Treaty amounts to 'unilateral Soviet disarmament'

October 05, 1990|By Charles W. Corddry | Charles W. Corddry,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- The Soviet Union and East European countries will have to destroy almost five times as many tanks as the Western alliance under the historic new treaty establishing parity in non-nuclear arms between the former Cold War foes, Secretary of State James A. Baker III disclosed yesterday.

Independent arms control authorities here described the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, to be signed in Paris on Nov. 18, as virtually "a unilateral Soviet disarmament agreement."

The only significant cuts the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies will have to make will be in tank forces, they said, while the Warsaw Pact, mainly the Soviets, will have to destroy tens of thousands of other weapons as well.

Given the huge numerical superiority of the Soviet and allied Warsaw Pact forces, that was inevitable in reaching the parity that Moscow already had agreed should be the goal.

Mr. Baker said at a White House news conference that the Warsaw Pact would have to destroy 19,000 tanks while NATO must destroy 4,000.

The destruction ratios were even more in the West's favor in other categories of weapons, he said: artillery, armored combat vehicles, helicopters and combat aircraft.

Under the agreement, as Mr. Baker outlined it, weapons ceilings for each of the two military alliances will be 20,000 tanks, 20,000 artillery pieces, 30,000 armored combat vehicles and 2,000 helicopters.

No ceiling had yet been fixed for combat aircraft, he said, because that was "still subject to some discussion" among allies. Deciding numbers of aircraft and types to be limited has been one of the most vexing issues in the 19 months of talks.

A report yesterday from Vienna, Austria, site of the negotiations, said the aircraft ceiling for each side would be 7,000. If so, that would be higher than NATO wanted and might account for Mr. Baker's reticence on the matter.

The secretary of state further reported that the limits on weapons for any one country would be 13,300 tanks, 13,700 artillery pieces, 20,000 armored combat vehicles, 1,500 helicopters and 5,150 combat planes.

The treaty will cover the area from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains, the eastern boundary of the European part of the Soviet Union, and thus will govern how Moscow mounts military power in part of its own country.

Mr. Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze resolved the major obstacles in New York this week. The treaty is to be signed by 22 members of the two alliances in Paris the day before a summit of the 34 members of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The two foreign ministers are to meet again in New York today to try to expedite U.S.-Soviet negotiations on intercontinental nuclear weapons -- the START or Strategic Arms Reduction Talks.

President Bush said at the White House news conference yesterday that the non-nuclear pact would "decisively improve the balance of military power." It was an effort, he said, to "ensure that the political transformation of Europe is matched in the military field."

The Soviets had agreed from the start on parity in conventional arms, former arms negotiator Raymond Garthoff of the Brookings Institution said at a briefing. Thus they made their largest concessions "up front" when talks started.

They effectively came in with a "unilateral Soviet disarmament agreement," said Lee Feinstein, a research director for the independent Arms Control Association.

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