Statement by Deputy Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs Djerejian on the Soviet and United States Compliance with Arms Control Agreements

July 16, 1986

The United States has informed the Soviet Union through diplomatic channels that it is prepared to convene a special session of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) beginning on or about July 22 in Geneva. The United States will be prepared to respond to questions or concerns the Soviet Union has with respect to the President's May 27th decision on interim restraint. We would expect that in the context of such a discussion the Soviet Union will also be prepared to address U.S. concerns about Soviet noncompliance with arms control agreements.

Since the President came into office, he has done everything he could to try to persuade the Soviet Union to meet its arms control obligations and to achieve agreement on significant reductions in U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals. In 1982 he said the United States would continue not to undercut the SALT I interim agreement, which had already expired, and the SALT II treaty, which was stillborn, so long as the Soviets exercised equal restraint. Regrettably, the Soviets did not. In June 1985 the President once again called attention to the record of Soviet noncompliance and called upon the Soviet Union to join us in building an interim framework of truly mutual restraint until a new strategic arms reduction treaty (START) replaced the SALT structure. The SALT II treaty, even in its own terms, expired on December 31, 1985.

In the absence of an adequate Soviet response, the President announced on May 27 of this year that henceforth the United States would base decisions regarding its strategic forces on the nature and magnitude of the threat posed by the Soviet Union rather than on standards contained in SALT agreements that had expired, were unratified, and were being violated by the Soviet Union. On May 27th the President also decided to retire two older Poseidon submarines as the eighth Trident submarine began sea trials. This means the United States will remain in technical observance of the terms of the SALT agreements for some months. Time remains for the Soviet Union to alter the situation which led the President to his May 27 decision. If the Soviet Union does, the President will take this into account.

As the President said when he announced his decision on May 27, we must now look to the future, not to the past. The primary task now facing both the United States and the Soviet Union is to build a new structure of arms control, one based on significant, equitable, and verifiable reductions in the size of existing U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals. This is what we are proposing in the Geneva negotiations.

Until this is achieved, the United States will continue to exercise the utmost restraint. Assuming no significant change in the threat we face, as we implement the strategic modernization program, the United States will not deploy more strategic nuclear delivery vehicles or strategic ballistic missile warheads than the Soviet Union.

This special session of the Standing Consultative Commission offers us the opportunity to renew the President's request that the Soviet Union join us in establishing an interim framework of truly mutual restraint.