President Bush told congressional leaders today he will reconsider the U.S. arms control proposal to ban mobile nuclear missiles if Congress decides to build both the railroad MX and truck-borne Midgetman missiles.
Sens. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.), the chairman and senior Republican respectively on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said after a meeting with Bush that the President indicated his willingness to reverse the Ronald Reagan Administration's mobile missile stand at the Geneva nuclear arms negotiations.
Nunn said that Bush, with the acquiescence of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Secretary of State James A. Baker III, "took the position that banning of the mobile missile would be re-examined if Congress funds both missile programs."
Nunn noted Moscow has already deployed mobile strategic-range missiles and Warner said "the Soviet Union has both an operational road system and rail system."
"I've come away encouraged by the support of funding for both missiles," he added. "That was the heart of the discussion. I thought it was a very good meeting."
Congress has been divided over building more of the 10-warhead MXs or going ahead with work on the single-warhead Midgetman, which is to be carried around on trucks to make it less vulnerable to attack. Bush has proposed building 50 more MXs, and making them rail mobile--as was first considered in the Jimmy Carter Administration but rejected by President Reagan, who had them put in silos.