WASHINGTON -- The Senate Foreign Relations committee adopted a resolution Tuesday calling for negotiations with the Soviet Union for a moratorium on space testing of anti-satellite weapons.
The resolution urges President Reagan to seek 'an immediate, mutual and verifiable moratorium, of limited duration' on space testing of the weapons and calls for negotiations on banning anti-satellite weapons or any other space-directed or space-based weapons.
The committee action came a day after the Senate adopted 91-0 an amendment to the $200 billion military authorization bill under which testing of an anti-satellite warhead against space targets would be banned unless Reagan first agrees to try to negotiate a treaty with the Soviet Union and certifies testing is required in the interest of national security.
'The committee believes a space arms race must be avoided, if possible,' said Sen. Larry Pressler, R-S.D., a main sponsor. 'The consequences of such a race would be disastrous.'
Earlier in the day, more than 100 members of Congress and 40 scientists and former arms control negotiators asked Reagan to propose a U.S.-Soviet moratorium on testing of anti-satellite weapons.
They also backed measures by Rep. John Seiberling, D-Ohio, to ban all test flights of anti-satellite systems and by Rep. Joe Moakley, D-Mass., to prohibit use of any weapons in space or against space-based targets.
A moratorium 'could help avoid a potentially disastrous arms race in space,' the scientists and former negotiators said in a letter to Reagan.
Signers included Gerard Smith, chief U.S. negotiator for the SALT I strategic arms talks; Paul Warnke, chief U.S. negotiator for SALT II; and former CIA Director William Colby.
A companion letter endorsed by some 120 House members expressed deep concern about such an arms race and said, 'It is in the supreme national security interest of the United States to avoid such a race.'
The letter said, 'The continued development of anti-satellite capabilities would jeopardize our security, erode international stability and undermine the possibility of reaching future arms control agreements.'
Several of those attending a Capitol Hill news conference said they fear the expected U.S. testing of an F-15 anti-satellite weapon this summer would escalate the arms race to a dangerous and irreversible stage.
'While it is true these efforts may appear to be 'small steps' against the gaining momentum of the president's program, we believe they represent prudent and achievable actions through which we can prevent the further escalation of the strategic arms race,' Rep. Berkeley Bedell, D-Iowa, said.
Henry Kendall, chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said 'Preparations to attack Soviet satellites cannot protect our own satellites. The best protection is to retard Soviet ASAT technology, and our own, by agreement.'
Moakley said administration officials 'recently hinted' they would be willing to include space weapons in arms talks now under way in Geneva, but 'I believe that we need a firmer commitment from the administration.'