Secretary of State George P. Shultz and the U.S. negotiating team in the Geneva arms control talks said today that the American bargaining position will be seriously weakened if Congress refuses to finance the MX missile.
"This is no time to cast doubt on our national resolve," Shultz told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Shultz testified before the panel at the same time that President Reagan's chief arms control advisers and negotiators for the U.S.-Soviet talks were appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Congress will decide whether to continue funding for the 10-warhead intercontinental missile this spring, and an extremely close vote is forecast in both the House and Senate.
Bargaining Chips Wanted
Ambassador Max Kampelman, who will lead the three negotiators when the talks begin March 12, said, "It would be damaging to our negotiating position were the Congress not to fund the MX."
"As a negotiator, I would like to have as much on my side of the table as is practicable, responsible and reasonable to have," Kampelman said.
Similarly, Paul Nitze, Reagan's senior arms control adviser, said he believes Soviet awareness that the United States is going ahead with construction and installation of the MX in hardened silos was one of the principal reasons Moscow agreed to resume arms control negotiations after breaking them off more than a year ago.
Along with Reagan's "Star Wars" space defense plan and the unity among the United States and European nations on nuclear policy, Nitze said the MX "was another factor that brought them back."