US nixes Soviet missile offer
The US State Department dismissed a reported Soviet proposal to cut its intermediate-range missile force by more than half if the United States cancelled its planned missile deployment in Europe.
According to Sunday's New York Times, the Soviet Union indicated in Geneva talks two weeks ago that it would propose reducing its intermediate missile force from 600 to 250 - with 150 targeted on Western Europe and 100 on Asia - if the US cancelled plans for deploying Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe.
The proposal was seen by US officials as an expected Soviet move to appeal to the European anti-nuclear movement and to delay deployment of the missiles.
Commenting on the report, State Department spokesman Anita Stockman said that President Reagan's ''zero-zero'' option - under which no intermediate-range US missile would be deployed in Europe if Moscow eliminated its SS-20s and older SS-4s and SS-5s - offered the best basis for agreement and the greatest security for both sides.
''The current Soviet position in the intermediate-range missile negotiations would entail a Soviet monopoly over the United States in longer-range intermediate missiles. It would mean zero for the US and a substantial force of SS-20s for the USSR,'' she said.
The department also rejected a reported demand by the Soviet Union that it be allowed to maintain missiles to compensate for the nuclear forces of Britain and France, which are not included in Reagan's ''zero option.''
The department's reply was: ''The Soviets are, in effect, asking for the right to have nuclear forces equal to those of all other powers combined.''