BUDAPEST, Hungary -- The Soviet Union stored nuclear warheads in Hungary with the consent of the Communist Party chief Janos Kadar until Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to their removal about four years ago, a newspaper reported Monday.
In an interview published Monday by Nepszabadsag, former Prime Minister and Communist Party General Secretary Karoly Grosz said he learned about the presence of the warheads from the Soviet and Hungarian military leaders after his appointment as Prime Minister in 1987.
'I paid a visit to Moscow shortly after, and I asked Secretary General Gorbachev to remove them,' he was quoted as saying. 'He promised to do so.'
Grosz, who claimed no knowledge of specifics about the quality and quantity of such weapons, said that while he was with Gorbachev, the Soviet leader telephoned the responsible Soviet minister and ordered him to honor Grosz's request.
At the meeting, Grosz said, he urged the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Hungary as a first step in Soviet troop withdrawals. He said Gorbachev readily accepted his argument that the ability of Soviet troops in Hungary to deploy such weapons without Budapest's knowledge could harm the nation's national dignity.
The weapons were removed over the next year, Grosz said.
Grosz said he also hass een a document which had been signed by Kadar when he was first secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party authorizing the presence of nuclear weapons in Hungary. He said he did not know when they were brought to Hungary or the exact time of their removal.
He also said the Soviets intended to withdraw their troops in 1957 after they had successfully crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956, but Kadar insisted that they stay to bolster his government.
As Kadar's grip on power loosened in the 1980s, Grosz was appointed as the first reform Communist Prime Minister in 1987 and elected Communist Party Secretary General a year later. Kadar was relegated to the largely ceremonial post of party president in 1988, a year before he died.
Grosz eventually lost the support of his fellow reform Communists for what they considered still largely hard-line views. He did not join the Socialist Party formed by the reformists to replace the Communist Party in October 1989.