Lawmakers Ask President to Halt A-Test, Join in Ban

Associated Press

More than 50 congressmen and senators on Friday urged President Reagan to cancel a nuclear test scheduled for today in Nevada and accept the Soviet Union's offer of a joint test ban.

"We're here to say stop. For God's sake, stop, Mr. President," Rep. Berkley Bedell (D-Iowa) said at a press conference given by legislators who signed a letter to Reagan.

"We have a golden opportunity, if we are prepared to seize it, to stop nuclear weapons testing on this planet, to send a loud and clear signal to the rest of the world that we are prepared to do it," Rep. Thomas Downey (D-N.Y.) said.

He said there would be a "public relations catastrophe" if the test proceeded.

Leaders of the effort said about 50 House members signed the letter, along with five senators.

No White House Response

There was no immediate response from the White House.

Beverly Keen of the Energy Department said today's test would be in the range of 20-to-150 kilotons but declined to disclose any other information.

The Soviet Union last August imposed a unilateral moratorium on nuclear weapons testing to last until Dec. 31. On Jan. 15, the deadline was extended to March 31, and on March 13 the Kremlin said it would continue the test ban until the United States conducted a test of its own.

House Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-Tex.) said the United States would appear "intractable and unwilling to meet the joint responsibility for peace" if it did not accept the moratorium offer.

Scramble for Signatures

Downey said members of Congress learned of the new test only Thursday night and had to scramble for signatures Friday. Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) was the only Republican to sign, but Downey said there would have been others had there been more time.

Opponents of the test argued that U.S. testing has been more frequent and more sophisticated than Soviet testing, and that U.S. nuclear warheads are more advanced. They said continued testing by both nations would only serve to let the Soviet Union catch up.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) and Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) introduced legislation Friday cutting off funds for all nuclear warhead testing for as long as the Soviets do not test. Cranston said they will try to attach it to an appropriations bill.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World