Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger ordered new security curbs yesterday on up to 60,000 military and civilian employes with access to secret codes and cryptographic equipment. Among those affected by the curbs are some workers at the National Security Agency, where Ronald William Pelton, accused of being a Soviet spy, had a top-secret clearance.
The restrictions, proposed last week in a Pentagon report on military security, were the first public countermeasures to a rash of spying arrests involving intelligence and military employes.
Weinberger's order for restrictions on cryptographic material follows calls by Reagan administration and congressional officials for stronger counterintelligence measures to combat foreign espionage.
The Defense Department, in a report requested by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, recommended that the government adopt tight controls over access by Pentagon employes to codes and coding equipment. Similar controls were dropped in 1975 because they were regarded as too burdensome to maintain over the hundreds of thousands of workers with access to secret cryptographic materials.
Pentagon spokesman Robert B. Sims said yesterday that the new security measures would be "narrowly focused" on 50,000 to 60,000 workers with access to the most sensitive data and equipment. He said many probably work at the NSA, the agency responsible for sending and receiving coded military data and intercepting and decoding foreign communications.
Sims said the restrictions would involve briefings to "sensitize" employes to spying dangers, new limits on access to codes and equipment and possibly regular lie-detector tests for some workers.