Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on Soviet-United States Negotiations on Nuclear and Space Arms

August 31, 1986

The United States and the Soviet Union will begin a new round of discussions on arms control in Geneva on September 18th. An interagency arms control group has been meeting during the past several weeks to prepare for this round of talks. The United States considers this new round to be important in the process of reaching an agreement for meaningful arms control leading to total elimination of nuclear weapons. The September discussions come at a critical juncture in the process.

The recent exchanges between President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev have served to underscore the seriousness of the discussions. We are pleased that the Soviet Union has moved from a position of limiting the expansion of the arms race to a discussion of reducing the nuclear arsenals on both sides. The United States, for its part, has assigned major priority to seeking areas in which the two sides can make progress. We believe our most recent proposals are serious, concrete, and detailed. They provide the impetus for discussions with the Soviet Union that can significantly contribute to an agreement in the future. The interagency discussions in preparation for resumption of the Geneva talks will continue during the coming weeks. No final decisions have been made and will not be approved by the President until nearer the time that talks resume.

We believe the principle of confidentiality is essential to the successful outcome of these discussions. We are committed to preserving this principle and, therefore, will have no comment on the discussions that take place within our government or at the table in Geneva. We deplore those in this administration who make this information public. Breaching the principle of confidentiality serves to undermine the opportunity for a successful outcome in arms control. Quite frankly, we must question their motives. Their actions ill-serve the President, the American people, and the cause of world peace.