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‘VISION OF STARS WARS’ : DOCUMENTARY CLAIMS SDI FLAWS

A documentary airing on public television next week exposes in unusually great detail what critics say are flaws in the Reagan Administration’s proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, the so-called “Star Wars " defense system.

In examining the political and scientific implications of the proposed system, the documentary also suggests strongly that the administration is deceiving the public and Congress with its claims about the system’s reliability.

The two-hour program, “Vision of Star Wars,” is scheduled to be broadcast Tuesday on the Public Broadcasting Service. A combined undertaking of public television’s “Nova” and “Frontline” series, it will be seen in Southern California at 8 p.m. on Channels 28, 15 and 50.

“We certainly expect the people at SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) to be anxious,” co-producer Graham Chedd said by telephone from Boston, referring to potential reaction to the program, which was produced at public TV station WGBH.

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The documentary covers a broad range of political and scientific opinion, including that of one of the system’s most fervent proponents, Dr. Edward Teller. However, it concludes that, contrary to administration claims, a perfect “Star Wars” defense is impossible to achieve, and that whatever new, space-based defense system is plausible could only be implemented with “totally unpredictable consequences.”

Typical of the many on-camera interviews is one with an employee at California’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory--Teller’s own base of operations--who states matter of factly that “no one here” (at the laboratory) expects to see a “Star Wars” defense system come about, but that “we welcome the employment.”

Another academic researcher acknowledges on camera that his institution has applied for “Star Wars” research funds merely to keep alive nuclear exploration on campus.

“We found that it is easy to get caught up, almost seduced by the romance of the (‘Star Wars’) technology,” Chedd said of his work on the documentary. “But when you step back, you are caught up by the realization of all the improbabilities, the costs and the consequences.”

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