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Negotiations on Nuclear and Space Arms
Remarks before a symposium at the Department of State's Foreign Service Institute on March 13, 1986. Ambassador Nitze is special adviser to the President and the Secretary of State on arms control matters.
After last November's summit meeting between President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev, we thought that the summit and the events leading up to it might well foreshadow the possibility for a fresh start in the U.S.-Soviet relationship. We were fully aware, however, of the substantial barriers to agreement which remained to be surmounted.
On March 4 our negotiators concluded the fourth round of the nuclear and space arms talks (NST) in Geneva. This was preceded by Gorbachev's January 15 announcement of a new Soviet arms control proposal. In late February, after extensive consultations with our allies, the President authorized our negotiators in Geneva to present a comprehensive response to Mr. Gorbachev's proposal.
It is appropriate to recall the main outlines of Mr. Gorbachev's proposal and those of the President's response, as well as such clarifications as our negotiators have been able to obtain from the Soviet negotiators in Geneva.
I will first address the initial steps as they have been set forth by both sides. Agreements concerning the first steps and the manner in which they are executed will largely determine what is possible in subsequent stages.
One of the features of Mr. Gorbachev's proposal was his attempt to trump the President's emphasis on the goal of the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons by offering a staged timetable to achieve that goal. But the second and third stages of his proposal can only be agreed and implemented by a multilateral group of nations including the United Kingdon, France, China, and other industrial nations as well. Furthermore, for those steps to become practicable, with no diminution of the security of the United States and its allies, a number of changes must first take place in the world scene. There must be a correction in today's imbalances in non-nuclear capabilities; an elimination of chemical warfare capabilities; an improvement in the methods of handling conditions of tension in the world, such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Angola; and a demonstration that the Soviet Union has reconciled itself to peaceful competition.
With regard to the first steps, there appeared to be some new elements in the position of the Soviet side. On INF [intermediate-range nuclear forces], the Soviets appeared to have shifted somewhat their position on British and French nuclear forces. Because the INF proposals represent the most tangible movement resulting from Mr. Gorbachev's package, because the U.S. February initiative focuses on INF, and because these movements ultimately affect prospects in START [strategic arms reduction talks], I will later provide some elaboration of developments in this area. Mr. Gorbachev also expressed at least rhetorical support for more extensive verification measures than the Soviets have supported in the past. Finally, a first reading of the English text of Gorbachev's proposal indicated there might be a change in their position calling for a ban on strategic defense research; this, …