NEW YORK -- Former President Jimmy Carter lashed out at President Reagan, accusing him of habitually misstating the record of the U.S. military modernization program and of following a national security agenda doomed to failure, The New York Times said Sunday.
Apparently stung by Reagan's speech last week on military spending, Carter said in an interview with the Times, the president keeps making statements 'he knows are not true and personally promised me not to repeat.'
Carter's criticism of Reagan was the harshest he has publicly made against his successor, the Times said. The Times noted that the former president arranged the interview with the newspaper.
White House spokesman Ben Jarratt told the Times there would be no response from Reagan to Carter's remarks.
Reagan had said before he took office military affairs had been neglected for a decade and his program represented 'the first significant improvement' in nuclear deterrence in 20 years.
Carter, who lost to Reagan in the 1980 election, argued, however, that almost all strategic nuclear weapons programs had been started by him and Presidents Nixon and Ford, the Times said.
He told the newspaper the Carter Administration had seen a 'steady and predictable' increase in spending that surpassed the best intelligence estimates of Soviet expansion.
'It is also clear that substantial improvements have continued during the last five years,' the Times quoted Carter as saying. 'But some of the policies of this Administration have endangered the national consensus that is necessary for sustained, efficient, and predictable improvements in the future.'
The former president pointed to his decision to produce the 10-warhead MX missile and develop the advanced Stealth bomber, which will be difficult to detect by radar, the Times said.
He told the newspaper his program to deploy 200 mobile MX missiles in 4,600 horizontal launching shelters provided a 'feasible' basing system that would have been invulnerable to attack.
Carter said the plan had therefore been a stabilizing influence on Soviet-American relations, adding that Reagan's decision to abandon it was based on the opposition of 'very key Republican Western states,' the Times reported.
He charged that Reagan's plan to put 100 MX missiles in fixed silos diminished Congressional enthusiasm for them and created an inviting target for Soviet war planners, the Times said.
Carter argued his covert assistance to Moslem rebels in Afghanistan had some possibility of preventing a final Soviet victory there, while Reagan's desire to support anti-Communist insurgents in countries such as Nicaragua and Angola appeared to have little chance of success, the newspaper reported.