Statement on Arms Control Policies and Negotiations

September 21, 1982

In our efforts to help build a more stable and peaceful world, there is no more essential objective than to shape defense and arms control policies which will guarantee the safety of our nation and of our allies. Shortly after assuming office, I called for a comprehensive evaluation of our arms control policies and proposals for new initiatives. In doing so, I outlined the general principles which should guide formation of our arms control policies.

-- Arms control must be an instrument of, and not a substitute for, a coherent security policy aimed in the first instance at the Soviet advantage in the most destabilizing class of weapons, those on ballistic missiles, and especially intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM's). We will work for agreements that truly enhance security by reinforcing peace through deterrence.

-- We must seek agreements which involve substantial and militarily significant reductions on both sides.

-- Agreements must be based on the principle of equality of rights and limits.

-- Arms control agreements must include effective means of verification. They cannot be based on trust alone.

-- Our efforts will be guided by seriousness of purpose, reflected in our willingness to seek reduction to significantly lower levels of nuclear forces, based on equal, balanced levels of comparable systems.

These principles are in full accord with the basic purpose for both U.S. and NATO security policy -- ensuring the peace through deterrence of aggression. Deterring nuclear or conventional attack against ourselves or our allies must guide our approach to defense and arms control. These principles also lie at the heart of the comprehensive and innovative arms control approaches which this administration has adopted. In each of the three most important areas of arms control -- strategic nuclear arms, intermediate-range nuclear forces, and conventional forces in Europe -- we have presented to the Soviet Union bold and equitable proposals, proposals which are in our mutual interest and which provide the opportunity to enhance world security and peace by significantly reducing the arsenals of both sides.

In each of these three negotiations the United States has presented considered and equitable proposals which seek to establish a military equilibrium at reduced levels, eliminate the most destabilizing factors in the existing military balance, and enhance the security of both sides. When our national security and that of our allies is at stake, we must approach arms control realistically. We do not seek agreements for their own sake, we seek them to build international security and stability.

This administration's reductions proposals for strategic and intermediate-range nuclear forces, and for conventional forces, reflect this approach. We are encouraged by the serious and businesslike conduct of these negotiations thus far. Although much hard bargaining lies ahead, I am determined to bargain in good faith until our objectives can be realized. We urge on our Soviet negotiating partners equal seriousness of purpose.

Our arms control policies will continue to receive my close personal attention. Ambassadors Rowny, Nitze, and Staar have been in Washington recently during scheduled recesses in the negotiations. In each area we have carefully assessed the status of negotiations and our positions. In each case the negotiations remain on course, and our three negotiators will return shortly with a renewed mandate to pursue our objectives.

Prior to their departure, Ambassadors Rowny and Nitze will brief the Congress on the negotiations. Such regular consultations are also an essential part of our approach. This administration can have no higher purpose than to achieve progress toward meaningful arms control which promotes international peace and security.

Note: On the same day, the President met in the Oval Office with Ambassadors Paul H. Nitze, Edward L. Rowny, and Richard F. Staar, who were preparing to return to Europe for the next round of the three major arms reduction negotiations in which the United States is involved: Ambassador Nitze to Geneva, Switzerland, on September 30, for negotiations on intermediate-range nuclear forces; Ambassador Rowny to Geneva on October 6, for the second round of the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START); Ambassador Staar to Vienna, Austria, on September 23, to commence the next round of talks on the reduction of conventional forces in Europe, the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction Talks (MBFR).

Other participants in the meeting included Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, Eugene V. Rostow, Director of the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs William P. Clark, and Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Robert C. McFarlane.