BONN — Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Cabinet agreed today to begin negotiations with the United States for a role in the "Star Wars" space-based missile defense research project.
A statement released by the Cabinet stressed that the government will not subsidize research on "Star Wars," officially known as the Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI.
Instead, the government will seek only to protect the rights of West German firms that participate in the program by negotiating regulations governing patents, technology transfers, the sharing of classified information and other matters, the statement said.
The Bonn government wants to "improve the position of the German research institutes and firms that want to participate as contractors in the SDI research program," the Cabinet said.
Formal NATO Talks
Today's Cabinet decision also stressed the importance of discussing the "strategic, arms control and political consequences of SDI research" within the NATO alliance. Bonn government sources said West Germany will seek a formal discussion within NATO next year about the program's implications.
The Cabinet assigned Economics Minister Martin Bangemann to lead the negotiations with Washington starting next month.
Kohl had announced Tuesday, even before the Cabinet decision, that Bangemann would lead the West German negotiating team. The government press office said Kohl made the appointment early because he expected the Cabinet would make a "clear decision without major conflicts."
The Cabinet meeting was scheduled after months of public squabbling over whether West Germany should take part in the Reagan Administration's plan to develop space weapons to defend against incoming nuclear missiles.
2 Groups in Opposition
West Germany's opposition Social Democrats and Greens categorically reject "Star Wars" on the ground that it could dangerously intensify the U.S.-Soviet arms race.
Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, a liberal Free Democrat in Kohl's coalition government, has voiced strong doubts about the program but nevertheless went along.
The Reagan Administration has invited all its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies to take part in the $26-billion program, but only Britain has accepted so far.