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Missile Defense Advocates Call 1972 Pact ‘Bitter Joke’

October 4, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Advocates of President Reagan’s ″Star Wars″ program, calling the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty a ″bitter joke″ and ″shortsighted,″ urged the administration Thursday to reject any Kremlin offer that imposes new limits on development of U.S. strategic defenses.

″We can’t give the Soviet Union a veto over it,″ said Fred Ikle, undersecretary of defense for policy.

Ikle spoke at a conference held by the congressional Coalition for the Strategic Defense Initiative on the 13th anniversary of the U.S.-Soviet ABM treaty - a pact based on the theory that reducing the number of defensive systems would obviate the need for offensive buildups.

Sen. Malcolm Wallop, R-Wyo, said that given the numbers of rockets built since 1972 ″it seems now to be a bitter joke when faced with the reality of today.″

The conference was part of a campaign among conservatives in the weeks leading up to November’s Soviet-U.S. summit in Geneva to remind Reagan of his oft-repeated pledge against negotiating limits on Star Wars research.

Retired Adm. Thomas Moorer, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the ABM Treaty was signed, said the 1972 pact limiting defensive systems was ″shortsighted″ because officials did not foresee technological improvements.

″Negotiators at the time faced great pressure just to make a treaty,″ he said, contending that the Soviet aim in the current round of arms control talks is once again to keep the United States from building strong defenses.

Moorer added, ″They want us to stop while they work it out for themselves or steal what we’ve got.″

The Soviet Union has proposed a 50 percent cut in nuclear weapons in exchange for reduced research on the U.S. strategic defense program, although it is not yet clear which weapons they want to cut and how much strategic research would be permitted.

Ikle, citing a desire to see more details, would not comment on an offer Gorbachev made in Paris to cut the number of Soviet medium-range SS-20 missiles targeted on Western Europe.

He repeated longstanding administration displeasure with the ABM pact, but said the United States would continue to comply.

″The United States, unlike other nations, does not violate treaties,″ Ikle said, noting that ″adjustments″ have been made in the Strategic Defense Initiative to maintain compliance. The administration has accused the Soviets of several violations of the pact.

On Wednesday, six former defense secretaries - three Democrats and three Republicans - issued a statement supporting the ABM Treaty.

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