Statement on an Agreement To Improve the Direct Communications Link Between the United States and the Soviet Union

July 17, 1984

I am happy to be able to announce today that we and the Soviet Union have reached agreement to expand and improve the operation of the direct communications link, or the hotline.

This agreement is a modest but positive step toward enhancing international stability and reducing the risk that accident, miscalculation, or misinterpretation could lead to confrontation or conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

With the addition of a facsimile capability, we will not only be able to exchange messages faster; but for the first time we will be able to send graphic material such as maps or pictures which would play a crucial role in helping to resolve certain types of crises or misunderstandings.

The negotiations which led to this agreement began about 1 year ago, August 1983, based upon a series of proposals that we first made in May 1983.

In developing this and other initiatives designed to reduce the risk of war due to accident, misunderstanding, or miscalculation, we had the benefit of excellent advice from a number of key congressional leaders, including Senators Warner and Nunn and the late Senator Jackson.

I see this agreement as both an appropriate technical improvement to the hotline, which has served both our governments well for over 20 years, and as a good example of how we can, working together, find approaches which can move us towards a reduction in the risks of war.