Report opposes treaty reinterpretation to allow for expanded ‘Star Wars’ testing

WASHINGTON (AP)—The Reagan administration incorrectly claims it can unilaterally reinterpret the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to allow expanded U.S. “Star Wars” testing, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday.

The attempt by the Republican administration to change the U.S. view of the 15-year-old treaty could affect Senate consideration of a possible treaty on intermediate-range nuclear weapons, the Democratic-controlled committee said in a 106-page report.

The report was the latest round in a long-running fight between President Reagan and congressional Democrats over the 1972 pact, which limits the variety and type of defenses that each superpower can deploy.

At issue in the battle is development of Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, known informally as “Star Wars.” The administration wants to move from the existing interpretation to a so-called “broad” view of the ABM treaty, which would allow expanded testing of Star Wars.

eagan has asserted that the executive branch has the right to unilaterally change how a treaty is interpreted although he says he won’t make such a change without consulting Congress.

Last week, however, the Senate split generally along party lines as it voted 58-38 to approve a proposal banning spending for expanded Star Wars tests that violate the existing view of the ABM pact.

While releasing the report, the Foreign Relations Committee also sent to the floor a resolution, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., that rejects the attempt to reinterpret the ABM pact.

“This report underscores the profound constitutional issues which will surround Senate consideration of an INF (intermediate nuclear forces) agreement if the treaty power question is not resolved,” Biden said in a statement released with the report.

The committee’s report came in the wake of a series of joint hearings it held earlier this year with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

According to the report, “The administration’s theory of treaty-making, having cast a dark shadow over the Senate’s consideration of all future treaties, could severely complicate and greatly prolong the committee’s consideration of an INF treaty.”

The committee will hold hearings on any new treaty, probably starting sometime early in 1988, according to Sen. Claiborne Pell, D-R.I., chairman of the panel.

Congressional critics of the administration’s proposal to reinterpret the ABM treaty say the executive branch cannot change the way a pact is viewed.

When the Senate “gives its advice and consent to a treaty, it is to the treaty that was made, irrespective of the explanations it was provided,” the report said.

Instead of reinterpreting the treaty, the administration was actually proposing a new treaty, the report said.