The United States and the Soviet Union are in substantial agreement to reduce non-nuclear weapons in Europe and now will try to conclude a second pact slashing their nuclear arsenals.
Success in completing both treaties would carry arms control to new heights and contribute to the reduction in East-West tensions.Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze announced the resolution of all remaining major issues Wednesday for the most comprehensive arms reduction accord since World War II.
The U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact would limit their tanks, anti-aircraft artillery, land-based airplanes, armored combat vehicles and helicopters across Europe - from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains that separate Soviet European from Asian regions.
Baker and Shevardnadze both cautioned that final approval must await consultation with their allies. But if the allies go along, the treaty should be ready for signing at a 34-nation summit in Paris on Nov. 19-21.
Baker flew home to Washington on Wednesday, planning to return to New York on Friday for a critical meeting with Shevardnadze on nuclear weapons limits.
They made some headway on cutting intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines and bombers by up to 30 percent, but after nearly six hours of talks they decided on a one-day break.
Baker and Shevardnadze want to push on while the Soviet foreign minister is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly session.
The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty will set ceilings on non-nuclear weapons that may be deployed in Europe. But it does not cover the number of soldiers that may be put in the field, a topic Baker and Shevardnadze agreed to skip in order to meet the Paris deadline.
Shevardnadze said one sticking point remained concerning limits on helicopters, "but that is not very difficult."
The last issues settled were limits on land-based airplanes and verification procedures to guard against cheating.