Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said today that the value of the “Star Wars” anti-missile defense concept was oversold during the Reagan Administration but that the program has potential.
At the same time, he said funding for the Strategic Defense Initiative, as the program is formally known, may have to be cut as part of Pentagon belt-tightening to pare the federal budget deficit.
Former President Ronald Reagan’s proposed fiscal 1990 budget called for total “Star Wars” spending of $5.9 billion, including $300 million for SDI research funded through the Energy Department.
That would represent a 44% increase over the current fiscal year--a request considered unrealistically high by many members of Congress from both parties.
In a series of interviews with U.S. television networks, Cheney said he did not view SDI as having the potential to block all incoming ballistic missiles.
“Well, I think I would argue . . . that oftentimes during the Reagan Administration it was described in terms that frankly I think oversold the concept,” he said on NBC’s “Today” show.
Not ‘Complete Shield’
He added in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America”: “I don’t advocate the view that some have in the past that it will provide a total and complete shield. . . . “
Reagan launched “Star Wars” on March 23, 1983, with a call to make nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete” by developing the means to destroy Soviet missiles before they could hit U.S. soil.
In his second inaugural address Jan. 21, 1985, Reagan described SDI research as designed to develop a “security shield” that would “render nuclear weapons obsolete.”