Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the Anniversary of the Establishment of Soviet-United States Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers

 

September 14, 1988

 

In a Rose Garden ceremony held by the President a year ago, Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze signed the agreement between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the establishment of Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers (NRRC agreement). The agreement marks a practical step forward in the ongoing efforts of the administration to reduce the risk of conflict between the superpowers as a result of accident, miscalculation, or misunderstanding. The centers which it established in Washington and Moscow provide a direct communications link between the two governments, capable of transmitting messages relating to arms control and confidence building.

 

When the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers began operations in April 1988, the NRRC agreement called for certain notifications of ballistic missile launches in accordance with the 1971 accidents measures agreement and the 1972 agreement on the Prevention of Incidents on and over the High Seas (INCSEA). The entry into force of the INF treaty and the conclusion of the Strategic Ballistic Missile Launch Notification Agreement at the 1988 Moscow summit broadened and increased the exchanges of information and notifications handled by the centers.

 

We are particularly pleased to mark the first anniversary of the signing of the NRRC agreement. The establishment of the centers not only serves as a concrete example of our commitment to reduce the risk of conflict but also complements our ongoing work toward the President's objectives of meaningful, equitable, and verifiable reduction in the U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals.

 

The agreement to establish the centers was the result of a U.S. initiative, an initiative characterized by close and productive cooperation among the executive branch, the Congress, and private groups of individuals who shared the common goal of reaching a practical accord with the Soviets that advances our efforts to strengthen peace and security. In particular, we wish to express appreciation for the counsel and leadership provided by Senators Sam Nunn and John Warner, who worked over the years to help to make the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers a reality.