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White House Says Congress Has Arms Data

September 04, 1987|JAMES GERSTENZANG | Times Staff Writer

SANTA BARBARA — The White House maintained Thursday that it has done "everything possible" to inform Congress about progress in arms control negotiations.

There was no official response to a letter sent to President Reagan by Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, seeking greater access to records on the U.S.-Soviet talks. However, Dan Howard, a White House spokesman, said that "we've done our darnedest to keep Congress informed."

Howard said that the White House had received Nunn's letter, in which the senator said he would hold up ratification of a proposed intermediate-range weapons treaty unless the Administration provides detailed records of all current treaty negotiations. The letter is being studied, Howard added.

120 Reports Sent

He said that over the last 2 1/2 years, a team of congressional observers has been assigned to the peace talks in Geneva and that 120 reports of seven or eight pages each have been sent to Congress about the negotiations.

"We have done everything possible to keep Congress informed on the course of the negotiations," he said.

"No treaty has been signed yet, so the record the senator is requesting is not yet available.,"

In Geneva, U.S. and Soviet negotiators are said to be nearing agreement on a pact to eliminate the superpowers' arsenals of short- and medium-range nuclear weapons--those in the category labeled intermediate nuclear forces and capable of reaching targets 300 to 3,000 miles from launch points.

If a treaty is signed this autumn, the Senate ratification debate would begin early next year.

In his letter, Nunn said the Senate will not ratify the treaty unless the detailed, six-year negotiating record can be reviewed, and he asked the Administration for memoranda, transcripts and other documents.

Questions on ABM Pact

Nunn's request stems from questions that have been raised in connection with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The Administration maintains that the 1972 treaty allows development of Reagan's space-based Strategic Defense Initiative to defend against missile attacks.

Some in Congress maintain that the treaty prohibits such work, and the Administration has argued that Congress has no legal right to see the record compiled as the Richard M. Nixon Administration negotiated the pact.

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