SALT Compliance ‘Over,’ Shultz Says : Weinberger Declares U.S. Will Oppose Long-Term Commitment to ABM Pact
Two Cabinet officers declared flatly Sunday that the Reagan Administration is no longer abiding by the 1979 strategic arms limitation agreement and rejected Soviet efforts to win a long-term commitment to the existing 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
The statements by Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, in network news interview programs, left little doubt that the Reagan Administration has decided to abandon the unratified accord, known as SALT II--even though the President had indicated that the decision was contingent on future Soviet actions.
“That is over,” Shultz said, referring to U.S. compliance with the treaty.
Dismantling of Submarines
Weinberger added that the Administration “certainly will” deploy air-launched cruise missiles later this year, exceeding the treaty limits. He noted that while President Reagan’s decision to dismantle two Poseidon submarines will keep the United States in “technical compliance” with the treaty for a few more months, the vessels are being shelved primarily for economic reasons.
In addition, Weinberger said that the Administration will oppose any extension of the ABM treaty that would prohibit the United States from proceeding with development and deployment of “Star Wars,” the space-based missile defense system backed by Reagan.
Neither Weinberger nor Shultz disputed a report in Sunday’s New York Times that Soviet negotiators in Geneva have offered to begin reductions of strategic nuclear forces if the United States agrees to a 15- to 20-year extension and improvement of the ABM treaty.
“I haven’t seen the Soviet proposal,” Weinberger said, “but I don’t want ever to agree to anything that attempts to define--on their terms--research, or attempts to prevent our doing the kinds of things necessary to see if we can develop and deploy an effective defense against Soviet missiles.”
Shultz, who declined to comment on the Soviet proposal, was interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and Weinberger appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Although Shultz originally opposed the decision to abandon the 1979 SALT II treaty, he indicated that he now shares Weinberger’s view that the United States can no longer accept Soviet treaty violations.
Asked if the the Administration is also considering abandonment of the ABM treaty in the future, Weinberger replied, “We don’t know.” Shultz said, “I don’t want to step into that hole.”
Administration officials have argued that the “Star Wars” research program does not violate the ABM treaty. The Soviets, meanwhile, have strongly urged the United States to halt development of space-based missile defenses.
Both Shultz and Weinberger stressed their view that the Soviet Union has violated both the 1979 treaty and the ABM treaty. Unlike the ABM treaty, SALT II was never ratified by the U.S. Senate, even though the United States until now has agreed to abide by it. (It was withdrawn by the Carter Administration after the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.)
Can Give Notice
The ABM treaty is one of indefinite duration, but either side may withdraw from it under exceptional circumstances after giving six months’ notice.
Shultz said that the Soviets’ Krasnoyarsk radar facility, designed as a defense against incoming American missiles, violates the ABM treaty. He said that U.S. negotiators have made numerous unsuccessful efforts to discuss this matter with the Soviets at Geneva.
The 1979 SALT treaty is “obsolete,” he argued, because it allows the Soviets to continue adding warheads to their established arsenal of missiles without violating the treaty. In addition, he said, the Soviets have added to their arsenal more than 70 highly accurate, mobile SS-25 missiles in apparent violation of the treaty.
Weinberger scoffed at those SALT II supporters in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Congress who argue that if the United States no longer abides by the treaty, the Soviets will also break out of the limits--unleashing a new arms race.
‘Modern Deterrent’ Wanted
“They already have violated the agreement, many, many times,” he said. “They got ahead of us by simply ignoring the treaty and violating it every day. We are not engaged in a spiraling arms race, as they say. What we’re trying to do is to regain a modern, effective deterrent to war.”
Weinberger said there is no question that the United States will press ahead with a program to modernize B-52 bombers by outfitting them with cruise missiles. When the 131st B-52 is modernized later this year, the United States then will be in violation of the treaty limits.
SALT II sets a limit of 1,200 long-range nuclear missile launchers, and a ceiling of 1,320 multiple-warhead missiles and long-range bombers carrying cruise missiles.
In his announcement of the new policy last week, Reagan indicated that a final decision on violating the treaty limits would not be made until later this year. He urged the Soviets to “use this time to take the constructive steps necessary to alter the current situation.”
Talks of ‘Restraint’
Asked what Reagan wants the Soviets to do during this period, Weinberger replied that the Administration wants them to dismantle their SS-25s. Shultz’s response to the same question was: “What we’re looking for is a regime of restraint. And more than that--real progress in reduction of these numerical arsenals.”
However, Weinberger said that “you can’t trust them” without adequate procedures to verify their compliance with the treaty, and “we’ve never been able to get them to agree to any kind of verification.”
The two secretaries, each of whom has recently fired a middle-level official for leaking secrets, both endorsed the Administration’s stern response to leaks. And both concurred, albeit mildly, in suggestions that reporters who circulate national security materials can be prosecuted if they fail to exercise voluntary restraint.
Asked for his view of such prosecutions, Weinberger recalled that Congress, in 1950, had enacted a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for publishing secret code information. Without directly answering the question, he said, “Congress has taken that step.”
Law Is the Law
On the same subject, Shultz said that “the law, whatever the law is, ought to be enforced, including when somebody in the United States government puts out information that is classified and sensitive. That person is violating the oath of office . . . and should be fired, at a minimum.”
As for punishing those who publish such information, Shultz said that such persons ought to be prosecuted if they violate the law, then added: “But I think they can properly be talked to--and journalists are talked to regularly--and I think there is a tradition of responsibility in the journalistic community, and it still exists and it should be encouraged. Nobody wants to undermine the national security.”
In the same vein, Weinberger said that no one wants “to put any kind of halters on the press, but what . . . we urgently seek is some kind of restraint--voluntary restraint--so that when you get information that you know is extremely important, extremely closely held, can only help the Soviets . . . it wouldn’t be published.”