CANBERRA, Australia -- U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said today his warnings of a growing Soviet threat to world peace are not 'scare tactics' because Moscow is capable of fighting in the East and West simultaneously.
Weinberger told the National Press Club the Soviet Union had valuable new bases at Cam Ranh Bay and Da Nang in Vietnam -- two big installations abandoned by the United States when the communists overran South Vietnam in 1975.
'They have a capability of being able to fight in the East and West simultaneously,' Weinberger said.
'The Soviet threat, I think, can only be properly and accurately described, without any desire for any scare tactics or anything other than complete accuracy ... as very large and growing very rapidly and becoming very dangerous.'
Earlier Weinberger, in Australia for a three-day visit as part of a five-nation tour of Asia, held talks with senior Australian government ministers and Labor Party opposition members.
Acting Prime Minister Doug Anthony, standing in for Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser who is hospitalized with a back problem, said the talks emphasized the importance of the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States) alliance.
'Australia regards the ANZUS Alliance as central to Australia's defense strategy and sees itself as making an important contribution to the alliance,' Anthony said.
Weinberger also met with Opposition leader Bill Hayden and his deputy, Lionel Bowen. Bowen told reporters that Weinberger found 'no problems' with Labor policies.
The Labor Party has traditionally opposed visits to Australian ports by nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed warships.
The party has said it is satisfied with the operations of three of the four large American bases in Australia but is concerned that the North West Cape radio facility may have some first-strike nuclear attack role.
Weinberger has visited Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia on his 11-day tour to warn U.S. allies in Asia and the Pacific of a Soviet military build-up in the area and to urge them to increase their defense commitment.
The defense secretary travels to Sydney Saturday and leaves for Wellington, New Zealand, Sunday, winding up his five-nation tour.