U.S., Russia Debate Tactical Nuclear Arms

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Washington and Moscow sparred aver each other's tactical nuclear weapons following an Oct. 5-6 visit to Russia by a senior Department of State official, who also rebuked Russia for not withdrawing its armed forces from two of its neighbors.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Assistant secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker indicated that the United States had questions about Russia's fulfillment of October 1991 pledges regarding its tactical nuclear weapons, which arc warheads designed for use on the battlefield rather than the more powerful kinds deployed on long-range missiles and bombers.

Specifically, then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev promised Moscow would dismantle its nuclear warheads for tactical missiles, mines, and artillery munitions. Gorbachev also pledged to store in central locations nuclear warheads removed from air defense missiles, surface ships, multipurpose submarines, and land-based naval aircraft. The Soviet president volunteered these steps in response to similar unilateral moves announced by President George H. W. Bush days earlier. Together, the commitments are known as the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs). (see/lCV; October 1991.)

The Russian Defense and Foreign Ministries offered their assessments Oct. 7 on how well Gorbachev's goals had been achieved. The Defense Ministry claimed that "|t|hc Russian side has fulfilled these obligations by dismantling nuclear warheads from ground-based tactical missiles and removing tactical nuclear weapons from surface ships and submarines." For its part, the Foreign Ministry stated, "Russia has practically carried out in full all of the [tactical nuclear-weapon] reduction initiatives that had been put forward." It added, "All those weapons, unlike the situation with the United States, are located solely within our national territory."

'!"he 26-member NATO alliance stations nearly 500 U.S. nuclear gravity bombs in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. NATO asserts its nuclear weapons holdings, which peaked at more than 7,000 warheads, are "an essential political and military link" for alliance members.

The State Department released a statement Oct. …