Arms control: how US, Europe view Reagan's words; Europeans find little to cheer in Reagan address
President Reagan's gestures toward the world's nuclear fears have met with a rather cool welcome from Western European governments and regret from Western European peace activists.
The West German chancellor endorsed peripheral aspects of Reagan's press conference remarks, but kept a public silence about the main points. The Dutch foreign minister regretted continued American linkage of strategic arms control talks to the world political situation.
And the international secretary of Western Europe's strongest antinuclear movement called it a ''pity'' that Reagan didn't go further toward meeting the Kennedy-Hatfield proposal for an immediate nuclear freeze.
In London the Foreign Office said it ''warmly welcomed'' the Presicent's call for a dramatic reduction in nuclear weapons.
West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt's comments, as released by a government spokesman, were made to US Ambassador Arthur F. Burns April 1. Schmidt informed Burns, the spokesman said, that he was pleased with Reagan's remarks because the President ''especially stressed alliance policy.'' He also approved the President's reference to Reagan's Nov. 18 speech proposing ''zero option'' in the Euromissile negotiations in Geneva. That November address, Schmidt is quoted as saying, was a ''grand speech.''
Schmidt was not quoted as applying any such enthusiastic adjective to Reagan's March 31 press conference.
Specifically, he released no public comments lauding Reagan's call for a dramatic reduction of nuclear weapons -- after the US has completed the Reagan administration's projected nuclear buildup. Nor did Schmidt release any comments noting Reagan's failure to set a definite date for resumption of strategic arms control talks with the Soviet Union, or on Reagan's implicit ''linkage'' of this resumption to general Soviet behavior throughout the world.
The Dutch foreign minister Max van der Stoel did release such comments, and they were negative. When questioned by a Dutch radio interviewer, van der Stoel said he thought it a pity that Reagan had set no definite date for opening of Soviet-US strategic talks. Dutch opinion, he noted, thinks these negotiations are so important that they should be opened no matter what the world situation.
Wim Bartels, international secretary of the Dutch antinuclear movement, the Interchurch Council, said in response to a telephone query that the Reagan remarks did not commit Washington to anything. Advocacy of fair and controlled arms limitations and even disarmament in general looks finer than it really is in practice, Bartels noted, citing 37 years of rhetoric and no disarmament as evidence of this. He said that the Interchurch Peace Council therefore doesn't expect much from the Reagan remarks - and hopes that the Kennedy-Hatfield proponents will continue to press for an immediate nuclear freeze in the US.
Asked how he would rate, on the scale of seriousness and propaganda, Reagan's latest position and Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev's earlier proposal for a nuclear freeze in Europe, Bartels terms them about the same. He said he found Brezhnev's slightly better since it involved a unilateral step of a moratorium on deployment.