step toward ending the military division of Europe,” Baker said.
Under the proposal, developed to counter overtures by Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, both the United States and Soviet Union would reduce military manpower--both ground and air forcetroops--in Europe to 275,000 each.
In addition, the proposal will call for mutual reductions to 20,000 tanks and 20,000 troop carriers each, and a limit on artillery pieces of between 16,500 and 24,000 for each side, depending on definitions for each weapon agreed upon by the two sides, Baker said.
Thursday’s session of the Vienna arms talks is the last scheduled before a long summer recess. Submission of NATO’s proposal before the recess gives the Soviets and their allies nearly two months to prepare a reply.
The Vienna negotiations, known as Conventional Forces in Europe or CFE, have had a sporadic history stretching back more than 15 years. President Bush has insisted the imbalance in conventional forces--the Warsaw Pact has a substantial edge in quantity if not quality over NATO--must be addressed before talks are held on the elimination of short-range, or battlefield, nuclear weapons, as proposed by Gorbachev.
Baker linked the decision to move quickly on arms control to Bush’s visit to Poland and Hungary.
“These efforts complement each other, and we think, together, advance the cause of a Europe which is whole and a Europe which is free.”
Baker insisted the timetable of an accord in a year is not unrealistic, pointing out that NATO is running 60 days ahead of its schedule.
He rejected, meanwhile, a Soviet contention that another Bush timetable--accomplishing the reductions by 1993--cannot be met.
Baker said Hungarian Foreign Minister Gyula Horn had given assurances that the Warsaw Pact decided at a meeting last week not to let the quest for an agreement get bogged down in details.
Baker today also praised the Soviets for accepting a U.S. proposal for trial monitoring of a still-unfinished strategic weapons limitation treaty.
“We think it is very good that the Soviets have responded positively,” Baker said.
Despite complaints by several private American analysts that it is a stalling tactic, Baker said trial monitoring “might well move arms control forward rather than retarding it.”
The negotiations to cut long-range nuclear bombers, missiles and submarines by 30% to 50% are being held in Geneva. Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor P. Karpov said Monday he accepted the Bush Administration’s argument that the two sides could avoid misunderstandings by finishing trial weapons inspections before the agreement is concluded.