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Statement on the Soviet-United States Nuclear and Space Arms Negotiations

July 12, 1988

The United States and Soviet Union open round 10 of the nuclear and space talks in Geneva today. In over 6 years of negotiation, we have made considerable progress. In START, we have agreement on 50 percent reductions in strategic forces, to a ceiling of 6,000 warheads on 1,600 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and subceilings of 4,900 ballistic missile warheads and 1,540 warheads on 154 heavy missiles. Both sides have agreed that there will be a 50-percent reduction in throwweight for Soviet missiles. There is also agreement on a counting rule for heavy bomber armaments and on elements of a verification regime that will include several kinds of on-site inspection, data exchange, and measures to reduce the possibility of cheating. The negotiators have worked out a joint draft treaty text that records extensive and significant areas of agreement, as well as remaining areas of disagreement.

In the defense and space forum, we seek agreement on how the United States and Soviet Union can jointly manage a stable transition to increasing reliance on effective defenses, should they prove feasible, which threaten no one. Our negotiators will work on a joint draft text of a separate agreement on defense and space issues, reflecting the principles General Secretary Gorbachev and I outlined at the Washington summit in December 1987.

At the outset of the defense and space talks, few expected that we could have come as far as we have. Our SDI program has provided an important incentive for the Soviets to negotiate seriously. It is also our best hope for a safer world. We have made clear to the Soviets that we will not bargain SDI away nor accept any provisions that would cripple our research, development, and testing program, which is in full compliance with the ABM treaty.

Since the end of the last round, additional progress was made on a number of issues. In the joint statement issued at the Moscow summit, we and the Soviets identified some common ground with respect to concepts for verification of mobile missiles—should they be permitted in a START treaty—and on dealing with air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM's). It remains the U.S. position to seek a ban on mobile missiles unless effective verification provisions can be found for limitations on them.

The discussions in Moscow were a sound beginning, but much remains to be done, including translating areas of common ground into precise treaty language. Many other tough issues remain, however, including issues which affect the fundamental security interests of each side. A major one for the United States is the illegal Soviet radar at Krasnoyarsk.

Ambassadors Kampelman, Cooper, and Hanmer and their negotiating teams are returning to Geneva prepared to engage in the discussion and hard bargaining necessary to make headway and to achieve an agreement that meets the criteria we have set: deep reductions, greater strategic stability, and effective verification. Our goal is a good agreement in each area, not a quick one, and we will not take any shortcuts. We have already come a long way toward agreements that will strengthen our security and that of our allies. If the Soviets return to Geneva prepared to make further progress, much more can be achieved.

Ronald Reagan, Statement on the Soviet-United States Nuclear and Space Arms Negotiations Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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