Senate Calls for CIA To Quit Mining Ports

Oklahoman Published: April 11, 1984
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The Senate approved a non-binding resolution Tuesday 84-12 calling for an end to othe use of CIA funds to assist in the mining of Nicaraguan ports.

The Republican leadership agreed to support the measure in return for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's agreement to defer a companion proposal demanding that the administration reverse its decision to remove its Central American policies from World Court jurisdiction for two years.

Nicaragua has appealed the mining issue to the World Court.

Sen. Larry Pressler, R-S.D., said the compromise was outlined to Republican senators by Kenneth Dam, deputy secretary of state, at a closed-door meeting before the vote.

"I think they want to liquidate the political damage," Pressler said. "The thing is not working, so they want to get it over with and go on to the next thing."

Pressler voted for the compromise, although he said, "The administration has left us who supported the administration package (of aid to El Salvador and Nicaraguan guerrillas) in a difficult position."

Both U.S. senators from Oklahoma, David Boren, Seminole Democrat, and Don Nickles, Ponca City Republican, voted for the resolution.

As part of the agreement, Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker agreed to vote for the Kennedy resolution on mining and Kennedy agreed to put off the matter of the World Court action until after a 10-day congressional Easter recess that starts Friday.

Baker said that if Central American developments during the recess warranted further congressional action, he would confer with Kennedy and others to work out procedures for taking the appropriate steps.

In other Central America developments: The CIA decision to mine harbors in Nicaragua was approved by President Reagan on the recommendation of White House national security affairs adviser Robert McFarlane and the Pentagon, despite "'misgivings" expressed by Secretary of State George Shultz, informed administration officials said.

These officials said the proposal was presented to Reagan as part of a "'scaled-down" CIA plan of "harassment" to cripple the economy of Nicaragua and make it more difficult for its Sandinista government to aid leftist rebels in nearby El Salvador.

The CIA, under mounting criticism for its role in mining Nicaragua's harbors, may begin "pulling the plug" on its support for anti-government rebels in a week if Congress doesn't approve $21 million in new money, a senior administration official said.

The laying of mines was ontroversial even within the CIA, according to one official in the agency, who said there was "'not a consensus" on whether to support it during the planning stage. The CIA views its involvement as a "holding action" until the covert war could be stepped up if Reagan is re-elected in November, according to a senior administration official.

The White House Tuesday disclaimed any such political strategy, but Reagan has said on several occasions to senior officials he does not intend to "lose any country to communism on our watch."

President Reagan denounced Cuba Tuesday for exporting "violence and hatred," while administration officials said guerrillas plan a major offensive in El Salvador with arms shipped from Cuba, via Nicaragua.

The prediction of a guerrilla offensive was part of an administration efort to justify the CIA's involvement in mining harbors in Nicaragua an action partly designed to undercut that marxist nation's ability to support the Salvadoran insurgency.

The Soviet ambassador to the United Nations said his country would consider any Nicaraguan request to clear its harbors of mines.

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