Reagan Rejects Call For Elimination Of All Mid-Range Missiles
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Reagan has rejected Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger’s position on elimination of intermediate-range nuclear missiles because he does not want to take a proposed treaty with the Soviets ″off the table,″ his chief of staff says.
The administration is negotiating a treaty with the Soviets that would eliminate medium-range missiles from Europe and limit both sides to a maximum of 100 such missiles worldwide.
Weinberger wanted to change the U.S. position to call for elimination of all intermediate-range missiles worldwide, but Reagan has rejected that position, White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker said in an interview published today in The Washington Post.
Reagan had sought such a plan early in his presidency but settled on the 100-missiles version at the summit in Reykjavik, Iceland last October with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Soviets have balked at total elimination of the missiles, insisting that their force of 100 missiles be allowed to remain in Asia.
″I respect Cap, but I think it would have been a mistake to take that treaty off the table because it would have signaled there is a significnt change in the American bargaining position,″ Baker said. ″I think it might have prejudiced our negotiations with the Soviets not only on this but on other things as well.″
Baker said Reagan was briefed on the position of Weinberger and that of Shultz, who opposed any modification in the treaty proposal. When asked whether he wanted to discuss it further with the two Cabinet members, Baker said the president said, ″No, I just want to make a decision,″ and added, ″I’m not going to take this treaty off the table.″
Baker said Reagan told them they should still strive for an ultimate goal of eliminating all the missiles, even though it is not in the current treaty proposal.