President Reagan plans to speak at his alma mater Sunday on arms control issues, and may outline his administration's approach to a new round of strategic arms limitation talks (SALT), White House officials said yesterday.
The White House announced that an inter-agency task force working on proposals for the negotiations--now called START (strategic arms reductions talks)--had completed its work and forwarded a set of options to the president.
Meanwhile, informed sources said Reagan would use the commencement address at Eureka College in Eureka, Ill., to speak on arms control.
Whether the president will have made final choices on a new negotiating initiative in time to describe them Sunday remains unclear. The administration has been sharply divided on how best to measure the destructive power of thermonuclear warheads, something it hopes to limit in any new arms agreement with the Soviet Union.
The SALT I and II agreements made no attempt to limit destructive power, but instead put limitations on the numbers of missiles and bombers each side could have. SALT II also limited the numbers of warheads that could be put on each side's missiles. SALT II was never ratified, but the Soviet Union and the United States have continued to recognize its limitations.
The Soviets have built much larger missiles and warheads than the United States, so by almost any measurement they now have more destructive power on their strategic weapons than the United States does. However, the United States has a lead of about 2,000 in individual warheads.
According to sources, the Reagan administration is likely to offer a deal in which the United States would give up some warheads if the Soviets give up some of their largest weapons. The administration also wants to concentrate on missile warheads, leaving bombers and their bombs out of any new equation to try to control the arms race.