Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Soviet-United States Nuclear and Space Arms Negotiations

July 16, 1985

The United States and the Soviet Union completed today the second round of nuclear and space talks in Geneva. The primary U.S. goal remains significant, equitable, and verifiable reductions in the size of existing nuclear arsenals. The United States entered the second round of the nuclear and space talks with specific, detailed proposals on the table to achieve this goal and was prepared to make progress with the Soviet Union in each of the three negotiating areas.

In the area of strategic nuclear offensive arms, the U.S. delegation has flexibility in pursuing the significant reductions that we seek and is prepared to negotiate a number of specific, alternative paths that could lead to such reductions. With respect to intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF), our ultimate goal remains the elimination of the entire class of nuclear weapons carried on land-based INF missiles. Towards this end, the U.S. delegation also has flexibility and is authorized to pursue an interim agreement resulting in equal U.S. and Soviet global limits at the lowest possible level.

We were equally prepared and remain prepared for detailed exchanges in the area of defense and space. During the second round, regrettably, the Soviet position has remained entrenched, with no movement in their formal positions. The Soviet delegation repeated their moratoria proposals while continuing to precondition progress -- or even detailed discussion -- of offensive nuclear reductions on acceptance of their demands for unilateral U.S. concessions involving unrealistic and unverifiable constraints on research in the defense and space area.

Late in this round the Soviets surfaced some concepts which could involve possible reductions in existing strategic offensive nuclear arsenals. However, the method of aggregation proposed in these concepts seems designed to favor preservation of the Soviet Union's primary area of advantage; that is, in prompt hard-target kill capability, the most worrisome element in the current strategic equation. Efforts by the U.S. delegation to elicit Soviet answers to our questions about these concepts -- with regard to issues such as numbers, ceilings, and rates of possible reduction -- have thus far essentially gone unanswered. In this regard, we are disappointed that the Soviet Union has been unable to deal in concrete terms and with hard numbers, even framed as overall negotiating goals. And while the United States immediately probed the Soviet concepts, the Soviets unfortunately have refused to engage in discussion of the U.S. proposals.

In sum, we are about where we had expected to be given that we are ending only the second round of negotiations of such complexity and importance. We hope that the Soviet Union will be more forthcoming during the next round of negotiations.