Letter to Members of Congress on Deployment of the MX Missile

November 22, 1982

For many years, U.S. strategic forces have helped protect our Nation and the Free World by providing a capable and effective deterrent. Maintenance of these forces has historically enjoyed broad bipartisan support.

In recent years, our deterrent has become increasingly vulnerable in the face of a relentless Soviet military buildup. As part of our program to modernize the U.S. deterrent, I asked last year that you support improving the capability and survivability of the land-based component of our strategic forces by authorizing development and deployment of the MX intercontinental ballistic missile. I also agreed earlier this year to provide you with a permanent basing decision by December 1.

In response to this requirement, the Department of Defense forwarded to me a series of basing options, with associated analyses of technical, environmental, arms control, and other factors. I have also received the counsel of my senior advisers, former Presidents and Administration officials, and Members of Congress. After careful study, I have decided to emplace 100 MX missiles, now known as ``Peacekeeper,'' in superhard silos in a closely-spaced basing mode at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. Given Congressional support, these missiles will have an initial operational capability late in 1986. I am prepared also to consider deception and possibly ballistic missile defense, which are options if the Soviet Union continues its military buildup.

We all hope, however, that the Soviets will join us in seeking meaningful progress in arms control negotiations. This MX decision supports and complements the U.S. approach to arms control. While the U.S. must and will improve its forces to maintain a credible deterrent, we remain fully commited to our standing proposals for significant reductions in both sides' nuclear arsenals. We seek to reduce ballistic missiles by about one-half and ballistic missile warheads by about one-third.

Under separate cover, I am sending you a copy of my full statement on the decision outlined above. I ask that you keep an open mind on this complex and important question and permit the Administration to make its case for the decision. We are prepared to respond, at your convenience, to formal and informal requests for additional information that you may desire. I look forward to receiving your counsel and assistance as we work toward our common goal of improving the security of our Nation.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan

Note: As printed above, the item follows the text of the letter released by the Office of the Press Secretary.

Letters were also sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate notifying them of the deployment decision.