A revised Soviet proposal to make a disputed Siberian radar station inoperable met with swift U.S. rejection, leaving the future of Krasnoyarsk and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty cloudy.
Soviet negotiator Vladimir Kuznetsov presented the proposal to make the equipment at Krasnoyarsk inoperable to Henry Cooper, his U.S. counterpart, who rejected it outright, a U.S. official said Monday.The exchange took place during arms control talks in Geneva, Switzerland, last month, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
This was the second Soviet attempt to settle the dispute over Krasnoyarsk, which President Reagan and even some of his American critics say is in violation of the 1972 treaty's constraints on defenses against missiles.
A few days earlier, Viktor P. Karpov, the Soviet foreign ministry's top arms control specialist, had offered to dismantle the facility if the two governments resolved their differences over the treaty.
The White House and State Department publicly rejected the offer. "The Soviets should comply with their ABM treaty obligations by dismantling the radar without delay and without conditions," Phyllis Oakley, a State Department spokeswoman, said. "I am not going to discuss the merits of conditions."
Kuznetsov, subsequently clarifying the proposal to Cooper, said the Soviets were not prepared to level Krasnoyarask but only to make the equipment inoperable, the U.S. official told The Associated Press.
Cooper was described as vigorous in rejecting the Soviet proposition.
The 1972 treaty, considered a landmark in the arms control process, restricts U.S. and Soviet defenses on the theory that a potential aggressor would be less inclined to launch a nuclear attack if the retaliation were apt to be devastating.
Reagan is in the process of deciding whether the Krasnoyarsk radar is a "material breach" of the accord. That, in turn, could clear the way for the United States to go beyond the treaty in the U.S. anti-missile program known popularly as "Star Wars."
The president's advisers are split. Some have suggested he take the legal step, while others have recommended further diplomatic efforts to resolve the Krasnoyarsk dispute.