Statement on Soviet Union Withdrawal From the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Negotiations

November 23, 1983

I deeply regret that the Soviet Union has chosen to discontinue the present round of Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces negotiations in Geneva. While their decision did not come as a surprise, it is a terrible disappointment. The search for an agreement to reduce nuclear weapons is so important to people everywhere that the effort cannot be abandoned.

Common sense demands that we continue. We have negotiated for 2 years while the Soviets have continued to deploy their SS - 20 missiles. There is no justification for their breaking off negotiations just as NATO is beginning to restore the balance. The United States will never walk away from the negotiating table. Peace is too important.

We are prepared to resume the talks at once. The initiatives we have placed on the negotiating table have only one objective: to reach a fair agreement that reduces the level of nuclear arms. The United States and its NATO allies are united in our commitment to succeed.

We have no higher priority than the reduction of nuclear weapons. Arms reductions are the only sound course to a safer future. We seek sound and verifiable agreements that meet the legitimate security interests of both sides.

We are continuing other negotiations with the Soviet Union -- on strategic arms reductions, on the reduction of conventional forces in Europe, on a chemical weapons ban and, soon, on confidence-building measures aimed at preventing military surprises in Europe.

The people of the world deserve and want our negotiations to succeed. We look forward to the day when the Soviet Union hears their call and returns to the INF negotiating table. Our negotiations have been on the right course. We must persevere if we are to serve the cause of peace.