Statement on the United States Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Proposal

May 8, 1987

I have directed the U.S. START negotiator in the nuclear and space talks in Geneva to present to the Soviet Union at today's meeting of the START negotiating group a draft treaty which provides for 50-percent reductions in U.S. and Soviet strategic offensive nuclear arms. The text of the U.S. draft treaty reflects the basic areas of agreement on strategic arms reductions General Secretary Gorbachev and I reached at our meeting at Reykjavik last October.

Our draft treaty provides for both sides to reduce to 1,600 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads, with appropriate sublimits, over a period of 7 years after such a treaty enters into force. It provides a solid basis for the creation of a fair and durable agreement. The United States proposal, in addition to the overall limits, provides for specific restrictions on the most destabilizing and dangerous nuclear systems -- above all, fast-flying ballistic missiles. It includes detailed rules designed to eliminate any ambiguity as to what is agreed, and extensive verification provisions designed to ensure that each side can be confident that the other is complying fully with the agreement. The treaty is the result of intensive work by all appropriate agencies of the United States Government. I have reviewed the treaty, and it has my approval.

By tabling this text, the United States seeks to build on the significant progress made in START and to provide a vehicle for resolving the remaining differences. If the Soviets are prepared to work with us on the remaining outstanding issues, especially the need -- for the purpose of ensuring strategic stability -- for sublimits on ballistic missile warheads, we will be able to take a significant step toward a safer and more stable world.

While tabling this treaty is an important indication of our desire to achieve deep, equitable, and verifiable strategic arms reductions as soon as possible, I do not wish to minimize the difficult issues which remain to be resolved, particularly Soviet insistence on linking a START agreement to measures which, if accepted by the United States, would seriously constrain SDI. This is unacceptable. I cannot and I will not accept any measures which would cripple or kill our SDI program. In view of the continuing Soviet offensive buildup, combined with the long-standing Soviet activities in strategic defense, the SDI program is vital to the future security of the United States and our allies.

As we begin detailed discussion of our proposed treaty with the Soviets, we are resolved to do our part to bring about, for the first time in history, real reductions in strategic offensive arms. I hope the Soviets will demonstrate similar determination and work with us on the basis of our draft treaty to translate the areas of agreement reached at Reykjavik into concrete reductions.