WASHINGTON — President Reagan and his top advisers will meet at the White House on Wednesday for a pivotal session on whether to exceed the limits on nuclear missiles under the controversial 1979 SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union, a U.S. official said today.
The official, who demanded anonymity, said most of the presidential advisers are in favor of going past the ceiling when a new Trident nuclear submarine begins sea trials next month.
Summoned to the White House session were Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, CIA Director William J. Casey and other key advisers.
"We're running out of time," the official said. "I think this is basically the decision."
No Decision This Week
Later, White House spokesman Larry Speakes said Reagan will not make any final decisions on the treaty this week.
The Trident, with 24 multiple-warhead missiles, will put the United States beyond the 2,504 limit on delivery vehicles established by the unratified treaty unless other missiles are dismantled.
Only Shultz and Paul H. Nitze, a senior arms control adviser, have recommended that the U.S. total be kept under the ceiling by dismantling older launchers, the official said.
Weinberger, Casey, Kenneth L. Adelman, director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and adviser Edward L. Rowny all are in favor of allowing the U.S. total to surpass the SALT II limit in response to alleged Soviet violations of the accord.
Last summer, faced with a similar decision, Reagan ordered a Poseidon submarine broken up when a Trident went to sea. He said he chose to "go the extra mile" and continue U.S. observance of the unratified treaty.