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Reagan Warns of Soviet Propaganda in Response to SALT II Decision With PM-Defense Spending Bjt

August 6, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Reagan says the Soviet Union is waging a propaganda campaign against his decision to abandon the SALT II arms treaty and will likely claim that any nuclear buildup is a response to the U.S. action.

But Reagan, in a report to Congress Tuesday, argued that abandonment of the treaty will not necessarily trigger a big buildup in nuclear weapons by the Kremlin.

Even with the SALT limits intact, the Soviet Union could add 2,000 nuclear missile warheads and bombs to its arsenal over the next five years, bringing the total of deployed weapons to 12,000, the president said.

″Moreover, by further violating the agreements, the Soviets could plausibly add in the same time period a relatively modest increase of even more weapons to their forces,″ Reagan said.

While saying it was difficult to predict Soviet plans in the absence of SALT limits, Reagan said ″they would not necessarily expand their forces significantly beyond″ the 2,000-weapon increase already envisioned. Such an increase, he said, ″would appear, in our judgment, more than enough to meet reasonable military requirements.

″Thus, there might well be little appreciable difference, in terms of total weapons, between the forces that the Soviets might deploy with and without SALT constraints,″ Reagan said.

On May 27, Reagan accused the Soviet Union of persistent violations of SALT and announced that the United States no longer would be bound by the limits of the treaty. At the same time, he kept the United States in technical compliance with the pact by ordering the dismantling of two Poseidon submarines.

In response, Moscow accused Reagan of aggravating the arms race and warned that if the SALT limits are scrapped, it would ″take the necessary practical steps to prevent the military-strategic parity from being upset.″

In his report, Reagan noted the Soviet response and said, ″They have already leveled a propaganda campaign against the (SALT) decision.″

He said that despite Moscow’s warning, ″it is not at all clear that they would further expand their forces beyond the increases already planned ... However, they are likely to portray any expansion, including that already planned, as a response to U.S. actions.″

Reagan said Moscow has the potential to expand its forces to about 15,000 weapons by 1991 ″should they decide to do so for either military or political reasons.″ He added that ″the costs associated with such an expansion of capability, on top of an already very aggressive and expensive modernization program, would be a disincentive against any such Soviet effort.

″With or without SALT, the Soviets are in any case likely to modernize their intercontinental nuclear attack forces further by replacing most of their currently deployed land and sea-based ballistic missiles and heavy bombers by the mid-1990s,″ Reagan said.

He said that ″this impressive Soviet modernization program ... has been in train for a long time.″

Without the SALT treaty, Reagan said the Soviets would not dismantle all their aging nuclear systems as quickly as they would with the treaty. However, he said ″many of these older systems would have relatively little impact on the overall threat to U.S. security.″

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