Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Soviet Attack on a Korean Civilian Airliner

September 7, 1983

The Soviet TASS ``news analysis'' of September 7 on ``Larry Speakes' Strange Logic,'' has come to my attention. In it, their commentator Yuriy Kornilov writes that his country will continue to act ``in compliance with Soviet laws'' which call for the shooting down of unarmed aircraft which may chance to fly over their airspace. This comes on the heels of the Soviet Government's admission of yesterday that its forces shot down the unarmed airliner of another country on August 31 and killed 269 people from 13 countries. This admission came only after the truth was known everywhere else in the world -- and even known to some in the Soviet Union through BBC, VOA and other international broadcast outlets that bring the facts to the truth-starved people under the control of the Soviet regime. The admission, however, was coupled with a flat Soviet statement saying they will take the same action in the future in similar circumstances -- in other words, that they will shoot down the next offcourse unarmed aircraft that transgresses the territory prescribed by Soviet law.

As Under Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said yesterday, the international community is being asked to accept that the Soviet Union is not bound by the norms of international behavior and human decency to which all other nations subscribe.

Fortunately, the international community is not accepting this, and continues to ask -- at the United Nations in particular -- that the Soviets provide a full accounting of what transpired, an unequivocal apology for Soviet actions, restitution for the victims' families, full cooperation with international efforts to investigate this tragedy and recover its victims, and assurances that the Soviet Union will take specific steps to ensure that the massacre of August 31 not occur again. The case is in no way closed by the Soviet admission of yesterday.

Note: Deputy Press Secretary Larry M. Speakes read the statement during his daily briefing for reporters, which began at 12:30 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.