ON May 27, the White House issued an announcement of historic consequence. The United States, it said, would ``no longer be bound'' by the limitations of the SALT II arms control agreement. The immediate impact of this announcement was lessened by word that the President had directed the dismantling of two Poseidon submarines, which will keep the US in compliance with the major numerical limitations of SALT II until later this year.
The announcement, however, means that this fall, when our 131st B-52, equipped with air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM), becomes operational, the administration does not intend to take the compensatory steps necessary to keep the US within the limitation governing the aggregate of MIRVed missile launchers and ALCM-equipped bombers.
We have thus been given early warning of a momentous and dangerous step which we still have time to avert. It is to prevent that step that I have introduced, with Sen. Bill Cohen (R) of Maine, legislation that would require that the US remain within the numerical limitations on strategic nuclear weapons systems required by the SALT II treaty.
The legislation is simple and self-explanatory. It would prohibit any expenditure of funds for deployment or maintenance above the levels of the SALT II limits unless the Soviet Union violated the limits or the President and Congress agreed that exceeding the limits is necessary to maintain American national security interests.
While this legislation was introduced as a free-standing bill, we intend to propose it as an amendment to appropriate legislation under consideration by the Senate in the near future, to ensure its timely consideration.
I deeply regret having reached the conclusion that such legislation is necessary. I believe, as a matter of principle, that the president of the US must be allowed as much flexibility as possible in conducting the foreign policy of the United States. In the case of SALT II, however, we face the functional equivalent of a national emergency.