WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger fired the first salvo today in his fight to keep military spending increases intact, using the Soviet threat as ammunition by charging that Moscow has now deployed 45 SS-25 strategic missiles.
At the same time, Administration sources said President Reagan has decided to ask Congress for slightly more than $311 billion for the Pentagon for next year, which includes a 4% pay increase for the military and leaves nuclear weapons and the "Star Wars" programs untouched.
Soviet deployment of the mobile nuclear missile is a violation of the unratified SALT II accord, the United States has charged, and Weinberger accused Moscow last December of placing 27 of the feared SS-25s in the field.
"Today I can confirm that the Soviets now have 45 operationally deployed SS-25s, a number which represents a continual growth in this threat," Weinberger said. "And these numbers are, if anything, conservative since we expect additional deployments in the very near future."