Address to the Nation on
the Soviet-United States
evening. As I am speaking to you now, General Secretary Gorbachev is leaving on
his return trip to the
referring to the treaty that we signed Tuesday afternoon in the East Room of
the White House. I believe this treaty represents a landmark in postwar
history, because it is not just an arms control but an arms reduction
agreement. Unlike treaties of the past, this agreement does not simply
establish ceilings for new weapons: It actually reduces the number of such
weapons. In fact, it altogether abolishes an entire class of
verification measures in this treaty are also something new with far-reaching
implications. On-site inspections and short-notice inspections will be
permitted within the
this treaty, and all that we've achieved during this summit, signals a broader
understanding between the
Yet as important as the INF treaty is, there is a further and even more crucial point about the last 3 days and the entire summit process: Soviet-American relations are no longer focused only on arms control issues. They now cover a far broader agenda, one that has, at its root, realism and candor. Let me explain this with a saying I've often repeated: Nations do not distrust each other because they're armed; they are armed because they distrust each other. And just as real peace means the presence of freedom and justice as well as the absence of war, so, too, summits must be discussions not just about arms but about the fundamental differences that cause nations to be armed.
Dealing then with the deeper sources of conflict between nations and systems of government is a practical and moral imperative. And that's why it was vital to establish a broader summit agenda, one that dealt not only with arms reductions but also people-to-people contacts between our nations and, most important, the issues of human rights and regional conflicts.
This is the summit agenda we've adopted. By doing so, we've dealt not just with arms control issues but also with fundamental problems such as Soviet expansionism, human rights violations, as well as our own moral opposition to the ideology that justifies such practices. In this way, we have put Soviet-American relations on a far more candid and far more realistic footing. It also means that, while there's movement -- indeed, dramatic movement -- in the arms reduction area, much remains to be done in that area as well as in these other critical areas that I've mentioned, especially -- and this goes without saying -- in advancing our goal of a world open to the expansion of human freedom and the growth of democratic government.
much work lies ahead. Let me explain: On the matter of regional conflicts, I
spoke candidly with Mr. Gorbachev on the issues of
So, too, on human rights, there was some very limited movement: resolution of a number of individual cases in which prisoners will be released or exit visas granted. There were assurances of future, more substantial movement, which we hope to see become a reality.
And finally, with regard to the last item on our agenda -- scientific, educational, cultural, and economic exchanges -- we agreed to expand cooperation in ways that will break down some of the artificial barriers between our nations. For example, agreement was reached to expand and improve civil air service between our two countries.
But let me point out here that, while much work is ahead of us, the progress we've made, especially in arms reduction, does reflect a better understanding between ourselves and the Soviets. It also reflects something deeper. You see, since my first meeting with General Secretary Gorbachev in 1985, I have always regarded you, the American people, as full participants in our discussions. Though it may surprise Mr. Gorbachev to discover that all this time there has been a third party in the room with us, I do firmly believe the principal credit for the patience and persistence that brought success this year belongs to you, the American people.
support over these last 7 years has laid the basis for these negotiations. Your
support made it possible for us to rebuild our military strength, to liberate
In short, your support for our foreign policy goals -- building a safer peace as we advance the cause of world freedom -- has helped bring the Soviets to the bargaining table. It makes it possible now to hope for a real, fundamental improvement in our relations.
know, the question has often been asked whether democratic leaders who are
accountable to their people aren't at a grave disadvantage in negotiating with
leaders of totalitarian States who bear no such burden. Well, believe me, I think I can answer that question. I can speak from
personal experience. Over the long run, no leader at the bargaining table can
enjoy any greater advantage than the knowledge that he has behind him a people
who are strong and free and alert and resolved to remain that way -- people
like you. And it's this kind of informed and enlightened support, this hidden
strength of democratic government, that enabled us to
do what we did this week at the
Now that the treaty's been signed, it will be submitted to the Senate for the next step: the ratification process. I will meet with the leadership of Congress here tomorrow morning, and I'm confident that the Senate will now act in an expeditious way to fulfill its duty under our Constitution.
