Statement on the
Soviet-United States Negotiations on Nuclear and Space Arms
September 17, 1986
nuclear and space talks (NST) resume tomorrow with the opening of round six in Geneva. This could prove to be
a very important phase in the strong effort being made by the United States to get Soviet agreement
to deep reductions in nuclear arms. If the Soviets are as determined as we are,
there is a real chance for such reductions.
United States is fully committed to
achieving genuine arms reductions -- and soon. It is in this spirit that I
wrote to General Secretary Gorbachev in July, further amplifying our positions
on the full range of arms control issues. In this letter I specifically sought
areas of common ground where we and the Soviet Union could most productively
focus our efforts to reach agreement. My letter dealt with expressed Soviet
concerns and identified immediate, practical steps that can move us in the
direction of our ultimate goal: the total elimination of nuclear arms. We are
now awaiting a constructive Soviet response. Our ideas offer a solid basis for
negotiations toward agreements beneficial to both sides. If the Soviets offer a
serious response, we can look forward to a productive round.
the weeks leading up to Friday's meeting between Secretary [of State] Shultz
and [Soviet] Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, the United States has undertaken
expert-level discussions with the Soviets in the four key areas of the
U.S.-Soviet agenda. This includes human rights, regional, bilateral, and arms
control issues. We hope that these discussions have helped to facilitate
progress in some areas, including the nuclear and space talks.
goals in the nuclear and space talks, and in arms control in general, remain
constant. We seek to strengthen strategic stability and truly diminish the risk
of nuclear war. This means removing the capability and incentive for the Soviet Union to conduct a disarming
first strike. It means preserving the ability to deter war at the lowest
possible level of forces. Therefore, our overriding priority in these talks is
the achievement of agreements which will bring about deep, equitable, and
verifiable reductions in the nuclear arsenals of both the United States and the Soviet Union.
course, if the benefits of such agreements are to be realized, they must be
fully complied with by both sides. The Soviet Union has continued to
violate key provisions of existing arms control agreements, and this pattern of
violations threatens to undermine the entire arms control process. We therefore
will continue to press the Soviets to correct their noncompliance, and thereby
strengthen the prospects for achieving real arms reductions. We also will
insist that verification be a key feature of any new agreement.
the Geneva negotiating forum, the United States has put forward
concrete proposals in all three areas of the nuclear and space talks:
-- Our strategic arms (START) proposals are
based on the concept -- on which Mr. Gorbachev and I agreed at the Geneva summit last November --
of 50-percent reductions in the strategic, offensive nuclear arsenals of both
sides. Further, we seek to enhance stability by concentrating on reductions in
ballistic missiles, since they are the most destabilizing in a crisis.
-- In the intermediate-range nuclear forces
(INF) talks we have proposed a phased approach for global elimination of the
entire class of U.S. and Soviet longer range
-- In the defense and space negotiations, we
have advanced new ideas on how to ensure a stable transition to strategic
defenses, should these prove feasible. Additionally, we have proposed an ``open
laboratories'' exchange to enable each side to reassure itself concerning the
other's strategic defense research.
my July letter to Mr. Gorbachev I expanded upon these American proposals and
offered some new ideas. In Geneva our negotiators will be
able to offer concrete new details in all three areas. In addition, Secretary
Shultz is prepared to discuss these issues -- along with our human rights,
regional, and bilateral concerns -- with Foreign Minister Shevardnadze. These
discussions can help to lay the groundwork for a second summit meeting between
Mr. Gorbachev and myself in the United States later this year, as
agreed at our first summit meeting in Geneva.
want to emphasize, however, that the Soviet treatment of American journalist
Nicholas Daniloff continues to limit severely what is
achievable in our bilateral relations. I therefore urge the Soviet Union to resolve this case
promptly before it does even more damage to the relationship between our two
time has come for practical achievements in all areas of our relations. As far
as the Geneva negotiations are
concerned, the United States has demonstrated that
we are doing our part to bring about meaningful arms reductions. This round
should tell us whether the Soviet Union is similarly dedicated.
If the Soviets do share our commitment, there can be real progress on nuclear
arms reductions, and it can begin soon.