Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Strategic Defense Initiative

November 27, 1984

Since the advent of nuclear weapons, we have largely depended upon the threat of prompt nuclear retaliation to deter aggression. This approach has worked, and we, along with our allies, have succeeded in protecting Western security for more than three decades. At the same time, we are constantly searching for better ways to strengthen peace and stability.

On March 23, 1983, the President announced a decision to take an important first step toward investigating the possibility of an alternative future which did not rely solely on nuclear retaliation for our security. This involves an intensified research program aimed at establishing how we might eliminate the threat posed by nuclear armed ballistic missiles.

The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) is a research program consistent with all our treaty commitments, including the 1972 ABM treaty. The United States is committed to the negotiation of equal and verifiable agreements which bring real reductions in the nuclear arsenals of both sides. To that end, the President has offered the Soviet Union the most comprehensive set of arms control proposals in history. We are working tirelessly for the success of these efforts, but we can and must be prepared to go further. It is intended that our research efforts under the SDI complement these arms reduction efforts and help to pave the way to a more stable and secure world.

In the near term, SDI research and development responds to the massive Soviet ABM effort, which includes actual deployments and thus provides a powerful deterrent to a Soviet breakout of the ABM treaty. In the long term, SDI may be the means by which both the United States and the Soviet Union can safely agree to very deep reductions and perhaps someday even the elimination of offensive nuclear arms.

In short, through the SDI research program the President has called on the best scientific minds in our country to turn their collective talents toward the cause of strengthening world peace by establishing the feasibility of rendering nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete. In doing so, the United States seeks neither military superiority or political advantage. Our single purpose with this initiative is to search for ways to make the world a safer place.