Statement on Action by the House of Representatives on the Nuclear Arms Freeze Resolution

May 5, 1983

Nearly 2 months ago, the House of Representatives began a serious debate about alternative approaches to arms control. This debate, one of the longest in the history of the House, not only elevated understanding of the issues, but made it clear that the issues themselves are enormously complex. There are no easy answers to arms control.

During this debate, it became apparent to more and more Members of the House that an immediate freeze, while superficially appealing, is fundamentally flawed. For more than 30 years, we have maintained world peace because the United States maintained effective forces of deterrence; we must not jeopardize our ability to keep the peace. Nor can we lock the United States into a position of inferiority. And we must not take any steps that would disrupt the highly sensitive arms reduction negotiations underway in Geneva.

I am pleased that a great number in Congress came to recognize the threats posed by a simple ``freeze now'' approach and passed amendments that sought to improve the final resolution passed by the House. The Levitas amendment was especially welcome, because it recognizes the importance of arms reduction in achieving genuine arms control.

The balance of the resolution that was passed last night is ambiguous and, indeed, so internally inconsistent that interpretation is difficult. For example, the resolution calls for a freeze while also expressing the need for maintaining equivalence and a stable international balance. As stated many times before, this administration agrees that the maintenance of an arms balance is essential. But an immediate freeze would prevent us from having it. In sum, the resolution finally adopted by the House, while greatly improved, is not an answer to arms control that I can responsibly support.

Should this debate now move on to the Senate, I am confident that the doubts and opposition to a simple freeze now will continue to grow. In the meantime, this administration will continue to press forward vigorously at the negotiating table for arms reductions that I believe remain the best, true hope for peace and stability.