]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]   GORBACHEV'S PLOY ON NUKE FUEL     [[[[[[[[[[[[[  
                         By Ken Adelman               (4/17/1989)
            (New York Post, 11 April 1989, p. 33:1)

            [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

   Here's a quiz for you:
   Name the world leader who  announced a cut in enriched uranium
production and added:
   ``We are shutting  down four plutonium  piles.  We are closing
many  non-essential military  installations.  And  it is  in this
spirit that we today call on our adversaries to do the same.''
   Mikhail Gorbachev, you guess?
   Wrong.  It  was Lyndon Johnson  speaking in his  1964 State of
the  Union Address.   And  since then,  for  these 25  years, the
United States produced no highly enriched uranium for weapons.
   But who noticed that?
   Everyone,  though,  noticed  Gorbachev  a  weekend  ago  as he
majestically announced that  his nation would  do much, much less
and much, much later.
   The  Soviet  Union,  he said,  will  shut  down  two plutonium
reactors  by 1990.   But he  failed  to mention  the eight  to 10
plutonium  reactors that  would  still be  operating.   Big deal,
since we have no plutonium reactors now operating.
   ``There he goes  again,'' Ronald Reagan  would say.  Gorbachev
sounding ``peace  loving'' by making  a grand  gesture on nuclear
matters about which most Western commentators know nothing.
   Indeed, our press  can portray an  empty Gorba-gesture as even
grander than Gorbachev himself.
   ``USSR to  Halt Uranium Production''  headlined the front-page
Washington  Post  story.   Even Gorbachev  did  not  claim  to be
halting  ALL  such  production, as  that  headline  implies; he's
merely closing two plants.
   Scant press play was given  to the Soviet's already possessing
gobs of materials to build bombs.
   Years back,  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn made  the keen observation
that American  headline-writers shape the  information the public
absorbs, yet they're not terribly good at getting it right.  This
Washington Post piece is a classic example.
   And  this  Gorbachev  speech is  a  classic  example  of ``old
thinking'' by a  Soviet leader.  It's  a return to bumper-sticker
arms control.
   Gorbachev  resorted  to  such a  ploy,  similarly  heralded by
headline-writers, back in January of 1986.  His ``mega-proposal''
advocated  the  total  elimination of  nuclear  weapons  in three
stages by the turn of the century.
   Actually,  this offer  was nearly  identical  to that  made by
Nikita Khruschev a quarter century earlier.
   In September 1959, Khruschev proposed eliminating all nukes --
and all conventional and chemical weapons, to boot -- likewise in
three stages.   As the  ultimate irony,  Khruschev's scheme would
have come to fruition in 1962, just when he was sneaking missiles
into Cuba.
   Nothing came  of Khruschev's ``mega-proposal''  then -- within
days  it  was  dismissed by  our  negotiators;  within  weeks, by
theirs, too -- but it did make a global splash.
   Similarly,  nothing  will,  or  should,  come  of  this newest
propaganda  ploy.   Reductions  in   the  production  of  weapons
material  cannot  be  adequately  verified,  especially  with the
advent of exotic ways of enrichment.
   Plus there's  the existing  imbalances --  our refraining from
any  highly enriched  uranium  production since  1964,  while the
Soviets continued producing all the  time, and the absence of any
U.S.  plutonium production  today, while  Russia will  still have
plants churning out the stuff even after Gorbachev's ``halt.''
   Obviously, Gorbachev is playing  on the anti-nuclear sentiment
sweeping Western Europe.
   Obviously, he's aware that nuclear  weapons are more vital for
Western security, given the East's still substantial conventional
lead.
   And obviously,  he's trying to  thwart the  needed start-up of
our materials production planned for 1991.
   Lately, Gorbachev has been a disappointment.  His latest deeds
and words should prompt anxiety rather than applause.
   For  he had  been on  a roll,  dealing seriously  with serious
security issues.   He had  acted in  earnest to  conclude the INF
accord  in   December  1987.   Next   December  came  Gorbachev's
promising announcement of unilateral arms cuts.
   These  were  real steps,  not  the usual  Soviet  arms control
hoaxes.
   Now  that's back.   And it  comes after  an appalling  lack of
``new  thinking''  on Soviet  mischief-making  in  our hemisphere
during Gorbachev's call on Castro.
   And after his  sale of advanced  supersonic Soviet fighters to
Libyan wildman Moammar  Kadafy -- fighters  able to strike Israel
and others around that sensitive region.
   So  where's the  kinder and  gentler  Gorbachev we've  come to
expect?
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