[Helmut Kohl] has favored short-range nuclear disarmament talks since 1986, but, partly under pressure from [Hans-Dietrich Genscher], he has sought this spring to push that stance more forcefully within the alliance. The shift reflects both Kohl's sensitivity to West German public opinion, which strongly favors reducing short-range nuclear arsenals, and Kohl's proclaimed desire to assert German interests.
Defense Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg, scheduled to arrive in Washington Wednesday for three days of talks on the short-range nuclear dispute, accused Genscher of doing too little to calm the troubles within the alliance. Stoltenberg, a member of Kohl's Christian Democrats, said [Bonn] had to take seriously U.S. fears that short-range nuclear talks could lead to removal of a vital, short-range "rung" in NATO's "ladder" of nuclear deterrence stretching up to long-range, intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Such squabbles are a fact of life for Kohl's fractious coalition, but the recent conservative rhetoric has been unusually sharp and illustrates the political sensitivity here to fights with Washington. Traffic Minister Friedrich Zimmermann-a leader of Kohl's right-wing junior coalition partner, the Christian Social Union-charged that Genscher secretly favors scrapping all short-range nuclear weapons. "If one looks Genscher in the eyes, one knows that he's lying" when he says he favors keeping such arms, Zimmermann was quoted as saying Sunday.
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