Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Conference on Confidence and Security Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe

June 9, 1986

The penultimate round of the Conference on Confidence and Security Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe (CDE) begins in Stockholm on June 10. The 35 signatories of the Helsinki Final Act are charged with adopting militarily significant, verifiable measures designed to increase openness about military activities in Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals. Implementation of such measures would enhance stability and security by giving all participating States greater confidence in the accuracy of information upon which European security decisions are based.

The President attaches great importance to the CDE as an integral part of our broad concept of security, encompassing political, economic, cultural, and humanitarian issues as well as military matters. He believes that success in the CDE could contribute to improved East-West relations and help to lower the artificial barriers that divide East from West in Europe. He is concerned that, with only 10 negotiating weeks remaining before the Conference adjourns, the prospects for success are diminishing rapidly, and the opportunities offered by the CDE could be lost. The previous round, which we and our allies as well as many neutral and nonaligned states believed was critical, made minimal progress because of Soviet reluctance to engage seriously in the drafting process.

Upon resumption of the talks, the first task of the conferees must be to decide on the level of ground force and joint arms activities for which advance notice must be given and the measures necessary to verify compliance with such provisions. Western proposals provide extensive information on such exercises and a reasonable verification scheme.

The last moment to resolve this impasse has arrived. The President has instructed Ambassador Robert L. Barry, head of the U.S. delegation in Stockholm, to press for real progress in the Conference in the next round, which ends in July.