Reagan imposes sanctions against Soviets

HELEN THOMAS, UPI White House Reporter

LOS ANGELES -- Accusing the Soviet Union of 'heavy and direct' responsibility for the Polish situation, President Reagan retaliated with seven economic sanctions against Moscow Tuesday and warned he is ready to take still harsher steps.

In a two-page written statement sharply critical of the Soviet leadership, the president served notice that the future of Soviet-American relations lies in the hands of Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev.


'We will watch events in Poland closely in coming days and weeks,' Reagan said. 'Further steps may be necessary and I will be prepared to take them. American decisions will be determined by Soviet actions.'

Effective immediately, Reagan said, the United States will:

-Suspend all flights to the United States by the Soviet airline Aeroflot.

-Close the Soviet purchasing commmission in the United States.

-Suspend the issuance or renewal of licenses for the export to the Soviet Union of electronic equipment, computers and other high technology materials.

-Postpone negotiations on a new long-term agreement to sell U.S. grain to the Soviets.

-Suspend negotiations on a new U.S.-Soviet maritime agreement and impose new port-access controls for all Soviet ships when a current agreement expires Thursday.

-Require licensing for export to the Soviet Union for an expanded list of oil and gas equipment while suspending the issuance of such licenses, including pipelayers.


-Refuse to renew U.S.-Soviet exchange agreements coming up for renewal in the near future, including agreements on energy and science and technology and all other U.S.-Soviet exchange agreements will be reviewed.

Although the sanctions were perhaps the toughest imposed on the Soviet Union since the Cold War of the 1950s, they stopped short of such extreme measures as a full-scale trade embargo or cancellation of the Geneva talks on the limitation of intermediate range nuclear arms in Europe.

A senior administration official said the meeting between Secretary of State Alexander Haig and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in Geneva scheduled for Jan. 26 'is now under review.'

But he said that 'under present conditions,' the United States plans to resume the arms reduction talks, now in recess until Jan. 12.

'We are prepared to proceed in whatever direction the Soviet Union decides upon -- towards greater mutual restraint and cooperations or further down a harsh and less rewarding path,' Reagan said.

Reagan acted six days after he announced in a nationally broadcast address to Americans that he was suspending Poland's commercial aviation and fishing rights in U.S. territory and refusing the credit it insurance Warsaw needs to make purchases in the United States.


At the same time, the president said he had written to Brezhnev warning he was prepared to impose economic and political sanctions on Moscow if the crackdown that began with the imposition of martial law Dec. 13 continues.

'The Soviet Union bears a heavy and direct responsibility for the repression in Poland,' Reagan said in the statement issued Tuesday.

'For many months, the Soviets publicly and privately demanded such a crackdown. They brought major pressures to bear through now-public letters to the Polish leadership, military maneuvers and other forms of intimidation,' he said. 'They now openly endorse the supression which has ensued.'

Reagan referred to his letter to Brezhnev urging the Soviet leader to ease pressure on Poland and to adhere to the human rights provision of the 35-nation Helsinki accords that both the Soviet Union and Poland signed in 1975.

The president said he warned the Soviet leader that the United States had no choice but to take further economic and political measures against Moscow if the repression continued.

But, Reagan said, the response that the White House received from Brezhnev Friday 'makes it clear the Soviet Union does not understand the seriousness of our concern, and its obligations under both the Helsinki Final Act and the U.N. Charter.'


The president did not completely close the door on an improved relationship with the Soviets. He said the United States desires 'constructive and mutually beneficial relations' with Moscow and 'we intend to maintain a high-level dialogue.'

And he appealed to the Soviets 'to recognize the clear desire of the overwhelming majority of the Polish people for a process of national reconciliation, renewal and reform.'

Reagan reported that Haig has informed the Western allies of the actions, but he gave no indication whether they have offered any support.

At the State Department, a senior official said the United States has asked its allies to take parallel action 'or at least not to undermine what we have done,' but the allies have not yet come forward with their announced actions.

The official said the United States is considering invoking a NATO agreement that provides for the 15 foreign ministers to be called together in emergency session to discuss alliance-wide actions.

The official said the president's sanctions are 'moderate and measured' in relation to the Soviet actions in Poland, but they concentrate on the Soviet oil and gas industry, which are regarded as a weak and therefore vulnerable sector of the Soviet economy.


The ban on exports will force cancellation of a deal in which the Caterpillar Co. of Peoria, Ill., contracted to sell the Soviets 200 pipelaying tractors at a cost of $200 million.

A spokesman for Caterpillar said that the machines do not involve high technology and the Soviets already have 'thousands' of the machines, made both in the United States and Japan.

Reviewing the president's sanctions, U.S. officials said:

-The cancellation of Aeroflot's privileges will involve two flights per week between Moscow and Washington's Dulles International Airport. There are no scheduled U.S. flights to the Soviet Union at present.

-The closing of the Soviet Purchasing Commission, which handles about one-third of the Soviet purchases of U.S. equipment, will make Soviet shopping in the U.S. markets more difficult but not impossible.

-The grain agreements, including a deal for an extra 23 million tons of grain to make up the Soviet shortfall in this year's harvest, already have been signed and will go forward. But negotiations on a new agreement to start in September 1982 will not take place 'under present conditions.'

-Measures such as the cancellation of the pipelayer contract will make construction of a Soviet natural gas pipeline to Western Europe 'somewhat more difficult but will not prevent it' from being built. The United State has opposed the pipeline for fear it will make Western Europe too dependent on Soviet energy.


-The ban on electronic technology will broaden restrictions which imposed in January 1980 in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It will be general, rather than limited to the higher ranges of computer and electronic technology.

-Soviet ships, which now can call in 40 U.S. ports without any special permission, now will have to apply 14 days in advance before making such stops, and U.S. officials will be inclined against grnating such permission.

-Among joint U.S.-Soviet scientific agreements to be canceled is one on cooperation in space and in energy research.

Speaking earlier as he signed 35 pieces of legislation at his hotel, Reagan said the United States does not intend to 'increase the hardship on the victims of repression' and the 'flow of food and medicine and other necessities' will continue to 'the Polish people - not the government.'

'By our actions,' he said, reading from prepared notes, 'we expect to put powerful doubts in the minds of Soviet and Polish leaders about this continued repression.'

Reagan said he is taking the new steps in order 'to speak for those who have been silenced and to help those who have been rendered helpless.'

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