WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci, backing away from his first potential confrontation with Congress, told a House committee Wednesday that he will not push a plan that would base MX missiles on the nation's railways as early as 1991, leaving the decision for the next presidential administration.
"It would be premature to ask Congress to commit to that," Carlucci said of a previously announced proposal to deploy eight of the 12 MX missiles the Pentagon wants to build next year, as well as 38 already built and deployed in silos, aboard trains.
Carlucci, whose testimony revealed an initial Administration plan to move ahead quickly with such a basing scheme, was warned by lawmakers that the proposal would face strong resistance in Congress. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin (D-Wis.) and Rep. Nicholas Mavroules (D-Mass.) said they had urged Carlucci to slow the pace of the proposal.
Proposed Force of 100
The Administration considers the 10-warhead MX the centerpiece of its strategic modernization plan and has proposed a force of 100 of the missiles. But Congress set a cap of 50 on the deployed missiles until the Administration proposes an alternative to the current basing system, which houses the missiles in older Minuteman silos in the West.