The Senate yesterday approved, 95 to 0, a House-passed resolution condemning the Soviet Union's "criminal destruction of the Korean civilian airliner" after rejecting proposals by Republican conservatives to add tough sanctions opposed by the Reagan administration.
The sanctions, proposed by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and seven others, were turned down, mostly by large margins, after leaders of both parties said that the main purpose of the exercise was a speedy, unanimous and bipartisan statement of condemnation.
"It is more important to speak with one voice than to argue among ourselves about shades of opinion," Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Charles H. Percy (R-Ill.) said in rejecting Helms' contention that the resolution amounted to little more than "rhetorical tongue-lashing."
In an apparent final blow to Helms' efforts, Percy produced what he called "specific comments from the administration this morning" that rejected or otherwise dismissed each of Helms' seven proposals. "The White House somehow got conned into it. I can't believe Ronald Reagan knew about it," Helms protested later to reporters.
The resolution, approved Wednesday by the House, 416 to 0, condemns the "coldblooded barbarous attack" by the Soviets on the Korean Air Lines 747 Aug. 31 as "one of the most infamous and reprehensible acts in history."
It also calls for an international inquiry, a full explanation by the Soviets and multinational efforts to induce the Soviets to apologize, compensate families of the 269 victims and agree to abide by rules to assure that such an incident is not repeated.
The closest Senate vote, 49 to 45, came on a proposal by Sen. Walter D. Huddleston (D-Ky.) to reduce the number of Soviet officials in this country to the number of Americans stationed in the Soviet Union.
Helms' most far-reaching proposals were rejected by large margins, although his call for President Reagan to report to Congress on Soviet compliance with existing arms control agreements lost by a relatively narrow 50 to 45.
His proposal for temporary recall of the U.S. ambassador to Moscow lost, 70 to 25, and a call on Reagan to "conduct a comprehensive reappraisal of the complete spectrum of United States-Soviet relations, including arms control, human rights, East-West trade and regional issues" was rejected, 69 to 26. Making the 747 incident and other U.S.-Soviet tensions an issue in arms negotiations was rejected, 82 to 14.
A tightening of export controls lost, 66 to 28, and a proposal that Reagan "reemphasize the inconsistence of the Soviet military presence in the Western Hemisphere with the Monroe Doctrine" lost, 60 to 36. A call for use of existing law to bar Soviet imports produced "with the use of forced labor" lost, 52 to 43.
Each of the rejections was in the form of a "tabling" motion, by which senators can contend that they were not necessarily voting against a proposal's merits.
The resolution of condemnation, although nonbinding, now goes to Reagan for his signature. The five absent senators included presidential candidates John Glenn (D-Ohio), Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) and Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.). The others were Russell B. Long (D-La.) and Larry Pressler (R-S.D.).
In arguing for his proposals, Helms said the only question was whether the resolution would have "some teeth." He added, "Do you know what the Soviet Union is going to say about his resolution? They're going to say, 'Big deal, big deal' . . . . It's like prosecuting Al Capone on a weapons charge."
But Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and others said the resolution would have a strong impact. "Never before have we declared an act of the Soviets a crime, and that is not a small thing," he said.
Helms said later that seven or eight senators told him that they would have voted for his proposals but for the fact that Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) asked them not to.