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West Germans Urged to Match East German Missile Rollback

February 17, 1988

BONN, West Germany (AP) _ West Germany’s main opposition party pressured the government Wednesday to follow Moscow’s lead and scrap some nuclear missiles before a U.S.-Soviet missile treaty goes into effect.

Hermann Scheer, disarmament expert for the opposition Social Democrats, said Chancellor Helmut Kohl should respond to the early Soviet missile reductions by dismantling West Germany’s 72 Pershing 1A missiles.

″Such a reaction would be equal to developing trust in disarmament which the leadership in East Berlin has been working toward with the Soviets,″ Scheer, speaking on behalf of the party, told reporters.

East Germany’s state-run news agency, ADN, reported Tuesday that the Soviet Union had dismantled SS-12 nuclear missiles in Waren, an East German site about 90 miles northwest of Berlin.

The SS-12s are included in a U.S.-Soviet agreement to eliminate the superpowers’ medium- and shorter-range missiles.

Kohl announced before the superpower pact was signed that West Germany would scrap its Pershing 1A missiles as part of a new treaty. The Pershing 1A missiles are owned by West Germany, but the United States controls the rockets’ nuclear warheads.

On Wednesday, East German newspapers printed photos of dismantled missiles and hailed the Soviet preparations for removing the SS-12s before the treaty is ratified.

″Soviet missile troops preparing withdrawal from (East Germany),″ the Communist party’s official newspaper New Germany said in a banner headline.

President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed the treaty in Washington last December. The agreement stipulates that the Soviets’ shorter-range missiles in East Germany and in Czechoslovakia are to be removed within 18 months and medium-range U.S. and Soviet missiles within three years.

Three Senate committees are debating the treaty and ratification may come during the summer. The Supreme Soviet, the Soviet Union’s parliament, is expected to approve the accord.

In Washington, the State Department had no immediate reaction to the report. But a U.S. official who demanded anonymity said the Soviets were free to remove their missiles before the treaty takes effect.

The official said U.S. inspectors will go to East Germany and all other Soviet missile sites to verify compliance with the treaty if it is ratified.

ADN did not say how many missiles had been dismantled or when they would be returned to the Soviet Union, only that Soviet soldiers ″are making the last preparations to return their SS-12 rockets.

″With this step we can make an important contribution toward disarmament even before the treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union is ratified,″ ADN wrote.

East German leader Erich Honecker said in January that Soviet intermediate- ra nge rockets based in his country could be removed ahead of schedule, but at the time gave no specific timetable.

According to figures released after the treaty was signed, 22 rockets, 12 launchers, nine transport vehicles and seven practice missiles were stationed at Waren, which has the largest numbers of SS-12s in East Germany. There are three other SS-12 sites in the country.

The Soviet Union also has shorter-range SS-23 nuclear missiles based in East Germany.

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