Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the Soviet-United States Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Reductions Negotiations


July 22, 1987


General Secretary Gorbachev, in an interview published today, indicated that the Soviet Union is now prepared to agree to eliminate all longer range INF missiles, including the 100 warheads that they have previously insisted on keeping. We welcome reports of Soviet acceptance of the President's proposal for the global elimination of U.S. and Soviet longer range INF missiles, initially made in November of 1981. Such an agreement, if achieved, would result in the complete global elimination of this class of missiles. This would substantially reduce the Soviet nuclear threat to both Europe and Asia. It would facilitate verification as well.


The General Secretary also indicated that he is prepared to agree to the elimination of shorter range INF missiles. With the strong support of our allies, we made such a proposal in Geneva on June 16, which would eliminate U.S. and Soviet SRINF missiles on a global basis. We have seen statements of positive Soviet response before, only to later discover unacceptable conditions. We therefore look forward to seeing their official statement at the Geneva negotiations. Our delegation is prepared to work constructively there to reach an effectively verifiable agreement.


We believe now is the time for progress in reducing strategic offensive weapons, as well. Our START delegation looks forward to prompt tabling of a Soviet draft treaty to match the one we have tabled more than 10 weeks ago, so we can get down to work on this subject as well.


Note: Marlin Fitzwater read the statement to reporters at 4:54 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.