Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), who is playing a tense game of political poker with the Carter administration for his vote on SALT II, restated and slightly toughened his position yesterday while still leaving room for a compromise with the White House.
Releasing a speech he intends to deliver in the Senate today, Nunn said again that he still seeks an administration commitment to increase defense spending "on the order of 5 percent annulally or more," after inflation, between 1981 and 1985. The administration has declined to make that commitment. It will show senators an outline of its defense spending plans for fiscal 1981 and the 1981-85 period later this month, prior to the SALT vote.
Nunn added to his "bare minimum" requirement a request for an administration commitment to set "a limit on the proportion of manpower costs in the defense budget." An advocate of reinstituting the military draft, Nunn thinks too many defense dollars are spent on salaries and fringe benefits.
"Above all," Nunn said, "I will be looking for leadership" from President Carter. Carter must tell the country and the world that the military balance has deteriorated dangerously and that strong steps are needed to improve it, Nunn declared. He warned NATO countries and Japan that they, too, will have to do much more to defend themselves.
Nunn's vote on SALT II is expected to influence several other senators, and thus could be vital to the treaty's prospects.