DeKalb officials talk about treaty

By Sean Noble

While many local authorities do not view Tuesday’s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty as militarily pivotal, most said it is an important first step in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Political science assistant Professor Daniel Kempton said, “I don’t think the INF Treaty is particularly critical, militarily. These weapons could be replaced by other weapons.”

The INF treaty, signed by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, was the highlight of Gorbachev’s three-day summit in Washington. It called for the elimination of 2,611 Soviet and U.S. missiles within three years of its ratification. All of the missiles covered by the 41-page treaty have a reach of 300 to 3,400 miles from their launch sites.

Kempton said the treaty has important political and psychological implications as a “step forward for setting future negotiations” with the Soviets.

James Banovetz, another political science professor, agreed.

“The weapons involved are an inconsequential arsenal, but advancements have to start with little steps,” he said.

Kempton said, “I don’t think either side really expected the other to accept the offerings at first. The United States only reached the point two or three years ago when Reagan was confident enough to make a serious move like this.”

DeKalb County Clerk Terry Desmond, also a public administration instructor, said he was impressed by Reagan’s willingness to stand up to some conservative advisory staff members who warned against the treaty. Desmond said this was the “most direct” dialogue the president had undertaken since assuming office.

DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow said he thought the treaty might have been “too little, too late for the Reagan administration.” He said he thought Reagan should have sought such an agreement much earlier in his term.

Sparrow said the United States probably will spend more on conventional weapons in Western Europe now that so many nuclear weapons will be eliminated.

Issues not directly related to the INF treaty might have some influence on its ratification, Kempton said. He said, “The real issue is what should happen if, for example, the Soviets became involved somewhere else or if the U.S. heightened its involvement in Nicaragua.” Kempton said, however, chances of the treaty’s approval are very good.

Banovetz said the United States must continue to show “its willingness to meet the Soviets halfway” in future arms negotiations.

Desmond said, “Right now, I’m just watching and hoping like everyone else.”