Weinberger leaves his post but keeps his views. Former defense chief backs INF pact

Caspar Weinberger is now officially unemployed. His successor as secretary of defense, Frank Carlucci, moved into the Pentagon last Tuesday. But retirement - one day of it, anyway - has not mellowed Mr. Weinberger's opinions. In a valedictory breakfast meeting with reporters, he blasted Congress, praised ``star wars'' and the medium-range missile treaty, and continued to sound every inch a Ronald Reagan loyalist.

Arms control. Weinberger said he believed the impending treaty scrapping intermediate-range nuclear missiles (INF) will ``in the final analysis be ratified'' by the Senate. But reflecting a growing perception in Washington that opponents of the treaty will put up stiff resistance, he admitted that ratification ``is not a sure thing.''

The former defense secretary considers himself a conservative Republican, and it is just such conservatives who are complaining the loudest about the INF pact scheduled to be signed next month. But Weinberger did not offer any criticism of the treaty. He said most of the conservatives' objections are about side-effects they fear will happen after a treaty is signed, such as withdrawal of shorter-range US nuclear forces from Europe.

Weinberger said he did not favor any negotiations on these shorter-range ``battlefield'' nuclear systems, and that he does not think a denuclearization of Europe was in the works.

``Star wars.'' Continuing to sound like the biggest booster of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) short of President Reagan himself, Weinberger said ``we've got to decide if we want to deploy'' a defensive shield against nuclear missiles.

He said that agreeing to limit the scope of SDI tests would be tantamount to killing the program because ``you can't develop anything at the cutting edge of technology with those kinds of limits.''

He denied that there have been any indications President Reagan is willing to deal with the Soviets on SDI testing limitations. ``I have not heard anything indicating the slightest suggestion he would bargain it away,'' Weinberger said, pointing to two pro-SDI speeches the President delivered this week.

ABM Treaty. The 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty prohibits deployment and advanced testing of defense against ballistic missiles. Asked why the US doesn't just tear up this treaty if SDI is so important, Weinberger said ``some day we may.''

He said the ABM accord is ``fatally flawed'' because it was not followed up by large cuts in long-range nuclear missiles, among other things, and superpower arsenals have expanded greatly since it was signed.

Congress. Weinberger and Capitol Hill have long had strained relations, as legislators considered the former defense secretary dogmatic and inflexible in his pursuit of ever-higher defense budgets. Weinberger still returns the favor. He referred to ``sentiment totally against national security'' among lawmakers, as shown by the cuts in the defense budget made this year.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.