DEFENSE POLICY: NUCLEAR WEAPONS

With big cuts now possible in the post-cold war era, there is no longer much partisan disagreement over the size of the United States atomic arsenal. But the future of nuclear-weapons tests and the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) have become matters of increasing contention. As atomic arsenals shrink to shadows of their former selves, what relevance do continued tests and "star wars" have? Will they help make the new nuclear world more stable? Or are they relics of an old balance-of-terror mode of tho ught? BUSH

Says nuclear tests will be limited to six per year for the next five years. Claims all these explosions will test the safety and reliability of existing weapons and will not be will not be used to develop new warheads. Holds out the possibility that there may be further reductions in test numbers - but continues to insist that some tests are needed as long as any US nuclear stockpile exists.

Strongly backs continued development of strategic defenses to protect the US, its allies, and US troops overseas against accidental or rogue- nation ballistic-missile attack. Plans three-element SDI deployment: ground-based interceptors to protect the US; theater defenses to protect allies and forward-based troops; and space-based sensors and interceptors to augment the whole system. CLINTON

Favors ending nuclear tests through negotiation of a Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty. Would take a two-step approach to a CTB pact: First, a cap would be placed on the number of tests permitted annually that is lower than current levels; then a full stop would be implemented if no unforeseen nuclear-safety problems arise.

Supports development of defenses against tactical ballistic missiles to protect US troops abroad and other small areas. Would focus SDI research on the goal of a single-site, ground-based defense deployed in the US. Says space-based additions to this limited system aren't necessary.

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