WASHINGTON — As the U.S. arms negotiating team arrived in Geneva for talks on limiting nuclear weapons, President Reagan on Saturday renewed his high-profile campaign for the MX missile by urging Americans to tell Congress to release funds for production of the missile as a "key test of American resolve."
"As I speak to you, our team is in Geneva," Reagan said in his weekly radio broadcast. "I cannot think of a more welcome message to give them than a strong vote of confidence from you the people and the Congress."
The House and Senate each face votes later this month on freeing $1.5 billion already appropriated to be spent in the current fiscal year to build another 21 of the missiles. The MX has been an issue of sharp partisan dispute since the start of Reagan's first term, even though the 10-warhead missile has been under development for more than 10 years, with the approval of every administration.
Democrats have argued that the MX, which would match weapons already in the Soviet arsenal in ability to destroy such military targets as missile silos, is potentially a "first-strike" weapon that would destabilize the nuclear balance between the superpowers.