Statement on the Arms Control Provisions of the 1988 - 1989 Defense Authorization Bill

 

October 2, 1987

 

Earlier today the U.S. Senate passed the defense authorization bill for fiscal years 1988 - 1989. Included in this bill are specific provisions which undercut my efforts to negotiate equitable and verifiable arms reductions and undermine U.S. national security. The first legislates unilateral U.S. adherence to the narrow interpretation of the ABM treaty, despite the fact that a broader one is fully justified. A broader interpretation would enable us to save time and money in developing effective defenses against a potential Soviet missile attack. The second provision would force the United States to comply with certain provisions of the unratified and expired SALT II agreement, which was negotiated by the last administration.

 

Any bill that includes these provisions will be vetoed. These amendments would undermine our negotiators in Geneva at a particularly crucial time. I regret the action of the Senate, and I commend all Senators who had the courage to vote against passage of the bill on these grounds. This vote by the Senate is particularly ironic in view of the actions taken in recent days by the Soviet Union close to U.S. territory. We have protested these Soviet actions as both unacceptable to this country and inconsistent with General Secretary Gorbachev's claim to seek a long-term improvement in our relationship.

 

Note: The President referred to the test-firing of two Soviet ICBM missiles over the Pacific Ocean. The dummy warhead of one of the missiles landed within 500 miles of Hawaii.