Ceausescu Announces Troop, Weapons Cuts
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ President Nicolae Ceausescu has announced the military will be cut by 10,000 men under a plan to reduce military spending, the state-run Agerpres news agency reported Saturday.
Ceausescu, addressing a rally in Bucharest on Friday evening, also said that 250 tanks and armored cars will be withdrawn from service, along with 130 cannons and mine launchers and 26 fighter planes and helicopters.
He announced plans on Sept. 9 to cut military spending by 5 percent, but this was the first time he gave precise figures of troop and weapons reductions. Romania’s armed forces number about 140,000 military personnel.
Ceausescu said the plan will reduce military spending in 1987 by 1.35 billion lei, or about $122 million at the official exchange rate.
The plan is to be submitted Sunday to an unprecedented popular referendum, but its passage is assured in a society tightly controlled by the governing Communist Party. Ceausescu also heads the party.
Romania’s parliament, the 369-member Grand National Assembly, already approved the plan on Oct. 24. At the same time it amended the country’s constitution to introduce a provision for the referendum.
In his speech, Ceausescu said Romania was taking a unilateral initiative in making military cuts and urged other nations to follow suit. He said the huge amounts spent on weapons should be used to improve the quality of life.
Romanians are struggling through a severe austerity program imposed by the government in an effort to repay its foreign debt, now estimated at $6 billion. Disarmament is a favorite theme of Ceausescu, who sometimes takes an independent line from Kremlin policies. He has criticized both the United States and the Soviet Union for building up their arsenals, and has vowed to make Romania an example of disarmament.
He failed at an Oct. 14 conference to win Warsaw Pact approval for his arms reduction plans.
In his speech Friday, Ceausescu also expressed support for Soviet arms reduction proposals put forward at the Oct. 11-12 summit in Iceland between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
He called for more cooperation among European nations to halt the arms race and said efforts must be intensified toward reducing conventional weapons by 25 percent by 1990 and 50 percent by the end of the century.