Judge Refuses to Block Test of ASAT Weapon
A federal judge today refused to block Friday’s scheduled first test of an anti-satellite weapon’s ability to knock out a target in space.
After 30 minutes of oral arguments, U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson denied a request by four House Democrats and the Union of Concerned Scientists for a temporary restraining order to halt the test.
Johnson said the issue raised was “a political question that should not be decided in this forum,” adding that the plaintiffs will not be irreparably harmed “by what they speculate will take place.”
The four House members and the scientists asked the federal court on Tuesday to block the test on the ground that President Reagan had falsely certified to Congress that he was trying in good faith to negotiate curbs on such arms.
Case Called ‘Frivolous’
The government called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said the test is necessary to win a U.S.-Soviet treaty to ban space weapons.
The Administration also maintained that “these plaintiffs . . . state no more than a generalized grievance shared by the population at large. They have alleged no concrete, personal injury that would entitle them to pursue this action.”
The lawmakers who filed the suit are Reps. George E. Brown Jr. (D-Riverside), Joe Moakley (D-Mass.), John F. Seiberling (D-Ohio) and Matthew F. McHugh (D-N.Y.).
Kenneth Adelman, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, told Congress on Wednesday that “testing can constitute an incentive to the Soviet Union to reach agreements on a wide range of issues and thus would not impair prospects for a successful conclusion to the negotiations now under way.”
Talks in Geneva
The two superpowers are now engaged in talks in Geneva on a wide range of arms control topics, including space weapons.
But the United States hasn’t made a specific proposal on anti-satellite, or ASAT, weapons, saying it can’t find a way to eliminate the possibility of cheating on such a pact.
“We have been unable, to date, to identify a specific ASAT proposal which meets the requirements identified by the Congress in 1984 that any agreement be verifiable and consistent with U.S. national security,” Adelman told the House Foreign Affairs arms control subcommittee.