UNITED NATIONS, N.Y.
PRESIDENT Bush's proposal that the United States and the Soviet Union slash chemical arms could revive stagnant talks in Geneva and put new pressure on third-world countries for a global ban of the weapons. Mr. Bush, in his first speech to the UN General Assembly, offered Monday to reduce US chemical arms stocks by 80 percent - if the Soviet Union cuts its arsenal to equal levels. The proposal does not extend to biological arms.
For five years, 40 nations have been negotiating a worldwide ban on chemical arms in Geneva. But they are moving slowly and some experts doubt a treaty will be concluded.
Under Bush's proposal, Moscow and Washington would act now, without waiting for the 40-nation treaty, providing they work out strict verification measures. All US chemical weapons would be destroyed within 10 years, once all nations capable of building such weapons signed a treaty agreeing to a ban.
Third-world countries have been reluctant to eliminate their chemical stockpiles, saying any such cuts should be linked to reductions in nuclear arms by the stronger military powers.
``The proposal [makes] it impossible for these other countries to argue that major powers have them and are just dragging their feet,'' Secretary of State James Baker III said.