The Washington Post

April 8, 1977

Vance Discusses Arms Talks With Ambassador Dobrynin

By Robert G. Kaiser, Washington Post Staff Writer

Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance met with Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin yesterday for the first time since U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms negotiations broke off in Moscow last week, and discussed "a number of issues . . . including the [strategic arms] talks," according to a State Department official.

Officials declined to say if the meeting marked an easing, or a continuance, of the stalemate in Moscow when the Soviet Union flatly rejected President Carter's arms control offers. There was no indication from either side as to what the two diplomats discussed beyond the bare reference to nuclear talks.

The public version of Vance's daily schedule did not mention the Dobrynin visit, and the ambassador arrived through the State Department garage, apparently to avoid attention.

Paul C. Warnke, the chief American arms negotiator, told reporters yesterday that it was up to the Soviets to make the next move in the stalled strategic arms limitation talks. "We have presented a reasonable package . . . and the ball is in their court," Warnke said.

Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko described the U.S. proposal as one sided and unacceptable in a press conference last week.

A Soviet specialist on SALT visiting Washington said yesterday that the United States should make the next move to get the talks under way again. Stressing that he was speaking unofficially, this man, a retired senior officer of the Soviet armed forces, said the latest American arms offer-- calling for reductions in existing weapons and limits on future qualitative improvements-- "looked very attractive on the surface," but proved unacceptable under close scrutiny.

Herbert Scoville, a former Central Intelligence Agency and arms control official, yesterday gave the first detailed commentary on the American proposal from the perspective of an ardent arms control advocate. While warmly welcoming the idea of reductions in arsenals and limitations on future qualitative improvements, Scoville said the U.S. proposal raised questions of potential inequality that could explain why the Soviets rejected it out of hand.

Scoville said this problem arose most obviously in terms of cruise missile--American-developed unmanned, subsonic, long-range drones that can deliver bombs with great accuracy. The U.S. proposal suggested limiting the range of cruise missiles to about 1,500 miles, but otherwise did not restrict them.

Scoville said the Soviets would likely see this as unfair to them since this range would allow a cruise missile launched from West Germany to hit any spot in the Soviet Union west of Moscow, including the capital.

Scoville also made a computation of the number of weapons that the proposal would allow each side. By his reckoning, the United States would come out of the agreement with 11,930 to 13,230 atomic warheads and bombs on strategic missiles and bombers that could be delivered to targets inside the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union, however, by Scoville's calculation, would end up with 5,518 to 7,218 atomic weapons deliverable to U.S. targets on strategic weapons.

In other words, Scoville reckoned, the United States could roughly preserve its 2-to-1 advantage in warheads. On the other hand, he said, the Soviets would have several times as much "throw weight" capacity as the Americans - that is, the payloads its strategic weapons could carry would be several times heavier.

John Rhinelander, a member of the U.S. delegation to the first round of SALT talks, appeared with Scoville at a press lunch organized by the Arms Control Association. Rhinelander criticized the Carter administration for announcing its negotiating position in public, noting that extreme secrecy was probably crucial to the success of SALT I bargaining.

Scoville and Rhinelander noted that the American proposal did not include controls on the testing or modernization of submarine-based intercontinental missiles, leaving room for a continuing arms race that could prove expensive and dangerous. But Scoville said it was most important to control land-based missiles, which are much more accurate and easier to control than those on submarines, and therefore pose a greater sneak-attack threat.

At a breakfast for reporters yesterday, Warnke indirectly acknowledged that the American proposal might have been loaded slightly to the United States' advantage. The proposal "obviously was directed at the kind of force structure we have," he said, indicating that it was up to the Soviets to point out how it might be changed to accommodate their force structure.

Warnke expressed hope that this would happen. Asked what he thought of Gromyko's ideas on arms control, he said, "I can't believe that he means it."

Warnke disputed a contention made by Zbigniew Brezezinski, the President's national security affairs adviser, who suggested last week that the United States wanted to present its radical new proposal to the Soviets without long advance warning in order to put it before the Soviet political leadership before Soviet military analysts had a chance to dissect it.

"I find it rather hard to conceive that you could indeed bypass the (Soviet) military organization," Warnke said.

Copyright 1977 The Washington Post