Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on Strategic Arms Reduction Talks

May 18, 1982

We welcome President Brezhnev's announced willingness to begin negotiations on substantial reductions in strategic nuclear arms.

We will study Brezhnev's statement in detail, which we have not yet had a chance to do.

With regard to President Brezhnev's proposal to freeze strategic arms as soon as the talks begin:

-- As we have said before, a freeze now would codify existing Soviet military advantages; and

-- remove Soviet incentives to agree to the substantial reductions which President Reagan has identified as our primary objective in START.

With regard to Brezhnev's proposal to limit additional deployments of intermediate-range missiles:

-- This appears to be little more than a reiteration of an earlier Soviet proposal to freeze the current nuclear imbalance in Europe.

-- As such, it falls far short of President Reagan's proposal for the total elimination of longer range, land-based IFN missiles on both sides.