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Letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate on United States Policy on Arms Control for Antisatellite Systems

March 31, 1984

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

I am pleased to transmit this report on my Administration's policy on arms control for antisatellite systems as required in the Conference Report for the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1984.

The United States is committed to the exploration and use of space by all nations for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of mankind. Among the activities conducted by the United States in space is the pursuit of fundamental national security objectives. Arms control arrangements for space would serve these objectives if they contributed to our overall deterrence posture and reduce the risk of conflict.

With this in mind, I announced on July 4, 1982, the basic posture of this Administration which I now reaffirm:

"The United States will continue to study space arms control options. The United States will consider verifiable and equitable arms control measures that would ban or otherwise limit testing and deployment of specific weapons systems, should those measures be compatible with United States national security."

Guided by these criteria, the United States has been studying a range of possible options for space arms control, with a view to possible negotiations with the Soviet Union and other nations, if such negotiations would serve U.S. interests. Within the U.S. Government, this work is being conducted by an Interdepartmental Group chaired by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. The United States is also prepared to examine space arms control issues in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). However, no arrangements or agreements beyond those already governing military activities in outer space have been found to date that are judged to be in the overall interest of the United States and its Allies. The factors that impede the identification of effective ASAT arms control measures include significant difficulties of verification, diverse sources of threats to U.S. and Allied satellites, and threats posed by Soviet targeting and reconnaissance satellites that undermine conventional and nuclear deterrence.

Notwithstanding these difficulties, the United States is continuing to study space arms control, in search of selected limits on specific types of space systems or activities in space that could satisfactorily deal with problems, such as those described above. Until we have determined whether there are, in fact, practical solutions to these problems, I do not believe it would be productive to engage in formal international negotiations. The United States remains ready, however, to examine the problems and potential of space arms control at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

The attached Report on U.S. Policy on Antisatellite Arms Control sets forth in greater detail the views of my Administration on this important issue. It is unclassified and is suitable for general release. As you are aware, information regarding certain U.S. and Soviet space activities involves sensitive information. Accordingly, I am also transmitting a classified Report providing such information under separate cover. In preparing both Reports, every effort was made to respond to the questions asked by various Committees and Members of Congress.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives, and George Bush, President of the Senate.

The text of the letters was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on April 2.

Ronald Reagan, Letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate on United States Policy on Arms Control for Antisatellite Systems Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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