Statement by Principal
Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Resumption of
the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction Negotiations
September 25, 1986
of NATO and the Warsaw Pact resume the mutual and balanced force reduction (MBFR)
talks today in Vienna. It has long been
NATO's goal to reach a verifiable agreement that would reduce and limit
conventional forces in the crucial region of central Europe. This round of talks
offers an opportunity to make progress toward that end.
its part, NATO has made every effort to lay the groundwork for success. On December
in order to achieve a breakthrough in these negotiations, the West tabled a
proposal that accepted the framework the Warsaw Pact had proposed for a
time-limited, first-phase agreement calling for initial reductions by U.S. and Soviet ground
forces, followed by a no-increase commitment on all forces of the two alliances
in the area. Underscoring further its desire to achieve tangible progress in Vienna, the West at the same
time changed its long-held position that there should be agreement on the
numbers of forces of both sides in central Europe before initial
reductions were taken -- a major compromise step in the East's direction.
Eastern response to this significant move has not contributed to progress in
the talks. Despite public claims by Warsaw Pact leaders that they were willing
to incorporate reasonable verification measures in an agreement, the Warsaw
Pact, in the draft MBFR agreement it tabled on February
again proposed inadequate and unacceptable measures for ensuring compliance.
Moreover, the East actually took a step backward from its 1983 verification
position and would now exempt the half-million Soviet troops on annual rotation
into and out of central Europe from any requirement to
pass through monitoring points.
this lack of movement by the East in the previous two negotiating sessions, the
United States and its allies remain
hopeful that success can be achieved at the Vienna negotiating table. We
look to the Soviet
to seriously respond to the important compromise proposal tabled by the West
President has instructed the U.S. delegation under
Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill, in conjunction with other
NATO delegations, to continue to make every effort to demonstrate how the
Western position in MBFR would enhance peace and stability in central Europe. All NATO nations hope
that the East is capable of mustering the political will necessary to do its
part to advance the Vienna negotiations. It is
time for the Warsaw Pact to demonstrate that it is indeed committed to
meaningful and verifiable reductions in conventional forces.
Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters at
in the Briefing Room at the White House.