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'Dealing With a Deadlock'

October 27, 1986

A disturbing aspect of the meeting in Reykjavik is the dangerous air of reality lent to the President's SDI fantasy. The President, and apologists like George Will and Colin Gray in The Times (Editorial Pages, Oct. 14) talk about SDI as if it exists now, as if it is some viable, well-defined weapon system or strategy.

But what is SDI? Is it the impermeable shield the President persists in talking about? Or does it just protect our missiles? How much will this "insurance policy" cost us? Can it confound its legions of critics and somehow actually work?

No real answers can be given until billions of dollars and many more years have been spent on research and testing. And when will this magical shield be deployed? Reagan magnanimously offers to "delay" deploying SDI for 10 years. But his own people say that nothing will be ready for deployment for 15 to 20 years! The President informs us that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev didn't think this "concession" was good enough! Who can blame him?

So why are the Russians so concerned about SDI? Because (a) they don't think SDI technology will really be shared with them once developed, and (b) they don't believe that the weapons developed will be strictly "defensive" in nature.

Perhaps our President thinks that billions can be spent on research into every conceivable high-tech flight of fancy and produce weapons that can only be used for defense, but our generals and defense contractors aren't so naive.

Meanwhile, Russian missiles are still aimed at us, and our missiles at them. Despite the serious talk from the Soviets on drastically reducing nuclear arsenals in the next decade, we are asked to believe that keeping open the option of testing and deploying SDI's mythical shield (in a couple of decades) is somehow more vital to our security. Apparently you have to be an "expert" to understand this logic.

In any case, SDI is clearly an insurance policy. It's a life insurance policy for the military-industrial complex well into the next century and on up into space where it truly will become "Star Wars."

BRUCE I. WALN

Alta Loma

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