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Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the Soviet-United States Nuclear Testing Negotiations

June 28, 1988

The United States and the Soviet Union concluded round two of the nuclear testing talks on June 28 in Geneva. The round, which began on February 15, is part of U.S.-Soviet step-by-step negotiations on nuclear testing. The first priority of these talks is agreement on effective verification measures for two existing, but unratified treaties: the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty.

During the round, we made considerable progress toward our goal of effective verification of these treaties. The two sides are now close to agreement on the verification protocol for the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty. Agreement on this protocol will facilitate further progress on the verification protocol for the Threshold Test Ban Treaty. However, in the case of this treaty, the Soviets have insisted that the joint verification experiment is necessary before the protocol is finalized.

Preparations for the joint verification experiment are well advanced. Based on procedures detailed in an agreement signed in Moscow during the summit, personnel from each side are now on the other's test site, making arrangements for the experiment. We expect the joint verification experiment to be conducted this summer. We believe that the experiment will provide the Soviets the information they need to accept routine U.S. use of CORRTEX -- the most accurate method we have identified for verifying compliance with these treaties -- for treaty verification.

We hope that with the continued cooperation of the Soviet Union we will be able to reach early agreement on effective verification measures so that these two treaties can be ratified.