Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on Arms Control Talks With the Soviet Union

July 27, 1984

This morning's TASS statement misrepresents our position, which is that we have accepted the Soviet proposal for discussions in Vienna in September without preconditions. Our preparations are continuing vigorously, and we expect to be in Vienna. We do not believe that such discussions are impossible, and we are continuing to deal with this subject in private diplomatic channels.

The United States finds it very disturbing that the Soviets portray the United States as responsible for the breakdown of the nuclear negotiations in Geneva when the world knows the Soviets walked out of those discussions. Already existing nuclear systems deserve our most urgent attention. If the Soviets do not choose to listen to our views on this subject, they need not, but for us and for mankind, this subject is too important to ignore. This U.S. approach does not represent a precondition. We will take whatever the Soviets say on antisatellite weapons seriously and respond constructively. We simply point out that we wish to restore exchanges on the subject of offensive nuclear arms. The world has a right to expect the U.S.S.R. and the United States to maintain such discussions.