Statement on the Soviet-United States Nuclear and Space Arms Negotiations
January 14, 1988
marks the opening in Geneva of round nine of the
nuclear and space talks between the United States and the Soviet Union. Our objective in these
talks remains unchanged -- achievement of equitable
and effectively verifiable arms reduction agreements with the Soviet Union, which lessen the risk
of war and make the world safer.
month here in Washington, General Secretary
Gorbachev and I signed the treaty on intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF).
This treaty is truly historic. For the first time, an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear
missiles will be eliminated. Through this treaty, we and our NATO allies
achieve the goal we set forth in 1979: elimination of the threat posed to our
security by Soviet INF missiles.
this agreement, the Soviets are required to eliminate deployed INF missile
systems capable of carrying almost four times as many nuclear warheads as the
deployed systems we will eliminate. Furthermore, the INF treaty provides for
the most stringent verification in the history of arms control. The
asymmetrical reductions to achieve an equal U.S.-Soviet level and the
comprehensive verification provisions of the INF treaty provide important
precedents for future arms reduction agreements. The INF treaty is in the
security interests of the United States and our allies.
treaty now goes to the Senate for its advice and consent as to ratification. I
welcome the debate the Senate will hold, and I hope the Senate will move
expeditiously in carrying out its important constitutional role. The INF treaty
is not, however, an end in itself. It is part of our overall strategy for
strengthening peace and ensuring strategic stability. Our focus now will be on
achieving 50-percent reductions in U.S. and Soviet strategic
offensive nuclear arsenals. We particularly seek to reduce the most
destabilizing nuclear arms: fast-flying ballistic missiles, especially heavy
intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple warheads.
negotiators returned to Geneva with my instructions to
expedite work on a joint draft treaty which meets these objectives. This draft
START treaty reflects progress already achieved in Geneva and the areas of
agreement that General Secretary Gorbachev and I reached during our meetings in
1985 and 1986. This includes a ceiling of 6,000 warheads on 1,600 delivery
vehicles for each side, a ceiling for heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles
and their warheads, and counting rules for heavy bombers and their armament.
During our meetings in Washington last month, the General
Secretary and I made further progress. We reached agreement on a sublimit of 4,900 for the total number of ballistic missile
warheads, a counting rule for existing ballistic missiles, and guidelines for
effective verification of the treaty.
the progress we have made, important differences remain, including such issues
as mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles, sea-launched cruise missiles,
and the details of effective verification. A START agreement can be reached
this year if the Soviets return to Geneva ready to apply
themselves with the same seriousness as the United States. The United States seeks a sound
agreement, and we will not negotiate against arbitrary deadlines. It remains my
operating principle that we would rather have no agreement than accept a bad
negotiators will also continue work at Geneva on strategic defense
issues. In accordance with my agreement with General Secretary Gorbachev last
month, I have instructed our negotiators to work out with the Soviets a
separate new treaty calling for observing for a specified period of time the
ABM treaty, as signed in 1972, while both countries conduct research,
development, and testing as required, which are permitted by the ABM treaty.
After this period, and unless otherwise agreed, both countries will be free to
choose their own course of action.
our meetings last month, I made clear to General Secretary Gorbachev my firm
commitment to move forward with our Strategic Defense Initiative. I believe
that he understands our insistence on investigating fully the feasibility of
strategic defenses, especially since, as he acknowledged, the Soviet Union itself has long been
conducting its own program in this vital area. SDI offers the best hope of a
safer world, one in which Western security would rely less on the threat of
retaliation and increasingly on defenses, which threaten no one. SDI is the
cornerstone of our security strategy for the 1990's and beyond. SDI is not a
bargaining chip but our path to a more secure future.
negotiating team -- led by Ambassadors Kampelman,
Cooper, and Hanmer -- returns to Geneva fully prepared to make
progress on the difficult issues remaining in both offensive reductions and