The Senate should ratify the proposed medium-range missile treaty to reassure skittish allies in Europe that the United States is a reliable partner and to keep the Soviets at the negotiating table for a broader agreement on long-range weapons, former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown testified Friday.
However, retired Gen. Bernard W. Rogers, who served under Brown as Army chief of staff in the late 1970s, urged in a speech Friday that the treaty be rejected as sacrificing nuclear weapons critical to American and European security.
"I'm concerned because this treaty, I believe, puts Western Europe on the slippery slope of denuclearization, which is something the Soviets want, because it would make Europe safe for conventional war," said Rogers, who retired from the Army in 1987 after eight years as supreme military commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Rogers, reaffirming opposition he announced late last year, said in his National Press Club address that the treaty gives him "gas pains" because "it is not in the best interests of our Western European allies, short term or long term, and in the long term will not be in the best interest of the United States."
Week of Deliberations
The two former officials spoke in Washington as the Senate finished its first week of deliberations on the ratification of the proposed Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which was signed by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev on Dec. 8.
The treaty calls for the world-wide elimination of ground-launched nuclear missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,000 miles. Its ratification by the Senate is all but assured, but three Senate committees are holding several weeks of hearings before voting on the pact.
Brown testified in favor of the treaty before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is focusing on the treaty's effect on NATO's ability to defend itself against attack by Soviet non-nuclear forces and short-range nuclear weapons.
The Foreign Relations Committee has primary jurisdiction over the treaty, while the Select Intelligence Committee is studying the complex provisions for verifying compliance by both sides.
Brown said many European leaders are concerned about the unpredictability of the Reagan Administration, which has wavered between attacks on the Soviet Union as "the evil empire" and embracing its leaders at the bargaining table.
" . . . Confidence is further eroded when the very Administration whose actions concern our allies becomes weaker in its domestic political grip, as happened both in 1986 and 1987: the Iran-Contra scandal, the 1986 (congressional) elections, various legal problems of Administration figures, and domestic economic concerns," said Brown, who served under President Jimmy Carter.
Senate rejection of the pact would shatter European confidence in American leaders and convince the Soviets that the United States is not serious about arms control, Brown said.
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also endorsed the treaty before the committee, similarly citing the political consequences of rejection.
"I believe the treaty on balance leaves Europe somewhat more vulnerable, the Soviet Union somewhat less vulnerable and the (NATO) alliance somewhat weaker," she said. But she added, "It does not follow, however, that the Senate should not ratify the treaty," because failing to do so would heighten fears in Europe that the United States has become ungovernable.
Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee prepared to send to the Senate floor the nomination of Army Maj. Gen. William F. Burns to head the State Department's Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.