Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on International Terrorism

April 17, 1984

Acts of terrorism continue to plague us and our friends and allies. The toll of bombings, assassinations, and kidnapings bears terrible witness to the indiscriminate attacks and lawlessness that rules the behavior of terrorist groups. It is also apparent that several states have adopted these lawless acts as instruments of state policy. While we diligently seek the means to control this scourge, we must also take the steps that are necessary to protect our citizens, our institutions, and our friends and allies.

We have, in the course of a detailed review, reached some conclusions on what we must do to protect ourselves, and to assist others in protecting themselves from this growing threat. Our actions will be guided by the following principles: First, no nation can condone international terrorism. Second, it is the right of every legitimate government to resist the use of terrorism against its people, institutions, or property by all legal means available. Third, terrorism is a problem for all nations, and this government will work as closely as possible with other governments -- particularly other similarly threatened democracies -- to deal with it.

While we have cause for deep concern about the states that now practice or support terrorism, our policies are directed against all forms of international terrorism. The states that practice terrorism or actively support it cannot be allowed to do so without consequence. As a first step in dealing with these states, every channel of communication that is available to us will be used to dissuade them from the practice or support of terrorism. We will increase our efforts with other governments to obtain and exchange the information needed about states and groups involved in terrorist activities in order to prevent attacks, warn our people, our friends and allies, and reduce the risk. We will also do everything we can to see that acts of state-supported terrorism are publicized and condemned in every appropriate forum. When these efforts fail, however, it must be understood that when we are victimized by acts of terrorism we have the right to defend ourselves -- and the right to help others do the same.

Finally, it should be noted that our paramount interest is in improving our ability to prevent terrorist attacks on our citizens, installations, and those foreign persons and facilities in the U.S. we are obligated to protect. We believe we can best achieve these results through a combination of improved information and better security and protection. This does not present any change in U.S. policy -- rather, a refocused emphasis.