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Remarks at a Ceremony Marking Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems and the Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms

October 03, 1972

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Foreign Minister, Mr. Secretary of State, members of the Cabinet, Members of the Congress, and all of our distinguished guests:

As has already been indicated, the documents we have signed today place into force the first limitation on offensive and defensive nuclear arms ever entered into, and particularly it is important that this limitation is entered into between the Soviet Union and the United States of America.

On this particular occasion, I would like to pay a personal tribute to and express the thanks of the Nation to the Members of the House and the Senate who, in a bipartisan manner, gave approval and support to these historic agreements.

Also, I would like to pay tribute to and express personal appreciation to the scores of people in both governments who are not seated here at the table, but who worked with those at the table in working out the details of these agreements and their substance over almost 3 years.

It would not be fair to mention the names of all of them, or even a few, but I am sure that everyone would appreciate the fact that I would say that one name particularly comes to mind today, a former Ambassador from the United States to the Soviet Union, who also served with Ambassador [Gerard C.] Smith on the delegation to SALT from the United States--Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson.

It can truly be said of him, as it can be said of so many others who have worked in this field, that he gave his life to the cause of peace.

On this occasion, we recognize that these agreements mean the first step in limiting the burden of nuclear arms as far as our two nations are concerned. Also, these agreements mean a first step in reducing the danger of war in the world and increasing the chances of peace.

I have used the term "first step" quite deliberately, because--while these agreements have enormous significance in the ban on defensive nuclear weapons beyond the points that are covered in the agreement and in the treaty, an enormous significance in terms of the limitation of certain offensive categories--there remains a significant number of categories in the nuclear field that are not covered. And that is why I share the views that have been expressed by Foreign Minister Gromyko that we must now move from this first step to the vitally important next step in which we consider the whole range of offensive nuclear weapons and try to find agreement between our two nations in that field.

And then beyond, after that step is taken, we can look to the possibility of reducing the burden of nuclear arms and eventually to the possibility of limitations and restrictions on the use of such arms.

What we are in effect witnessing today, then, is, we believe, the beginning of a great historical process in which we have learned by working out these agreements, following, as they do, the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Test Ban Treaty, that we have found the way to make progress in other fields which can eventually lead to the goal that we all want, a world that is much safer and particularly a world that may possibly be free from the enormous danger of a nuclear disaster.

I think all of us are quite aware of the fact that the signing of these documents today, the signing of the documents that occurred earlier this year in the Kremlin, raise the hopes of all the people of the world for a dream of mankind from the beginning of civilization, a world of peace, a world in which peoples with different governments and different philosophies could live in peace together.

We believe that we have contributed to that cause and to the realization of that dream. And as we take this first step, we look forward to working together in taking the next steps, we look forward particularly in being worthy of the hopes of the people of the world. And we can be worthy of those hopes if our two great nations can move together, not only to limit the burden of arms on ourselves but to lift the burden of fear of war from all of the people of the world.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 10:15 a.m. in the East Room at the White House following the remarks of Andrei A. Gromyko, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs. The President spoke without referring to notes.

Foreign Minister Gromyko spoke in Russian. His remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows:
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary of State, ladies and gentlemen:
The treaty and the interim agreement on questions of strategic arms limitation, which were signed in Moscow by you, Mr. President, and by the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, and which are today coming into force, will go down in history as a significant achievement in restraining the arms race.

This is how the significance of this event is evaluated by world public opinion. The Soviet Union attaches great importance to these accords which are a continuation of the process initiated by the conclusion of the Moscow Test Ban Treaty, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and other important agreements limiting the arms race in the world.

The Soviet people firmly intend to go on implementing the peace program approved by the 24th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. We are confident that the question on the nonuse of force in international relations and on the permanent prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons, which we have submitted for consideration by the current session of the United Nations General Assembly, is also of signal importance for the cause of peace.

The treaty and the interim agreement entering into force today are based on recognition of the principle of the equal security of the parties, and they offer no one any unilateral military advantages. At the same time, these accords meet not only the interests of our two nations but also the interests of international security as a whole and the interests of all nations because security and peace are their common goal.

Practical steps to limit rocket nuclear armaments rightfully hold an important place among the very real political changes taking place in relations between our two countries, and this signifies a success for the policy of peaceful coexistence and it has a positive effect on the entire international situation as a whole.

For the first time since the Second World War, agreements are coming into force aimed at slowing down the race in the most destructive types of armaments, but any treaty and any agreement can have a genuine historic significance only when the principles and the intentions proclaimed in them become the content of the practical activity of states and lead to further important achievements in that direction.

The Soviet Union is fully resolved, for its part, to do all that is necessary to that end.

Today when these important documents are entering into force, it should be noted that in accordance with the understanding achieved between our two countries, negotiations will be continued with a view to deepening and broadening agreements to limit strategic arms.

As is evidenced by the treaty and the interim agreement entering into force today, vigorous efforts aimed at removing the threat of war and at disarmament do yield their concrete positive results.

We are convinced that the interests of the Soviet and American peoples and the interests of the peoples of all the countries of the world demand that efforts to limit the arms race should continue unabated.
Thank you.

The texts of the treaty and the interim agreement are printed in United States Treaties and Other International Agreements ( 23 UST 3435 and 3462 ).

On October 2, 1972, the White House released a fact sheet on the treaty and the interim agreement.

On October 3, the White House released the texts of the instrument of ratification of the treaty, the proclamation of the treaty, and the protocol of exchange of instruments of ratification of the treaty and notices of acceptance of the interim agreement.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at a Ceremony Marking Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems and the Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/255127

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