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U.S. to Ignore SALT II Pact --Weinberger : Will Arm B-52s With Cruise Missiles in Fall, He Declares

May 28, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger said today the United States will definitely ignore the SALT II accord this fall by proceeding with the arming of B-52 bombers with cruise missiles.

Weinberger, speaking to reporters before he delivered the commencement speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, also said he does not expect the Soviet Union to cease its violations of the SALT II accord, no matter what the United States does.

His remarks, while in large part echoing those of President Reagan on Tuesday, were even stronger in indicating that a decision has been made to abandon the SALT limits.

On Tuesday, Reagan called the unratified SALT II accord "fundamentally flawed" and said he will update American military forces according to U.S. "strategic needs."

To Dismantle 2 Subs

At the same time, however, Reagan also said the United States may continue to abide by the treaty if he sees evidence that alleged Soviet cheating has stopped. In the meantime, he said the United States will dismantle two aging Poseidon submarines to clear the way for a new Trident submarine, thus remaining within the SALT II limits. (Story on Page 11.)

"We will not be modernizing the two submarines because it's not really cost-effective to do that," Weinberger said.

"As far as the next phase or next stage is concerned--that will probably occur somewhere around about, I think it's August or September, somewhere in there--when the 131st B-52 is equipped to carry air-launched cruise missiles.

"We will equip it . . . that (way), because that's very much in our interest to do so.

'Traveled Last Mile'

"The restraints imposed by the treaty have never been observed in full by the Soviets. . . . They continue to violate it by deploying new missiles that are not within the permission of the SALT II limits. The President has traveled that last mile, and we are no longer bound by that flawed agreement. It's very, very simple."

Weinberger's remarks today were made available to reporters at the Pentagon.

The SALT II accord limits to 1,200 the number of missiles in each country's arsenal that can be equipped with multiple warheads. It also sets a ceiling of 1,320 on the combination of bombers carrying air-launched cruise missiles and missiles with multiple warheads.

Asked whether Reagan has not indicated a willingness to abide by the treaty if Soviet cheating stops, Weinberger replied: "He said if the Soviets took various corrective actions, he would take that into consideration."

"It's a little hard to be optimistic in view of the past record of violations," Weinberger added.

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