In his first major address on the new strategic arms limitation treaty (SALT), Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) last night urged the Senate to rise above partisanship and "the trap of technicalites" and approve the agreement.
Church this year assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which tentatively plans to begin hearings on SALT the last week of June.
Rejecting SALT II, Church told a dinner to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the International Research and Exchanges Board, would "move us closer to the edge of the abyss" of nuclear war.
"Already," Church said, "the nuclear theologians intone their intimidating litany of awkward acronyms, throwweights, yields and kill ratios, as though Armageddon could be reduced to a computer printout."
The temptation to discuss the consequenes of nuclear war in terms of cold statistics, Church said, amounted to "mindless inattention to the awesome danger of nuclear arms" which he characterized as "the great moral blindness of our time."
"I have heard one [expert] say that only 10 percent of mankind would die as a direct consequence of an all-out nuclear war," Church said. "What presumption. What specious precision."
Church outlined the principles he said the Senate should adopt for its SALT debate. They should include, he said, an absence of partisanship, a willingness to vote the treaty up or down rather than try to kill it with modifications, a desire to understand the Soviet stake in SALT, and a willingness to debate the treaty on its merits and not in terms of unrelated issues in other arenas.
He said the Senate must meet "the question of verification . . . in a meaningful manner." He rejected the idea that the loss of listening posts in Iran could make a critical difference in U.S. abilities to monitor Soviet compliance with SALT.
"If our security is that razor thin," Church said, "then we are already in very deep trouble."
The object of verification, Church said, should be "to detect any Russian cheating that represents a threat. This does not mean the detection of a pattern of activities by the Russians that violate the treaty, undermine the SALT process or threaten our security."
Church suggested the Soviets would be foolish to decide the cheat because they could never be sure they wouldn't be caught, and if they were caught that would produce "an extreme exacerbation of the arms race" and a much more dangerous world.
Another senator spoke out on SALT for the first time in New York yesterday. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D.N.Y.) told a meeting of the American Jewish Committee, "I want to vote for the treaty."
Moynihan said "there is a compelling case for continuing the process" of negotiating arms control with the Soviet Union, "and for the moment this [SALT] is all we have."
But Moynihan said he could only vote for SALT II if he receives "the kind of assurances from the administration that will enable me to do so."
He said he wanted the Carter administration to take a firmer line with the Soviet Union on issues like the presence of Soviet spies in the U.N. Secretariat, a violation of the U.N. charter, and Soviet eavesdropping on U.S. telephone calls using aerials on top of diplomatic missions in this country. He urged the adminstration to face up to Soviet intentions and insist on "compliance with agreements once made" in all fields. CAPTION: Picture, Church, right, and colleagues Jacob Javits (R.N.Y.) and Claiborne Pell (D.R.I.) at White House for SALT briefing. UPI