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Businesses Cite Link to Jobs : U.S. Official Outlines Case for MX Missile

March 14, 1985

A high-ranking U.S. State Department official, speaking to a breakfast meeting of the South Bay Assn. of Chambers of Commerce in Torrance on Tuesday, reviewed the Reagan Administration's arguments for continued production of the MX missile from a national and global perspective.

But on the eve of a congressional vote that may decide the fate of the $16.5-billion project, it was clear that the chambers' members were interested in more than theories on nuclear deterrence. They said that up to 30,000 South Bay jobs--the number supported directly or indirectly by work on the MX at Northrop Corp. in Hawthorne, TRW in El Segundo and Logicon in San Pedro--will be lost if Congress decides next week not to release funding for the construction of 21 more missiles.

A "fact sheet" handed out by chamber members at the meeting also pointed to "significant local procurements" by MX contractors and suggested that a negative vote on the missile would have a "major impact on the local and state tax base."

"A lot of phones are going to be ringing (in Washington) and we're going to be writing letters too," one chamber member told Robert Dean, deputy assistant secretary of state.

Dean, the State Department's specialist on strategic nuclear policy and arms control, agreed that it would be "illogical" for the South Bay not to support the MX project. He termed the area, with its heavy concentration of aerospace contractors and high-tech capabilities, a "national resource" that plays a national security role out of proportion to its size and political representation in Washington.

But, Dean told reporters, the government is not concerned with "just keeping the bread buttered" in areas of the country that produce weapons systems. He said continued deployment of the MX is the "only way we can quickly and expeditiously redress the imbalance" in nuclear weapons created by a Soviet buildup in recent years.

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