Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger told the NATO allies once again Friday that President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative will not be given up in any arms control pact with the Soviet Union at Geneva.
At a nuclear planning meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization defense ministers in the northern Bavarian city of Wuerzburg, Weinberger said that the initiative, a research program widely known as "Star Wars," is "one of the very highest priorities of our government."
He also said Washington will not accept a ban on nuclear weapons testing because testing is necessary as long as the West relies on atomic weapons and until a defensive umbrella can be provided.
The initiative, he went on, "is not a bargaining chip. It will not be set aside in response to any demand in connection with any arms control agreement."
The Kremlin, which strongly opposes any kind of space-based weapons research by the West, has said that arms control accords at Geneva could be arrived at more readily if the United States would scrap the "Star Wars" program.
In a statement issued at the end of the two-day meeting, the 14 NATO defense ministers expressed strong support for the U.S. position at the Geneva arms control talks. Several European ministers reportedly indicated support for a nuclear test ban, if such a ban could be verified, but there was no reported debate with the U.S. delegation on this issue.
Much of the discussion centered on American briefings on the progress being made in developing "Star Wars" technology and on ways to develop defenses against shorter-range missiles.