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U.S. to Study Soviet Offer on Sea-Launched Missiles

From Associated Press

National security adviser Brent Scowcroft said Friday the Bush Administration will take a close look at Soviet claims that it would give up sea-launched nuclear cruise missiles if the United States did the same.

“That’s one of the open areas in START,” Scowcroft said in reference to the U.S.-Soviet negotiations on fashioning a strategic arms reduction treaty. “We’ve had a number of proposals back and forth. We’ll have to look at this one carefully and see what it means.”

However, Scowcroft said verification remains a serious problem to overcome. Scowcroft, who is in Paris with President Bush for the economic summit, was interviewed on CBS-TV’s “This Morning” program.

In Moscow, Col. Gen. Nikolai F. Chervov said the Kremlin would be willing to give up the sea-launched cruise missiles depending on U.S. actions.

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Chervov, chief of the arms control section of the Soviet General Staff, said “If I were determining policy, then I’d accept it,” The Washington Post reported in Friday’s editions.

The general said it was a “progressive suggestion” to eliminate nuclear cruise missiles.

The comments marked a departure from the Soviet stance on the issue at the U.S.-Soviet arms negotiations taking place in Geneva.

The Soviets, said Chervov, would prefer to give up all cruise missiles at sea, but faced with the U.S. Navy’s strong desire to keep conventionally armed missiles, “we are coming to this.

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“How the Soviet Union decides, we’ll see,” Chervov said.

Chervov said the Soviet military budget would decline about 25% by 1995. He said defense spending already had been reduced by 10 billion rubles, the equivalent of $16 billion at official exchange rates, below the government’s original plan for 1987 and 1988.

He said military spending would drop another 10 billion rubles by 1992 and, if circumstances allow, by 10 billion rubles more in the following three years.

In May, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said the Soviet military budget for 1989 was 77.3 billion rubles, the equivalent of $118 billion, and the total would be cut by 10 billion rubles by the end of 1991.

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