The United States and the Soviet Union will consult regularly on a common effort to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, spokesmen for both countries said today.
U.S. and Soviet delegations met this week for the fourth time since 1982 on the issue of nuclear nonproliferation, and, according to a U.S. official, the last round of talks produced a "more focused, more precise" approach to the problem of limiting nuclear weapons to the five countries that already have them.
At a press briefing today, Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Lomeiko said that an understanding was reached to hold regular consultations. "We hope that joint efforts by states interested in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons will yield positive results and will ultimately lead to the nonproliferation treaty becoming universal," he said.
Today's announcement means that meetings that have been going on between the two countries for the past two years will be conducted on a regular basis. The nonproliferation issue is not directly connected to U.S.-Soviet talks on arms control.
The United States and the Soviet Union announced last week that Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko will meet in Geneva in January to discuss establishing new arms talks between the two countries. These are expected to focus on strategic and intermediate-range nuclear weapons as well as on the issue of weapons in outer space. There have been no arms control talks since the Soviets walked out of meetings in Geneva last year.
The U.S. official said both countries share a common concern about controls in the increasing number of countries that supply nuclear materials such as plutonium, updating safeguards to deal with advanced technology and enhancing the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Both countries also are making a "major effort" to get other countries to sign the international Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, he said.
Five countries -- the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France and China -- now deploy nuclear weapons, and a sixth, India, has the technology. Other nations believed to have or be close to having nuclear-weapons capability are Israel and South Africa. Argentina and Pakistan have nuclear programs and are believed to be seeking nuclear-weapons technology.