Washington — The Senate on Friday confirmed Frank Carlucci as United States secretary of defense, replacing the retiring secretary, Caspar Weinberger. The vote was 91-1, with Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina the lone dissenter. Eight senators were absent.
Mr. Carlucci had been nominated by President Reagan 15 days before. He had served less than a year as national security adviser.
Carlucci was given that job following the departure of Rear Adm. John Poindexter (now retired) in the wake of the disclosure of the sale of US arms to Iran and diversion of some of the profits to the Nicaraguan contras.
A career government official with a reputation as a tough but pragmatic operator, Carlucci was praised by the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sam Nunn (D) of Georgia, as an effective leader ``who's well aware of the tough defense budget decisions that will be needed.''
Weinberger is retiring after seven years of presiding over the biggest peacetime miltary buildup in US history. Pentagon spending doubled during his tenure.
``This nation is extremely fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated public servant nominated to be secretary of defense,'' Senator Nunn said.
``I predict the working relationship between Mr. Carlucci and the Senate and perhaps the House will be best working relationship in the history of that office,'' said Sen. John Warner, (R) of Virginia.
Nunn and others took note of published reports that several people who had been business and government associates of Carlucci had lobbied last summer to relieve press and congressional pressure on a large Japanese trading company accused of the illegal sale of sensitive propeller-milling machinery to the Soviet Union.
The machinery is said to have enabled the Soviets to build quieter submarines which are more difficult for US forces to locate.
The company, C. Itoh, reportedly acted as an export broker in an allegedly illegal sale of the equipment by Toshiba Machine Company.
Nunn said he and Senator Warner, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, ``find nothing in this material which gives any reason Mr. Carlucci should not be confirmed.''