THE Soviets are mounting a full-scale attack on President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, ``star wars,'' on the ground that it will militarize space. Notwithstanding, it has been agreed between Secretary Shultz and Foreign Minister Gromyko that this weapon, now only in the research stage, will be subject, without any moratorium, to negotiations as part of the triad of the forthcoming arms control talks.
I am not a scientist and not qualified to assess whether there is any prospect whatever that science and technology can, at any time in the foreseeable future, make nuclear weapons ``impotent and obsolete,'' the President's goal.
I am, however, competent to comment on aspects of the Soviet statements about the dangers of nuclear militarization of space. This is because I was the chief negotiator of the Treaty on Outer Space of 1967, ratified both by the United States and the Soviet Union as well as almost 100 other nations.
The press correctly reports that ``star wars,'' if and when deployed, whether nuclear or nonnuclear, would violate the ABM Treaty of 1972. The same is true in a lesser degree of the large radar installation in central Siberia, near the city of Krasnoyarsk.
It is passing strange that there is virtually no mention in the media or by spokesmen of the Soviet Union or the United States of the Outer Space Treaty and its relationship to militarization of space.
Deployment of ``star wars,'' in addition to formidable scientific and technological obstacles, would require revision or withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, whether the weapon system of ``star wars'' is conventional or nuclear.
And nuclear militarization of space by ``star wars,'' if its missiles were nuclear and such weapons were stationed in outer space, would likewise require repudiation or revision of the Treaty of Outer Space. The same would be true of lasers, if lasers are weapons of mass destruction.
It follows that the negotiations and public comment about ``star wars'' must take into account the ABM Treaty and Outer Space Treaty.
Arthur J. Goldberg, former associate justice of the Supreme Court and former UN ambassador, was chief negotiator of the Treaty on Outer Space.