The thorny question of British and French nuclear forces in Europe eventually must be answered in arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union, Vice President Bush said yesterday.
In a meeting with reporters, Bush said he did not advocate inclusion of British and French nuclear missiles in the U.S.-Soviet negotiations on intermediate-range forces in Europe.
The Soviet Union has demanded, against the strong opposition of the United States and its NATO allies, that the 162 British and French missiles be taken into account in the European nuclear balance.
To count the British and French weapons on the western side, as Moscow has demanded, would reduce the number of nuclear weapons the United States could deploy in western Europe under an equal forces arrangement with the Soviet Union.
"Somewhere along the line" the western European missile forces must be addressed and answers found if the hopes for arms reductions are to be realized, Bush said. He was unable to say how the problem should be handled or in which future negotiation, only that he believes it should be addressed.
"We can't negotiate for the British and French and we don't intend to dictate to them," Bush said.
The deployment of U.S. Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe before the end of the year--and the talks to stave this off through U.S.-Soviet negotiation--were among the topics Bush discussed on a recent trip to several eastern European countries.
Bush said he told his hosts that it is "a non-starter" to propose a delay in the scheduled U.S. missile deployment in order to give more time for negotiations.
He said he had made the point in Europe that there isn't any "give" in the U.S. position regarding the timetable for putting in the new weapons.