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    Posted: 18 Apr 2024 at 1:50pm

A U.S.‐SOVIET BAN ON WEATHER USE FOR WAR IS NEAR


WASHINGTON, June 23—The United States and the Soviet Union have reached virtual agreement on the draft of an accord to outlaw techniques for changing the weather for military purposes, American officials said today.

The language of the document was worked out in discussions held in Geneva last week and is now being submitted to both governments for further study before final agreement can be announced. One senior official said that some minor disagreement remained.

American officials declined to make public the draft text, but they said it was couched in broad terms. They said it had been reasonably easy to negotiate because both sides were in philosophical agreement on the problem.

It is uncertain whether the agreement will be made public at the summer session of the Geneva conference of the Committee on Disarmament, where a ban on environmental warfare is on the agenda. The disarmament conference reconvenes tomorrow.


Signing at Summit Possible

It is possible that Moscow and Washington may decide to put off final agreement until the meeting between President Ford and Leonid I. Brezhnev, the Soviet Communist party leader, tentatively set for this fall in Washington.

The negotiations on maninduced weather changes arose from last year's meeting in Moscow between Mr. Brezhnev and President Richard M. Nixon.

In their final communiqué, the two leaders said that in an effort to “limit the potential danger to mankind from possible new means of warfare,” they had decided that the two countries should explore the problem.

The communiqué said that “scientific and technical advances in environmental fields, including climate modification, may open possibilities for using environmental modification techniques for military purposes.” These could have “widespread, long‐lasting and severe effects harmful to human welfare,” it said.

Little Current Activity

One American official said neither the Soviet Union nor the United States was apparently devoting much effort to environmental warfare at the present time. Therefore, he said, the purpose of the accord would be to head off a problem rather than limit current activity. He said it fell in the category of such preventive accords as the treaties that bar nuclear weapons from orbit around the earth and the seabed.

The main American advocate of an agreement banning environmental warfare has been Senator Claiborne Pell, Democrat of Rhode Island. He publicized a secret rain‐.making program in Indochina during the Vietnam war to increase normal monsoon rainfall and make North Vietnamese movements more difficult.

Mr. Pell succeeded in July. 1973, in inducing the Senate to vote 82 to 10 in favor of a resolution urging the Administration to seek a treaty banning environmental warfare.

Mr. Pell said today that he was pleased to hear that the Soviet Union and the United States were closer to an agreement. He has said that potentially dangerous environmental warfare could involve climate control by melting the polar ice, steering of hurricanes, manipulation of rainfall, and artificial inducement of earthquakes and tidal waves.

Advocates of the ban on environmental warfare have acknowledged that in some areas such as rain‐making, weather modification can serve peaceful purposes and that research in such fields should continue.

Mr. Pell said today that there could he tough questions on whether a particular action was peaceful or military. For instance, he said, artificial dispersion of fog from an airport could be peaceful, but if a country wanted to bomb that airport it was military.

Soviet interest in the ban on environmental warfare apparently arose in 1973 when Mr. Brezhnev visited Washington and was reported impressed by a conversation he had with Mr. Pell.

After last summer's summit session, the Soviet Union called for a ban on environmental warfare in the United Nations General Assembly, which referred it to the disarmament conference in Geneva.

The Soviet proposal was reportedly more specific than what is now being worked out by Moscow and Washington.

The delegations of the two sides are led by Thomas D. Davies, assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and Yevgeny K. Fedorov, director of the Soviet Institute of Applied Geophysics.

The delegations met for the first time last November in Moscow and the second round of talks was held in Washington from Feb. 24 to March 5. The latest round of discussions was held in Geneva from Monday to Friday and is in indefinite recess.

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