Atom Pact Riles Kiev Deputies

KIEV -- Opposition in Ukraine's parliament to an agreement to give up the country's nuclear arms stiffened Thursday as President Leonid Kravchuk prepared to sign the accord.

Even moderate deputies objected to the treaty, announced by U.S. President Bill Clinton earlier this week and hailed as a breakthrough for disarmament during talks at Kiev airport on Wednesday between Clinton and Kravchuk.

Prominent lawmakers said Thursday that they had not been told about the agreement -- which Kravchuk, Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin are due to sign Friday -- and accused Kravchuk of fanning confrontation with parliament.

The parliament finally ratified the START 1 arms treaty last November but said that it applied to only 42 percent of the more than 1,600 strategic warheads still on Ukrainian soil.

Ukrainian deputies said this week that they would oppose any attempt by Kravchuk to abandon these reservations. One Communist deputy even suggested this would be grounds for impeaching the president.

But under the deal announced by Clinton and Kravchuk, Ukraine would give up all its former Soviet-owned nuclear arms.

Bohdan Horyn, deputy head of parliament's foreign affairs commission said Kravchuk wanted to confront parliament less than three months before new parliamentary elections.

"This confrontation is very dangerous -- look at Russia's experience which ended in bloodshed," he said.