Statement on the Soviet Proposal on Nuclear and Space Arms Reductions

January 15, 1986

In 1983 at the Japanese Diet, I called for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. Since that time the United States has put forward a series of proposals to achieve this goal through radical reductions in strategic weapons. As early as 1981, I set forth a specific proposal for the elimination of all long-range intermediate nuclear missiles. At the Geneva arms control talks in November, we made yet another proposal designed to bring us closer to the goal of zero nuclear weapons.

Now the Soviet Union has responded with a proposal which builds on some of the elements we had previously set forth. I welcome the Soviets' latest response and hope that it represents a helpful further step in the process. We, together with our allies, will give careful study to General Secretary Gorbachev's suggestions. Many elements contained in the response are unchanged from previous Soviet positions and continue to cause us serious concern. There are others that at first glance may be constructive.

The American delegation in Geneva has instructions to implement the agreement reached at the Geneva summit to seek early progress in achieving radical reductions in offensive nuclear weapons, including an interim agreement on intermediate-range nuclear forces. If the position outlined by General Secretary Gorbachev advances this objective, it would prove to be a constructive step.