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Arms Pact Flawed, Former Pentagon Aides Say

February 04, 1988|JOHN M. BRODER and MELISSA HEALY | Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — The recently signed medium-range missile treaty with the Soviet Union is marred by major loopholes that will allow significant Soviet cheating, two former top Defense Department officials charged Wednesday.

Richard N. Perle, an arms control skeptic who served as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, and Frank J. Gaffney Jr., his former aide, said the treaty was hastily drafted and contains errors and omissions that "must be corrected."

The treaty's flaws would allow the Soviet Union to conceal enough SS-20 medium-range missiles to hit all the critical military targets in Europe, the former officials said.

Some of the changes they suggested would require the United States and the Soviet Union to renegotiate the treaty, which was signed by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev on Dec. 8.

Perle served as the Pentagon's top arms control expert from the beginning of the Reagan Administration until last June, and he earned a reputation as an anti-Soviet hard-liner who pressed arms control approaches unacceptable to the Kremlin. Gaffney was Perle's designated successor at the agency until Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci blocked his promotion in November and he resigned.

Perle and Gaffney detailed their objections in an exhaustive article-by-article analysis of the so-called INF (intermediate-range nuclear forces) treaty. They timed the release of the study to coincide with Senate hearings on ratification of the accord and coupled their report with a plea to the Senate to amend the treaty. Perle is scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

Under terms of the treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union will eliminate all medium-range ground-launched nuclear missiles with ranges of 300 to 3,000 miles. Most of the Soviet missiles are based in Europe and are considered a threat to population centers and key military installations.

Administration officials have testified before the Senate that the treaty should be ratified as is, without any "killer amendments" that would require renegotiation with the Soviets.

Administration officials already have countered many of the charges against the treaty, including charges that the Soviets could build one stage of the banned SS-20 missile in unmonitored SS-25 manufacturing plants and also could convert launchers for use in firing the missiles. The White House insists that U.S. intelligence agencies and inspections allowed under the treaty could detect such cheating.

Other of the group's charges, however, may prove troubling to lawmakers considering the treaty. The former officials alleged that the Soviets could retire some missiles and hide them before the monitoring of missile destruction begins.

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