YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Despite Scandal, Gen. Powell Urges Support for Arms Buildup

July 20, 1988|AMY STEVENS | Times Staff Writer

Against a backdrop of widening investigations into fraud and bribery in the nation's weapons procurement system, Lt. Gen. Colin L. Powell, President Reagan's national security adviser, urged continued public support of the President's defense policies in a speech here Tuesday.

"Let's not say, 'Well, let's remove the consensus of the American people that we want a strong defense' because of one or two matters that come along that cast doubt," Powell told the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

Denies Money Was Wasted

Powell said that, in his opinion, money spent on defense during the Reagan Administration has not been wasted. "I have seen where that money went," he said. "The American people got an excellent return on their investment."

At the same time, the White House official took note of the unfolding Defense Department scandal and pledged to "get to the bottom of it and get it solved," as has Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci.

"In any large organization, and certainly one as large as the Pentagon with 15 million contract actions a year, there are bound to be problems, and I don't want to make light of those problems," Powell said.

He said there are no plans for a fifth summit meeting between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. But he said that talks begun since the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last month will continue.

"We're trying hard. Our negotiators are in Geneva, and I expect that Secretary (of State George P.) Shultz will meet again with (Soviet) Foreign Minister (Eduard A.) Shevardnadze in the not-too-distant future," Powell said.

He said it is not clear whether the talks will lead to the signing of a strategic arms treaty with the Soviet Union by the end of Reagan's term in January.

Progress on Treaty Cited

"A great deal of progress has been made toward the completion of that treaty, but some of the outstanding issues . . . are so difficult that it is not clear we will be able to finish all the work in the six months remaining to this Administration."

Powell warned that, despite what he regards as "a rather exciting set of developments" in the Soviet Union--namely Gorbachev's announced policies of openness and restructuring--the United States should not cut defense spending "until we begin to see fundamental changes in Soviet military power."

Los Angeles Times Articles