The Soviet and French Communist parties agreed today that French nuclear forces should be counted in calculating the nuclear balance in Europe, the Soviet news agency Tass said today.
A communique released after a meeting here between Soviet party leader Yuri Andropov and French party chief Georges Marchais "to the degree that France is a member of the Atlantic alliance and must meet its obligations, its nuclear forces must be taken into consideration in this framework, in the overall calculation of forces in Europe."
The communique supported the French view when it said that the two parties felt France's nuclear force "could not be the subject of negotiations aiming to reduce them."
The question of whether France's and Britain's independent nuclear deterrent forces should be taken into consideration has been one of the trickiest hurdles preventing progress at the Geneva arms reduction talks. The Soviet Union insists that those European missiles should be counted as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's European arsenal, while the United States insists that these forces are independent and not under NATO control.
A Soviet delegate pointed out: "The French nuclear arsenal must be counted in calculating the forces present, but this does not mean that we demand a reduction of this arsenal." He added that the moment might come "to ask the question" about French forces if "concrete measures were taken toward progressive disarmament," the communique said.
But this should be in line with the French party proposed to "open the negotiations to all concerned governments," to adopt measures aimed at reducing "weapons to the lowest level while guaranteeing a balance of forces and the security of every nation and every state."
The joint communique was issued following an earlier apparent disagreement between Andropov and Marchais over the missiles when the French party delegation denied a report by Tass, saying it had attributed to Marchais "remarks he never made."
Tass, in a report it later canceled, had said Marchais felt "the main danger [in the current international situation] is from the intention of the American imperialists to deploy their new missiles in Europe."
The French party said there was "increasing alarm" at the possibility that the U.S. missiles would be installed, but that Marchais advocated "a balanced reduction of weapons."
Tass, in an unusual move, asked its clients "to cancel the dispatch on the meeting of the Soviet and French Communist Party delegations."
Tass replaced the earlier report with the joint communique issued by the two delegations.