BORNE-SULINOWO, Poland -- A Soviet general preparing to withdraw his troops from Poland said Monday that the Kremlin kept nuclear warheads on Polish soil until 1990.
Gen. Viktor Dubynin, commander-in-chief of the Soviet troops stationed in Poland, made the revelation at a news conference the day before the pullout was to begin with the departure of a 1,200-member rocket unit.
'Over there, where the rocket units stayed, there were nuclear warheads,' Dubynin told reporters gathered for the first big pullout of Soviet troops since World War II. 'They were removed in the middle of 1990.'
Dubynin said the removal took place as the result of the positive changes that occurred in the last couple of years in both Eastern and Western Europe. But he was not clear on whether the Polish army was empowered to use the nuclear warheads in case of war.
He said that in the nearby Sypniewo installation, two underground bunkers built by Poles, storage facilities were prepared for the special weapons.
'There were storage spaces for nuclear warheads for the Polish army, ' he said. 'They were also removed.'
The Polish public was never informed of the presence of nuclear weapons on its territory. Only in the past few weeks have speculative articles appeared in the Polish press suggesting the presence of the weapons.
Borne-Sulinowo is a huge military complex with some 30,000 soldiers and their families south of Szczecin, the northwest Baltic Polish port. It covers an area of almost 100,000 acres.
Dubynin described the early withdrawal as a goodwill gesture as it was taking place before a scheduled agreement on the withdrawal of the 50,000 Soviet troops from Poland is signed by Warsaw and Moscow.
'The pullout begins April 9 and it will be completed by 1993,' he said. 'The final date for pullout will be fixed by the political leadership of the two countries.'
President Lech Walesa is expected to set the final withdrawal date during his trip to the Soviet Union, planned for next month. The Poles had been insisting on the withdrawal of all troops by the end of 1991.
Dubynin said financial issues were the most controversial during the six rounds of negotiations so far between Warsaw and Moscow, and he accused Poland of asking too high a price for transport of the withdrawing troops.
He said Poland wanted $220 for the transit of each truckload of troops or equipment and more than $1,500 per railroad car. He said the excessive bill presented to Moscow for the transit of Soviet troops from Eastern Germany through Poland prompted Moscow to move its troops by air and sea instead.
'Poland could have had millions of dollars in its pocket,' he said. 'You see how Poland wanted to use economic sanctions against us.'