The United States should not change its military plans, such as delaying a controversial test of its new antisatellite weapon, to assist in negotiating an arms control agreement, Kenneth L. Adelman, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee yesterday.
The Air Force has set its first test of the antisatellite weapon against a target in space for Friday, according to sources in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.
But, according to congressional sources, the administration may have stepped up its test plan because of the negotiations or the November summit meeting.
As of mid-July, these sources said yesterday, the Air Force had no plans to test the weapon in September. At that time, both the weapon and its instrumented target had been returned to their manufacturers to fix problems. They were not expected to be available for use before November.
Thus when House-Senate conferees on the 1987 defense spending bill met in July to iron out their differences, the Pentagon agreed to a provision that limited the Air Force to three tests against a target in space through the end of fiscal 1986.
"They said they would not have a test before the new fiscal year began in October," one conferee recalled yesterday.
In early August, according to Pentagon sources, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger and President Reagan agreed to test the weapon against an old U.S. satellite "to show resolve."
Without the originally planned instrumented device as the target, the Air Force will not be able to gather as much data on the weapon's performance.
In addition, if the test occurs as planned, the Air Force may stage only two more tests over the next 12 months under the present House-Senate conference agreement.
Meanwhile, critics of the weapon, including four members of Congress, have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington seeking to block the test, arguing that Reagan has not met a congressional requirement that he certify he is negotiating "in good faith" to get an agreement with the Soviets limiting such weapons. Oral arguments in that case are set for today.
Yesterday's subcommittee session was hastily organized by Rep. Dante B. Fascell (D-Fla.) to question Adelman about the certification issue. At one point, Fascell said he believed that the administration was in "difficulty" on the certification because it had not tried to negotiate any kind of antisatellite agreement with the Soviets.
Adelman responded that he would like to meet with the members in closed session to discuss the U.S. negotiating position. But after an hour of public testimony, he cut short his appearance to attend a White House meeting of arms control advisers working up instructions for the U.S. negotiators, who return to Geneva next week.
Rep. George E. Brown Jr. (D-Calif.), one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told the subcommittee the presidential certification was "less than candid" and "circumvented the intent and will of the Congress."
Brown also criticized the problem-plagued weapon, which already is two years behind schedule, saying that the Pentagon talks about "how vital to the national security the system is, right up to the day they cancel it."
Adelman argued that testing "would not impair" negotiations and "can constitute an incentive to the Soviet Union to reach agreements on a wide range of issues.