YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Tass Calls ASAT Test a 'Dangerous Step' to New Arms

September 15, 1985|ROBERT GILLETTE | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — The official Soviet news agency Tass on Saturday condemned the American test of an anti-satellite missile against a target in space as a "dangerous step" toward the deployment of a new class of weapons.

In the initial Soviet reaction to Friday's successful test, Tass contended that the United States is engaged in "war preparations" before the November summit meeting in Geneva, but it stopped short of threatening any action in response. More detailed and authoritative Moscow reactions are likely over the next several days.

The government here said Sept. 4 that if the United States proceeded with its first test of the air-launched anti-satellite missile, the Soviet Union would consider itself "free of its unilateral commitment not to place anti-satellite systems in space."

Terse Account

In a one-paragraph report from Washington, Tass said an F-15 fighter plane had successfully launched a two-stage missile, the second stage of which "slammed into the target satellite" in orbit.

It called the test a "dangerous step in defiance of broad protests from the world public" and one that "leads directly to the start of deployment of a new class of armaments--space strike systems."

This was further evidence, the Tass item contended, that the Reagan Administration has made an arms race in space the "cornerstone of U.S. policy."

A separate commentary issued by Tass suggested that Moscow interprets the test as part of an attempt by the Reagan Administration to demonstrate its resolve toward the Soviet Union as the two countries prepare to resume arms control talks in Geneva on Thursday, then convene a summit conference in November.

Such efforts, the commentary said, "naturally hamper preparations for the Soviet-U.S. (arms) talks and also preparations for the Soviet-U.S. summit."

U.S. Rebuffs Cited

The commentary, signed by political analyst Yevgeny Yegorov, said the Administration has shown a pattern in recent months of spurning Soviet offers to join in moratoriums on the testing of nuclear arms, on further development of chemical weapons, and on testing of anti-satellite systems.

All this, followed by the anti-satellite test, Yegorov wrote, constitutes an "escalation of war preparations" before President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev are scheduled to meet Nov. 19-20.

Western diplomats doubt that Moscow takes its own rhetoric of this sort seriously. The Soviets, however, have tried for more than a year, through diplomacy and propaganda, to head off the first test of an American system that is considerably more advanced than one the Soviet Union deployed on a cumbersome ground-launched rocket in the late 1970s.

While Moscow is believed to recognize that one test of the U.S. anti-satellite missile--a marvel of electronic miniaturization that the Soviets would be hard-put to duplicate--does not make it a deployable weapon, they also understand that a successful test does make it a more formidable bargaining chip in the Geneva talks.

The Soviet Union also contends that tests of this technology cannot be distinguished from the development of anti-missile systems, which are banned under the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The U.S. Administration, for its part, contends that the test was necessary to establish a credible response to the Soviet ground-launched anti-satellite system already in place.

Los Angeles Times Articles