Senior U.S. arms negotiators warned emphatically yesterday against attempts by liberals and conservatives in the Senate to link the new U.S.-Soviet nuclear weapons treaty to broader military and arms-control issues.
Such provisos could delay implementation of the pending Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and divert energies from negotiations to reduce strategic nuclear forces, negotiators Max M. Kampelman and Maynard W. Glitman warned in the second day of Foreign Relations Committee hearings on the INF pact.
Their warnings came as most Democrats and Republicans on the committee teamed up with the negotiators to squelch criticism from Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) that the INF Treaty would destroy missiles while leaving their nuclear warheads, including fissionable material and guidance systems, available for use on other weapons.
A "red herring," said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.). A "crimson whale," added Sen. Daniel J. Evans (R-Wash.), contending that it takes more than a "pile of powder and a bullet" to make a weapon.
Responding to Helms' contention that it is the warhead that "goes boom and kills people," Kampelman noted wryly that "they don't go boom by themselves . . . . It's very hard to pick up this nuclear warhead and throw it at someone."
The nuclear explosive section of the missile was exempted from destruction for a variety of reasons, including reluctance of U.S. as well as Soviet officials to expose their most secret weaponry to each other during joint verification procedures, Kampelman said.
Helms, who has attempted to upstage treaty proponents with a barrage of charges against the pact, was not deterred. Hardly missing a beat, he moved on to a new charge that as nuclear material is removed from the missiles and retained in some fashion it would enlarge nuclear stockpiles.
"He's now created a stockpile gap," exclaimed Biden. "We've created a scrap-iron gap too," added Glitman, trying to emphasize the importance of scrapping the missiles as opposed to warheads. In a gentle gibe, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) suggested that concern over nuclear stockpiles used to be a preoccupation of liberals, not conservatives such as Helms.
At another point, Biden suggested that Helms, in his concern over expanding nuclear stockpiles, was making a powerful case for the push by Biden and other liberals to impose interim restraints on strategic weapon deployments during START negotiations on reduction of long-range nuclear arsenals. Helms said he was "astounded" at Biden's logic.
It was Biden's push for stop-gap strategic-force limits -- as well as a proposal from Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) to tie INF reductions to a strengthening of the relative balance of NATO and Warsaw Pact conventional forces -- that prompted warnings against "linkage" from the negotiators.
Although Senate leaders expect the treaty to win the two-thirds vote necessary for ratification, many treaty proponents fear that conditions on popular issues may be adopted by a simple majority vote in a way that could torpedo or at least complicate implementation of the INF reductions.
"Having prevailed in our successful negotiating approach in Geneva, you can perhaps understand why we are reluctant to see the reintroduction of linkage as part of the ratification process," said Kampelman in reference to earlier Soviet efforts to tie INF reductions to concessions on President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative and other issues.
In response to Biden's proposal for interim strategic limits, Kampelman said that with problems over verification and other issues, it could delay rather than expedite strategic arms reductions. Instead, he said, the United States and Soviet Union should "concentrate our energies" on achieving a START agreement by the middle of this year, noting there is no guarantee the Soviets would agree to interim restraints in any case.
Biden had argued that such restraints were necessary to prevent the Soviets from using nuclear materials and devices that would be stockpiled under the INF accord to strengthen its strategic forces aimed at the United States.
As for Pressler's proposal, Kampelman said that negotiations over conventional arms reductions "would take years," and linkage of INF and conventional-force reductions would mean the INF pact "would not be put into practice for quite some time."
Any such INF amendment dealing with the conventional arms issue would be "highly unfortunate," said the negotiator.
In their testimony, Kampelman and Glitman repeated earlier administration assurances that verification and compliance procedures are sufficient to ward off Soviet cheating. The treaty's verification regime "dramatically reduces the possibilities of maintaining a militarily useful covert INF missile force and serves as a deterrent to cheating," said Glitman.
Acknowledging the United States has had complaints about Soviet compliance with past treaties, Kampelman said, "The United States, mindful of previous difficulties over the Soviet record of noncompliance with previous arms control agreements, must be vigilant in its monitoring of Soviet compliance with the INF Treaty."
Safeguards written into the treaty reflect "wariness on our part" over Soviet compliance as well as efforts to prevent ambiguities from arising in connection with the INF compliance by both countries, Kampelman said.
In a related hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, former defense secretary James R. Schlesinger, in supporting the treaty, said the INF pact "on balance should have a favorable impact on the military security of the Western world."
If carried out, he said, the Soviets would give up 1,600 nuclear warheads compared with 400 for the United States.
"This 4-to-1 ratio is a remarkable achievement; quite astonishing in light of prior Soviet behavior in negotiations and probably quite implausible to those American officials who proposed the Zero Option in 1981," he said.
The Soviets appear to have an inordinate fear of the Pershing II ground-based missiles in West Germany, Schlesinger observed. Those missiles would be scrapped under the INF Treaty.
During yesterday's hearings, Sen. Gordon J. Humphrey (R-N.H.) issued a statement complaining that the panels' witnesses "seem to be stacked in favor of the INF Treaty."
Meanwhile, the conservative-led effort outside of Congress to defeat the treaty intensified as conservative activist Richard Viguerie announced formation of a group called "Americans Against Appeasement" to campaign by direct mail, telephone and commercials and circulate a weekly newsletter entitled "Peace in Our Time," featuring a weekly "Apostle of Appeasement Award." Staff writer George C. Wilson contributed to this report.