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NATO Commander Rejects ‘Zero Option’ For Europe

November 19, 1986

MUNICH, West Germany (AP) _ An East-West deal to eliminate medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe would endanger Western Europe, the supreme NATO commander in Europe, U.S. Army Gen. Bernard W. Rogers, said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Hans Seidl Institute, a conservative research foundation in Munich, Rogers said the so-called ″zero option″ would leave NATO in a worse position than in the 1970s, before the alliance decided to deploy medium-range missiles in Western Europe.

President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev discussed the possible elimination of medium-range weapons from Europe during their summit in Iceland last month. They failed to reach an agreement because of a deadlock over the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, or ″Star Wars.″

Rogers said getting rid of medium-range missiles would bring a ″considerable risk″ to Western Europe because the Warsaw Pact has more short-range nuclear missiles and conventional forces.

″I think the risk in this instance would be on the backs of those of us who live in Western Europe,″ he said.

He said the Soviets were only willing to talk about missile reductions because NATO is now in a position of strength in Europe.

Rogers made a similar warning over the weekend in Istanbul, Turkey, at a meeting of NATO’s political and military committees.

His deputy commander, West German Gen. Hans-Joachim Mack, said Monday that keeping U.S. medium-range nuclear missiles on European soil was of ″paramount importance″ for the region’s security.

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