STAR WARS AT THE CROSSROADS

Amid arms-control maneuvers and budget battles, SDI nears a moment of truth

At the moment, the Strategic Defense Initiative is a starry vision rather than an actual weapons program. It exists only in the mind's eye of Ronald Reagan and on the blinking computer screens and slide projectors of an array of purposeful scientists. Yet the President's concept of a space-based shield against nuclear weapons—the most radical plan put forward by any Administration since the dawn of the nuclear age—has become the single most powerful force affecting Soviet-American relations. It is also becoming the chief element in an intensifying showdown, within the Administration as well as at the bargaining table in Geneva, over...

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