"............ after years of economic sanctions on Belgrade for its role in fomenting Serb rebellions in Croatia and Bosnia. "

[ while Roman Catholics and Moslems were angels .... JP ]

From ......... Associated Press

December 20, 1996

By GEORGE JAHN ....... AP Writer

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Yugoslavia has destroyed dozens more tanks than required before an arms control deadline -- but many were already little more than scrap, arms negotiators say.

Many of the 240 tanks destroyed so far were World War II-vintage, Soviet-made T-34s, and junking them merely helps Yugoslavia's image without affecting its military power, foreign military officials and diplomats supervising the arms reduction said Friday.

The arms control treaty signed in June in the wake of the Bosnian war obliges Serbia and tiny Montenegro, which make up what's left of Yugoslavia, to scrap 80 tanks by Dec. 31.

Arms negotiators emphasized that while the Yugoslavs were ahead of schedule, they had not exceeded overall obligations.

Yugoslavia is committed to scrap about 500 tanks in the 16-month period that began July 1, a senior European military official said.

As an incentive to Yugoslavia, the United States promised up to $2 million if they kept to schedules on the tanks, with an installment of about $900,000 due by Dec. 31.

That money is still to be paid. But the officials were skeptical of a report Friday in The New York Times that it was being withheld to demonstrate U.S. displeasure with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his showdown with pro-democracy demonstrators.

They pointed out that the deadline for the payment was still nearly two weeks off. And one suggested that the main problem was likely red tape still snarling money transfers after years of economic sanctions on Belgrade for its role in fomenting Serb rebellions in Croatia and Bosnia.

Croatia is also on schedule in destroying heavy weapons laid out by the agreement.

The other parties are lagging, however.

Vigleik Eide, the Norwegian diplomat overseeing the process on behalf of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, accused the Bosnian Serbs last month of wanting to keep an "abnormally high" number of weapons.

And he said the shaky Muslim-Croat federation sharing Bosnia with the Serbs is behind because each of the two groups in the federation wants the weapons to be scrapped from the other's stockpiles.

By the end of the year, the parties are to destroy, export or put on public display 40 percent of artillery and aircraft and 20 percent of tanks and armored vehicles.