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Bulgaria/Slovakia: U.S. Seeks Removal Of Missiles

Washington, 19 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - The State Department says the U.S. has asked Bulgaria and Slovakia to get rid of Soviet-built medium range missiles and is offering to help those countries dismantle them.

Spokesman James Rubin said yesterday that the U.S. is asking Bulgaria and Slovakia as what he called friendly countries to join a missile non-proliferation effort.

The weapons involved are called SS-23 missiles and have a range of about 500 kilometers. In a 1987 treaty with the U.S., the former Soviet Union pledged to destroy these types of missiles on its territory, but some were transferred to Bulgaria, the former Czechoslovakia and the former East Germany. Germany and the Czech Republic dismantled SS-23s. However, unconfirmed press reports say Bulgaria still has eight SS-23 missiles and Slovakia has an unknown number.

Rubin says the elimination of weapons of mass destruction is a top priority of the United States.