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After KAL 7: what should US do?

I begin with the strongest condemnation I can muster of the destruction of the Korean airliner and the consequent deaths of 269 innocent civilians on board. Averell joins me in this condemnation.

Not only was the Soviet action completely indefensible, but the attitude of the Soviet government following this tragedy has added insult to injury.

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Far from venturing to apologize, the Soviet Union has attempted to blame our nation for instigating the incident.

These Soviet actions demonstrate again that they are a country driven by fear and insecurity.

The difficult question is not how do we feel, but what do we do, and therein lies the dilemma for America today.

First, some say we now cannot trust the Soviets. I say we never have, and I ask how could we, for the reaction which resulted in the destruction of Korean Flight 7 is an instance of that ultimate reliance on force which led to Poland and Afghanistan, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

My second observation concerns the potential for miscalculation. During our meeting with President Yuri Andropov in June, he spoke of ''the threat of a war incomparable with the horrors we went through previously.'' ''This war,'' he said, ''may perhaps not occur through evil intent, but could happen through miscalculation.''

Regardless of who made the decision to fire on Flight 7, or under what set of assumptions, a terrible miscalculation occurred. That such a mistake can be made in today's explosive world should unsettle us all.

In this case, the Soviets had over two hours to decide. We can only pray that Soviet missile procedures are not governed by the same apparent rigidity, for if either side thought it saw a nuclear missile in flight, the time for decision would be less than half an hour.

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This leads to my third, and most important, observation - the necessity for nuclear arms control.

Arms control is not a favor we do for the Soviet Union.

Arms control is plain, hardheaded, calculated national interest - United States national interest.

President (Reagan's) hardline advice to decades of predecessors suddenly found no basis when confronted with the stark realities of the nuclear age.

Today, when we are again in crisis, with the shadows of confrontation growing and the clouds of conflict gathering anew, we need more than ever to follow the wise counsel of Winston Churchill when he said, ''It is better to jaw, jaw than to war, war.''

From a recent speech delivered to the Woman's National Democratic Club, Washington.

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