Toward an arms deal

BOB LEVIN October 6 1986

Toward an arms deal

BOB LEVIN October 6 1986

Toward an arms deal


All week long the arms-control momentum grew. In Stockholm, negotiators from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact reached an agreement intended to prevent surprise attacks by either side, the first major security accord since 1979. In separate talks in Geneva, U.S. and Soviet delegates gathered around a long rectangular table at the Soviet mission, where they were making progress toward reducing the number of medium-range nuclear warheads in Europe. And in New York, U.S. President Ronald Reagan told the United Nations General Assembly that there were signs that the “ice of the negotiating stalemate could break.” But for all that, neither an arms-control breakthrough nor the superpower summit where it would be signed and celebrated were certain at week’s end. The main reason could be summed up in one word: Daniloff.

Since the Soviets arrested U.S.

journalist Nicholas Daniloff on Aug. 30 and charged him with espionage, his case has become the chief stumbling block to improved U.S.-Soviet relations. Last week U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze met three times in New York to seek a mutually face-saving formula to free Daniloff, a 51-year-old correspondent for the weekly newsmagazine U.S. News and World Report. U.S. officials cautioned against expecting an imminent solution. But the two sides were reportedly trying to strike a deal by Sept. 30, when Shevardnadze (page 24) was scheduled to fly to Ottawa for three days of talks with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and External Affairs Minister Joe Clark. Soviet officials acknowledged the high stakes of the Daniloff affairincluding a summit between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. “We have this road to the summit,” said Soviet foreign ministry spokesman Gennady Gerasimov. “We must

remove the bumps, maybe one by one.”

Still, the broad outlines of a U.S. proposal to remove those bumps had begun to emerge. According to U.S. officials, the Soviets first would let Daniloff go home. Then, Moscow would exchange unspecified Soviet dissidents for Gennady Zakharov, a Soviet physicist at the United Nations, who was arrested the week before Daniloff and subsequently charged with spying. That arrangement was clearly designed to appease U.S. conservatives who criticized Reagan for agreeing three weeks ago to release Zakharov and Daniloff into the custody of their own embassies while they awaited trial. In the conservatives’ view, the arrangement equated an innocent U.S. journalist with a Soviet spy.

But some experts say that when it comes to a final deal, Gorbachev will not agree to free Daniloff first, denying Reagan the chance to claim that there was no Zakharov-for-Daniloff swap. Said Jerry Hough, a Soviet ex-

pert at Duke University in North Carolina: “The Daniloff case will have to be solved by the President eating crow.” And the matter is complicated by a U.S.-Soviet disagreement over the Soviet mission to the United Nations, which U.S. officials regard as a spy centre. Last March, Washington ordered Moscow to cut the size of its mission staff by one-third over two years, with the first reduction due by October. Two weeks ago—after Daniloff’s arrest—the United States gave the Soviets an expulsion list of 25 names, prompting Soviet warnings of unspecified retaliation.

But beneath the harsh words, East and West did meet last week—to sign the Stockholm agreement. An outgrowth of the 1975 Helsinki accords on security, economic ties and human rights in Europe, the Stockholm talks involved 35 Warsaw Pact and NATO countries, including Canada. After

nearly three years of discussions, last week the two sides reached an accord designed to reduce the risk of war in Europe by letting each alliance know more about what the other’s forces were doing. Beginning Jan. 1, the two sides are to provide advance warning about all troop buildups and manoeuvres that involve 13,000 or more soldiers. If the total exceeds 17,000, the accord states, observers from the other alliance must be invited. To ensure compliance, there is also a provision for snap inspections by land or air.

Last week Gorbachev welcomed the accord as “a victory of common sense.” John Barrett, deputy director of the Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament, called the agreement “a preliminary step and an important one.” But, he added, “there are no reductions or limitations on arms.” Re-

ductions in arms and troops were the goals of a handful of East-West conferences being held in three European cities. They included U.S.-Soviet talks in Bern, Switzerland, on a proposed chemical weapons ban, which began again last month, and NATO-Warsaw Pact discussions in Vienna on reducing troop strengths in Central Europe, which resumed last week. As well, a 40-nation conference in Geneva to review a 1972 ban on the use of biological agents such as viruses or fungi concluded late last week with agreement on a strengthened mechanism to deal with complaints of noncompliance.

Most crucial of all, however, were the year-old U.S.-Soviet talks in Geneva on controlling nuclear and space weapons. Last week, as the discussions resumed after a three-month break, the diplomatic chill caused by the Daniloff affair did not stop the 90-person U.S. team from hosting a reception for

the 60-member Soviet delegation on a rented steamer on Lake Geneva. “There was a very nice, cordial atmosphere,” said an American source. “It broke the ice.”

Progress in the area of intermediate-range missiles in Europe was “especially promising,” according to a deputy foreign ministry spokesman in Moscow. The United States plans to install 572 cruise and Pershing lí missiles in Europe, while the Soviets have an estimated 930 SS-20 missiles aimed at Western Europe. The Soviets had demanded that both sides remove all such warheads. But recently they have begun talking about cutting back to a token force of perhaps 100 missiles each—and they have stopped insisting that British and French nuclear forces be included in any agreement. Still, even if the Daniloff case is settled

soon, there is no guarantee that a missile accord can be reached in time for a summit this year. “Nobody wants to be held to a deadline,” said a senior Canadian diplomat in Brussels. “It could force negotiators to choose between making hasty concessions or digging in their heels against the other side’s most constructive proposals.”

There are also signs of compromise on the matter of limiting the U.S. Strategic Defence Initiative, known as the Star Wars program. In the past, the Soviets have insisted on 15 to 20 more years of adherence to the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty, which bars deployment of such space-based systems. But U.S. officials said last week that Gorbachev, in a letter to Reagan, proposed adherence for “up to” 15 years—an apparent indication that there is room to negotiate.

To many analysts, the recent spate of concessions on both sides is evidence that Gorbachev and Reagan really want a summit and an arms accord. Gorbachev is intent on overhauling his country’s economy, experts say, and may well see arms control as a way to cut his military budget. For Reagan, a past opponent of arms limitation, even the appearance of seriously negotiating with Moscow can help Republican congressional candidates in November at a time when arms control is a major public concern.

As a second-term I president, Reagan may « also be contemplating his place in history. According to Raymond Garthoff, a Soviet-affairs specialist with the liberal Brookings Institution in Washington, Reagan “wants to leave office having accomplished two goals: the reinvigoration of American power and standing and, at the same time, a more stable peace.” But other experts predict that Gorbachev will take his time before letting Reagan have his way. “The chances of a summit this year are near zero,” said Duke University’s Hough, “and I feel that strongly enough to have made some expensive bets on it.” Reagan seems to be betting just the opposite. But he is also well-positioned to blame the Soviets—and the Daniloff affair—if he does not sign an arms-control agreement early this winter.