DATE=5/8/2000 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=THE ARMS CONTROL DEBATE NUMBER=6-11809 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 INTERNET=YES CONTENT= INTRO: The United States is contemplating construction of an anti-ballistic missile defense system that would intended to protect the nation from attack from missiles fired by so-called rogue nations. The problem is many scientists feel the system will not work, and it could abrogate the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union, now honored by Russia. Further complicating things is the threat, by North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, that he will block ratification of any further anti-ballistic missile treaty until President Clinton's term ends next January. . All of this is attracting the attention of the nation's editorial writers and we get a sampling now from ____________in today's U-S Opinion Roundup. TEXT: More than 15 years ago former president Ronald Reagan first proposed an anti-missile shield for the United States to guard against nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. The plan was officially called the Strategic Defense Initiative, [S-D-I] but the media quickly nicknamed it "Star Wars" after the popular science-fiction motion picture of the time. Today, the Soviet Union has disappeared, and the Russian parliament recently ratified the START Two Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, but the Star Wars idea has resurfaced. Now, the idea is that while Russia is a vastly diminished threat, the world's so-called rogue nations are not. North Korea, Iran, and Iraq, and even possibly Libya, so the theory goes, may gain the technology to fire at least one long-range, nuclear missile at this country within a decade. It is against that threat that this revived anti-missile defense system would be deployed. With that background, we go to The Sunday Boston Globe, which still feels the system is "indefensible." VOICE: The moment of truth is fast approaching in the politicized quarrel over a national missile defense. President Clinton has said he will decide this summer whether to build a phased system to protect against several dozen long- range missiles. ... Russian President Vladimir Putin ... has warned that if the United States withdraws from the 1972 ABM Treaty to build the missile defense, "We will withdraw not only from the START Two treaty, but from the whole system of treaties on limitation and control of strategic and conventional weapons." The stakes could not be greater. The 60-billion system contemplated by [Mr.] Clinton risks undoing nuclear weapons cooperation with Moscow and might also compel Beijing to expand and modernize china's basic deterrent force of about 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States. What would follow, arms control specialists fear, would be a chain reaction of nuclear weapons proliferation. ... No presidential decision to deploy a national missile defense should be taken until the system proves, in tests analyzed by disinterested scientists, that it cannot be defeated by countermeasures that must be anticipated from any state capable of delivering a ballistic missile to these shores. VOICE: That was the view of the Sunday Boston Globe. Into the middle of this arms control debate has stepped the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms. He has the power to hold up in his committee any new arms control treaty the Clinton White House may be able to negotiate with the new Russian leadership that would allow for the proposed missile defense system. And Mr. Helms says he will not allow any such treaty out of his committee until a new president is elected. The Cleveland, Ohio, Plain Dealer feels he is wrong. VOICE: Senator Jesse helms hates President Bill Clinton. Abhors him with a passion. But [Senator] Helms recklessly places personal animosity ahead of the interests of the United States in his ill-considered threat to stop any Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty alternations that the Clinton administration might negotiate with Russia in the months to come. By declaring any agreement "dead on arrival" at the Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs, [Mr.] Helms oversteps his considerable authority. ... He has gone way too far. TEXT: No so, says the tiny Dunn [North Carolina] Daily Record, in Mr. Helms' home state, which agrees with its often controversial Senator. VOICE: North Carolina's senior senator said he fears the president wants to conclude an arms- reduction agreement with Moscow as part of his legacy. In a few months the American people will go to the polls to elect a new president, "a president who must have a clean break from the failed policies of this administration," Senator Helms said. And it is doubtful any treaty negotiated by President Clinton would serve American interests because this president has an uncanny knack of conceding every point that would be good for America. Just look what his negotiations brought in China: still higher trade deficits and no improvement on human rights. Senator Helms' opposition to any Clinton treaty is well reasoned and sound. TEXT: In Florida, however, The Orlando Sentinel bristles at the North Carolina Senator's challenge. VOICE: Referring to the president's upcoming summit meeting in Moscow in June, Mr. Helms told Senate colleagues ... "This administration's time for grand treaty initiatives is at an end." In the Moscow talks, President Clinton plans to discuss amending the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to allow the United States to deploy a limited missile-defense system ... Mr. Helms and other conservative Republicans want a more expansive and costly defense system. ... The country probably would benefit if Mr. Helms ...said or did nothing during the final months of the Clinton administration - - or perhaps during any subsequent administration, as well. /// OPT /// TEXT: As far as The Dallas [Texas] Morning News is concerned, this Senate Republican push for a full- fledged missile defense system is unrealistic and dangerous. VOICE: The Senate is playing with fire. Nuclear fire. It should ratify the protocols so that START Two can be enacted and support Mr. Clinton's efforts to amend the anti-ballistic missile treaty so that the United States could build a limited missile defense. To win Russian and allied cooperation, Mr. Clinton should offer to protect them too from missile attacks by rogue states. Even the limited missile defense that Mr. Clinton proposes has not been proved technologically feasible. Why any senator would place faith in a larger and similarly unproven system is a mystery. /// OPT /// TEXT: Finally, there is more criticism of the Republican plan from The New York Times, which feels President clinton is on the right track. VOICE: Republican leaders, enthralled by the latest Star Wars concept and searching for a security issue to champion in the coming election, have embarked on a destructive campaign to dismantle the arms control work of the last six presidents, including four Republicans... Their bizarre advice is to hold pending and future arms cuts hostage to creation of a missile shield that no one knows how to build, to discard the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and to ignore the obvious danger that Russia will respond by building more missiles. The Clinton administration offers a wiser approach. It would begin negotiating a new round of deep nuclear arms cuts with Moscow. In tandem, it would seek Russian agreement to amend the 1972 ABM treaty to make room for a limited national missile defense. It would also seek quick Senate approval of supplementary language that would lock in the last round of cuts, which were negotiated by Mr. Bush but have yet to be made. ... President Clinton's June meeting with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow provides a timely opportunity to discuss both the ABM treaty and the next round of nuclear warhead reductions. ... Mr. Helms and his colleagues do the nation a disservice by trying to prevent Mr. Clinton from carrying on the vital work of cutting nuclear arms. TEXT: With that comment from the New York Times, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment on the current arms control debate, including plans for some kind of U-S defense system against rogue, long-range nuclear missiles. NEB/ANG/gm 08-May-2000 15:41 PM EDT (08-May-2000 1941 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .