DATE=4/28/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=COHEN ARMS CONTROL (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-261784 BYLINE=JIM RANDLE DATELINE=PENTAGON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Defense Secretary William Cohen says the Clinton Administration is pressing ahead with arms control efforts, in spite of fierce criticism from Moscow and a powerful member of the U-S Senate. V-O- A's Jim Randle reports from the Pentagon, where top Russian officials have been getting briefings on the latest U-S defense proposals. TEXT: Defense Secretary William Cohen says President Clinton has been working for years on agreements to reduce nuclear arms around the world because this will make Americans safer. Mr. Cohen was apparently reacting to accusations by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jesse Helms that Mr. Clinton was willing to make bad arms control agreements with Moscow just to prop up his place in history. /// Cohen Act /// So this is not something that is a last minute item on the agenda for President Clinton and any form of legacy he might seek to achieve. He has been dedicated to reducing the level of strategic armaments and has worked diligently in that effort. /// End Act /// President Clinton's final term in the White House ends early next year and his critics say he has reason to worry about his legacy because of the earlier sex-and- lies scandal that threatened to drive him from office. Administration officials must take Senator Helm's views into account because Washington's treaties can't take effect without Senate approval, and he is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The North Carolina Republican says he will block action on any arms treaties until a new President takes office. He takes particular aim at administration plans to make changes in the key Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with Moscow. Mr. Helms says he won't even hold hearings on a revised treaty and thinks the current pact should be ripped up. Without amendments, the A-B-M treaty blocks deployment of a possible system to protect the United States from attacks by a dozen or so missiles launched by rogue nations such as North Korea or Iran. Many Republicans strongly support National Missile Defense, called N-M-D, but Russia adamantly opposes the system. Moscow warns that if Washington continues work on the N-M-D, Russia might pull out of a whole network of arms control agreements that have cut thousands of nuclear weapons from the arsenals of both nations. Spokesman Craig Quigley says top U-S officials briefed Russia's foreign minister here at the Pentagon Wednesday. The U-S experts told the Russian official the proposed American missile defense system would be able to shoot down only a handful of (EDS: few) missiles, and so is irrelevant to Moscow, which could launch hundreds of weapons. But the Admiral Quigley admits Moscow is unconvinced. /// Quigley Act /// Clearly we have work to do, and some tough diplomatic work ahead of us. /// End Act /// Meantime, the N-M-D faces a crucial test in late June when engineers will try again to hit a simulated missile warhead in space with an interceptor rocket. The N-M-D has hit one target and missed another in previous tests. Defense Secretary Cohen says he will use the next test to help him craft a recommendation to the President to build or scrap the system. (Signed) NEB/JR/JP 27-Apr-2000 16:42 PM EDT (27-Apr-2000 2042 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .