News

DATE=3/17/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-246794 TITLE=SENATE-MISSILE DEFENSE (L)(CQ) BYLINE=DAVID SWAN DATELINE=CAPITOL HILL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A CALL FOR A NATIONAL MISSILE-DEFENSE SYSTEM HAS EASILY CLEARED THE U-S SENATE (BY A VOTE OF 97-TO-THREE), WITH SUPPORTERS SAYING THE PLAN SHOULD NOT HURT RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. V-O-A'S DAVID SWAN REPORTS, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IS ALSO LIKELY TO APPROVE THE BILL THIS WEEK. TEXT: WHILE THE MEASURE WAS ONCE THE FOCUS OF HEATED DEBATE, IT PASSED THE SENATE WITH JUST THREE DISSENTING VOTES (WEDNESDAY). THIS REFLECTS GROWING CONCERN ABOUT MISSILE THREATS FROM ROGUE STATES LIKE NORTH KOREA -- AND FROM CHINA, IN LIGHT OF REPORTS THAT BEIJING HAS OBTAINED U-S NUCLEAR-WARHEAD TECHNOLOGY. THE VOTE ALSO MARKS A TURNAROUND FOR THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND MANY OF ITS ALLIES, ALTHOUGH DEMOCRATIC SENATOR CARL LEVIN ARGUES THEIR BASIC VIEWS HAVE NOT SHIFTED. /// LEVIN ACT /// THE WHITE HOUSE HAS NOT CHANGED ITS POSITION ON NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE ANY MORE THAN I HAVE. THE BILL HAS BEEN CHANGED IN TWO SIGNIFICANT WAYS. I THINK THE BILL HAS BEEN VASTLY IMPROVED. /// END ACT /// THE ORIGINAL BILL DECLARED THE UNITED STATES SHOULD DEPLOY AN ANTI-MISSILE SHIELD AS SOON AS TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS. THE VERSION THAT PASSED THE SENATE WAS AMENDED TO SAY THE NATION SHOULD ALSO KEEP WORKING WITH RUSSIA TO REDUCE OFFENSIVE NUCLEAR ARSENALS. THIS IS DESIGNED TO EASE CONCERNS THE MEASURE WOULD UNDERMINE THE LANDMARK ANTI-BALLISTIC MISSILE TREATY, WHICH WASHINGTON AND MOSCOW SIGNED IN 1972. THE NEW LANGUAGE LED THE WHITE HOUSE TO DROP ITS LONG-STANDING VETO THREAT. BUT DEMOCRATIC SENATOR PAUL WELLSTONE WARNS THE BILL COULD STILL CRIPPLE FUTURE ARMS CONTROL, INCLUDING RUSSIAN RATIFICATION OF THE START-TWO NUCLEAR TREATY. /// WELLSTONE ACT /// OUR FOCUS SHOULD BE ON THE ARSENAL OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS THAT RUSSIA HAS NOW, AND HOW WE CAN HAVE ARMS-CONTROL AGREEMENTS WITH RUSSIA. WE OUGHT NOT TO BE PUTTING A-B-M AND START IN JEOPARDY. WE OUGHT NOT TO BE PUTTING ARMS CONTROL IN JEOPARDY. /// END ACT /// THE BILL DOES NOT SAY WHEN THE MISSILE DEFENSE NETWORK MUST BE IN PLACE, OR HOW MUCH IT SHOULD COST. THE U-S GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY SPENT BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ON RESEARCH AND TESTING SINCE PRESIDENT REAGAN FIRST PROPOSED THE IDEA IN 1983. (SIGNED) NEB/DS/ENE/WTW 17-Mar-99 6:07 PM EST (2307 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .