Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger said here today that Western Europe and Japan must do more militarily in the Persian Gulf if there is to be "any permanent hope of containing Soviet political intimidation."
Speaking before the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House as a small band of demonstrators out front shouted, "Weinberger the warmonger," the U.S. defense secretary cautioned against relying solely on "the threat of direct U.S.-U.S.S.R. military confrontation" to protect oil in the gulf.
Western Europe and Japan dare not settle for merely increasing their trade and diplomatic contacts with nations in Southwest Asia as their contribution toward keeping the oil fields out of unfriendly hands, he warned.
Without specifying which nations should do what, Weinberger indicated that "some" European countries and Japan should stand ready to help rush forces to the Persian Gulf by air and sea. "Others can increase their assistance for nations directly threatened by the Soviets," he said. "The means can vary. The goal remains unchanged: to deter aggression by strength."
Declaring that it is only a matter of time before the Soviet Union runs out of oil within its own country and then seeks to get it elsewhere, Weinberger said "the central question of the 1980s" is whether the West has "the will to respond in concert to a new global challenge" posed by the future scramble for such limited natural resources.
His remarks come against the backdrop of decisions in Washington to reduce U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf in the belief the immediate threat to oil there has diminished. Warships had to be diverted from the Pacific and Mediterranean to cover the gulf and Navy crews had to endure extremely long deployment at sea.
With the full support of the U.S. military, Weinberger's speech here today amounted to an appeal to Japan and allied nations in Europe to recognize that the United States cannot cover all the trouble spots in the Persian Gulf; that they must help protect the oil supply that they depend on more heavily than the United States.
He also urged European allies to stick to the NATO plan of deploying 464 cruise missiles and 108 Pershing II battlefield missiles on the continent, including 160 cruise missiles here in Britain. The first cruise missiles are scheduled to become operational in Italy and West Germany in 1983.
This plan has generated highly visible protests in Europe. A big demonstration is planned by Britain's resurgent Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament on Saturday in London. Some U.S. defense officials in the Weinberger party admit that they are worried this protest movement may delay, if not derail, the NATO plan to modernize theater nuclear forces. NATO defense ministers at their recent meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, agreed to step up their efforts to win acceptance of the new nuclear missiles.