Statement on Direct Communication Links Between the United States and the Soviet Union

April 12, 1983

I am pleased to note the completion of the report of the Secretary of Defense on Direct Communication Links and Other Measures to Enhance Stability. I believe that the proposals in this report, which was prepared in accordance with Public Law 97 - 252, are fully consistent with our goal of reducing the risk of nuclear war.

The Department of Defense report recommends a number of new measures. Of special note are those measures proposed to improve communications and build confidence between the United States and the Soviet Union. They include: addition of a high-speed facsimile capability to the Direct Communications Link (Hotline), which would permit the transmission of full pages of text and maps and graphs; the establishment of a Joint Military Communications Link, which would be a high-speed facsimile link between the U.S. National Military Command Center and its Soviet counterpart; and the upgrading of existing diplomatic communications channels with higher speed data transmission capability. Also included is a proposal for an agreement, open to all states, which would call on the signatories to consult with each other in the event of a nuclear incident involving a terrorist group.

The Department of Defense recommendations complement the arms reductions proposals which the U.S. already has made to the Soviet Union in both Strategic Arms Reduction Talks and the negotiations on Intermediate Nuclear Forces.

The initiatives also complement the confidence-building measures the United States already has proposed to the Soviet Union in the START and INF negotiations. Those measures would reduce the danger that nuclear war could ever arise from accident, misinterpretation, or miscalculation. They include proposals that the two sides notify each other in advance of all launches of intercontinental, submarine-launched, and land-based, longer range intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Additionally, they would require each party to provide advance notice of major military exercises involving nuclear forces and to exchange information of unprecedented breadth and detail about their strategic and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Over the next few weeks, I will be giving the recommendations in the Defense Department report my full consideration.