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Senator Seeks ABM Treaty Clarification

A KEY senator has called for clarification of the Bush administration's position on the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty with the Soviet Union following a report it might be moving toward abandoning the accord.

The White House said the administration intended to continue to abide by the 1972 treaty, which was designed to limit United States and Soviet defenses against long-range missiles.

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But a Washington Post story reported that the administration omitted the ABM treaty from a list of major arms accords it is telling former Soviet republics they should adhere to. Some officials say this step could lead to the abandonment of the treaty altogether.

Sen. Claiborne Pell (D) of Rhode Island, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a speech that the treaty remained the cornerstone of strategic arms control, and was needed to achieve a more stable and peaceful world environment.

At a briefing, administration spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the White House was proceeding with plans for a limited missile defense and that possible changes in the treaty would have to be considered when it was time to deploy the system.

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