Radio Address to the
Nation Following the Soviet-United States Summit Meeting
December 12, 1987
you know, we had an important visitor in Washington this week. General
Secretary Gorbachev was in town for only 3 days, but though our time was short,
we accomplished much. Now, with all the reports of INF, ICBM's, and SDI you've
been hearing the last few days, I wouldn't be surprised if some people are a
little bit confused by all those letters -- sounds like alphabet soup. So, let
me just begin by trying to put all this into English that everybody can
stands for intermediate-range nuclear forces. They include nuclear missiles
deployed in the Soviet Union and Europe. When the Soviets first
started deploying new INF missiles in the 1970's, the triple-warhead SS - 20's,
they represented a totally new nuclear threat to our friends in Europe and Asia for which we had no
comparable counter. In response, despite intense pressure exerted by the Soviet Union in Europe, NATO decided in 1979
that we would deploy a limited number of comparable missiles and, at the same
time, push hard in negotiations to do away with this
new nuclear threat.
1981 I first proposed what would come to be called the zero option. It called
for the complete elimination of these U.S. and Soviet missiles on
both sides. The Soviets stonewalled. At first, many called it a mere propaganda
ploy -- some even here in this country -- but we were patient and persistent.
the first time in history, in the treaty that General Secretary Gorbachev and I
just signed, arms control has been replaced by arms reduction. Well, actually,
I should say arms elimination, because with this treaty an entire class of INF
missiles, both U.S. and Soviet, will be
destroyed. Now, the Soviets presently have many more INF missiles than we do,
so they'll be destroying some 1,600 deployed warheads, while we destroy about
400. Now that the treaty has been signed, it will be submitted to the Senate
for the next step: the ratification process. I met with the leadership of
Congress yesterday morning, and I am confident that the Senate will now act in
an expeditious way to fulfill its duty under our Constitution. So, I hope in
the near future INF will be one part of the alphabet soup you won't have to
letters you'll hear more about are START, strategic arms reduction talks,
because we've made progress toward 50-percent reductions in strategic nuclear
arsenals. This could be another historic achievement, provided the Soviets
don't try to hold it hostage to restrictions on SDI. SDI stands for our
Strategic Defense Initiative, the high-tech defense we're investigating to
protect America and its allies against
ballistic missile attack.
I met with General Secretary Gorbachev in Geneva in 1985 and in Reykjavik, Iceland, last year, he exerted
every bit of pressure he could to try to make us give up SDI. Well, I, of
course, had to disappoint him each time. Building a defense against nuclear
weapons is a moral as well as strategic imperative, and we will never give it
up. Our bottom line on SDI is simple: We will research it; we will test it. And
when it is ready, we will deploy it.
Soviets have persisted in efforts to limit our vital testing in this area. But
providing a strategic defense is too important to restrict the promise it holds
for future generations. Defense, not just offense -- that is the promise SDI
holds. The fact is -- and I'm afraid most of us in this country aren't fully
aware of this fact -- the United States presently has to rely
on a policy in which our nations hold each other hostage to nuclear terror and
destruction. This is an intolerable situation. We will move forward with SDI;
it is our moral duty.
I don't want you to think that this summit was taken up exclusively with arms
reduction. I talked extensively with Mr. Gorbachev about our insistence that
his policy of glasnost become more than a slogan, that
we begin to see real progress on human rights. As I emphasized to Mr.
Gorbachev, nothing would convince us of the sincerity of glasnost so much as
seeing progress in emigration, release of political prisoners, and allowing his
people their most basic right to worship their Maker in peace, free of fear.
we talked directly about regional issues such as Afghanistan, Iran-Iraq, Angola, Cambodia, and Nicaragua. We stressed the
urgency of action between our two countries in order to bring more cooperation
to our efforts to resolve these conflicts on terms that promote peace and
freedom. So, we have a long road to travel. But we've taken important steps,
and with your help we'll make that journey.
next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.