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Soviets Promise Stiff Response to 'Star Wars'

December 19, 1985|Associated Press

MOSCOW — The Soviet Union said Wednesday it does not plan its own "Star Wars" research but will respond with strong measures if President Reagan pursues his "religious dream" of such a space-based shield against attack.

Soviet officials also told a news conference that the U.S. project, officially known as the Strategic Defense Initiative, would destroy the arms control process.

The news conference was held two days after two Soviet military writers outlined possible responses to any U.S. deployments under the "Star Wars" program. They included putting Soviet space "mines" in orbit, coating missiles to deflect lasers and increasing the number and accuracy of long-range nuclear missiles.

Appearing before reporters Wednesday were physicists Yevgeny Velikhov and Roald Sagdeev, Kremlin adviser Georgy A. Arbatov and Lt. Gen. Viktor Starodubov, identified as a deputy chief of the armed forces general staff.

No 'Star Wars' Adventures

Asked whether the Soviets would try to match the Strategic Defense Initiative, Velikhov replied: "We are not getting involved in any adventures of the character we now see in the 'Star Wars' program."

He said countermeasures would "not only be instrumental in maintaining the strategic balance but also have a sobering impact on those who try to disrupt such a balance through the SDI initiative." Velikhov added that Soviet scientists are developing responses that will be twice as "cost-effective" as SDI.

Velikhov, a specialist in space research, declared it a paradox that nuclear weapons, "the most powerful . . . created by man, cannot be used," and now the United States proposes something that could open the door for one side to consider using them.

"It's a critical moment in the history of the world," he said.

Sagdeev, director of the Soviet Space Research Institute, said U.S. deployment of a "Star Wars" system would result in a Soviet buildup of long-range weapons.

Disarmament 'First Victim'

"This means the first victim (of SDI) would be the very process of disarmament," he said, not, as Washington contends, that it would "put the (nuclear weapons) genie back in the bottle."

Arbatov, the Kremlin's chief adviser on the United States, said there is a "whole range of SDIs."

"There is President Reagan's SDI, and I have no reason to doubt his sincerity; it is a dream, almost a religious one, of an absolute shield," he said. Arbatov added, however, that more dangerous visions of "Star Wars" are held by military planners and policy makers, who he said would hold sway.

Meanwhile, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev said Wednesday he will extend his Aug. 6 moratorium on nuclear tests beyond Jan. 1 if the United States joins the freeze.

Tass news agency said Gorbachev spent 2 1/2 hours with Dr. Bernard Lown, an American physician, and Dr. Yevgeny Chazov, a deputy Soviet health minister. They are co-founders of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which was given the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo last week and claims 140,000 members in 41 countries.

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