this end, let me explain the background. In the mid- and late-1970's the
Soviets began to deploy hundreds of new, mobile intermediate-range missiles
capable of destroying major cities and military installations in
Despite intense pressure from the Soviets, NATO proceeded with what we called a two-track policy. First, we would deploy a limited number of our own INF missiles as a deterrent, but at the same time push hard in negotiations to do away with this entirely new nuclear threat. And we set out to do this with a formula I first put forward in 1981. It was called the zero-option. It meant the complete elimination of these missiles on both sides. Well, at first, many called this a mere propaganda ploy, some even here in this country. But we were persistent, our allies steadfast, and eventually the Soviets returned to the bargaining table. The result is our INF treaty.
you see from the map on the screen now, the Soviet missiles, which will be
removed and eliminated under the treaty, have been a major threat to the
security of our friends and allies on two continents,
And with regard to verification, as I've mentioned, we have the breakthroughs of on-site inspections and short-notice inspections not only at potential missile deployment sites but at the facility where the Soviet SS - 20 missiles and their components have been assembled. We have a verification procedure that assures each side that the missiles of the other side have been destroyed and that new ones aren't built.
Here, then, is a treaty that shows how persistence and consistency eventually can pay off in arms negotiations. And let me assure you, too, that this treaty has been accomplished with unprecedented consultation with our allies and friends. I have spoken personally with the leaders of the major democracies, as has Secretary Shultz and our diplomats. This treaty has full allied support. But if persistence is paying off in our arms reduction efforts, the question of human rights and regional conflicts are still problems in our relations. But I am pleased that some progress has been made in these areas, also.
in addition to these candid exchanges on our four-part agenda, Mr. Gorbachev
and I did do some important planning for a
Now, I believe deep reductions in these offensive weapons, along with the development of SDI, would do much to make the world safer. For that reason, I made it clear that our SDI program will continue and that when we have a defense ready to deploy we will do so.
the future, Mr. Gorbachev and I also agreed that as nuclear weapons are reduced
it becomes all the more important to redress the disparities in conventional
and chemical weapons, where the Soviets now enjoy significant advantages over
And that's why, by pursuing SDI, which is a defense against offensive missiles, and by going for arms reduction rather than just arms control, we're moving away from the so-called policy of mutual assured destruction, by which nations hold each other hostage to nuclear terror and destruction. So, too, we are saying that the postwar policy of containment is no longer enough, that the goal of American foreign policy is both world peace and world freedom, that as a people we hope and will work for a day when all of God's children will enjoy the human dignity that their creator intended. I believe we gained some ground with regard to that cause in these last few days.
my first days in office, I have argued that the future belongs not to
repressive or totalitarian ways of life but to the cause of freedom -- freedom
of the marketplace, freedom to speak, assemble, and vote. And when we see the progress
of democracy in these last years, from
we were together in
know, a couple of years ago,
is also the story of how her son secretly vowed to return to
How that cry echoes down through the centuries, a cry for all children of the world, a cry for peace, for a world of love and understanding. And it is the hope of heeding such words -- the call for freedom and peace spoken by a chosen people in a promised land, the call spoken by the Nazar carpenter -- Nazarene carpenter, I should say, standing at the Sea of Galilee, the carpenter whose birth into the poverty of a stable we celebrate -- it is these words that we remember as the holiday season approaches and we reflect on the events of this week here in Washington.
So, let us remember the children and the future we want for them. And let us never forget that this promise of peace and freedom, the gift that is ours as Americans, the gift that we seek to share with all the world, depends for its strength on the spiritual source from which it comes. So, during this holy season, let us also reflect that in the prayers of simple people there is more power and might than that possessed by all the great statesmen or armies of the Earth. Let us then thank God for all His blessings to this nation, and ask Him for His help and guidance so that we might continue the work of peace and foster the hope of a world where human freedom is enshrined.
sum up then: This summit was a clear success. We made progress on each item in
our four-part agenda. Mr. Gorbachev and I have agreed to meet in several months
Note: The President spoke at from the Oval Office at the White House. His address was broadcast live on nationwide radio and television.