Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the Antiballistic Missile Treaty Review


August 8, 1988


The third 5-year review called for by the ABM treaty will be held in Geneva beginning on August 24. The U.S. delegation, headed by Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Director William F. Burns, will consist of the U.S. Commissioner to the Standing Consultative Commission, Ambassador Richard Ellis; the U.S. Ambassador to the defense and space talks, Ambassador Henry Cooper; and senior officials from the Departments of State and Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and their advisers. The principal U.S. objective for this review session is to obtain the Soviet Union's agreement to correct its violations of the ABM treaty and to satisfy other U.S. concerns regarding Soviet noncompliance with its obligations under the treaty.


The Soviet Union's large, phased-array radar at Krasnoyarsk is a significant violation of a central element of the ABM treaty. The Krasnoyarsk radar will be one of the key topics of the upcoming review. In preparation for the upcoming review, the President has issued guidance that the U.S. delegation should continue to make it clear that the existence of the Krasnoyarsk radar violation calls into question the viability of the ABM treaty and, therefore, it should be dismantled without further delay and without condition. Unless resolved, the Krasnoyarsk radar violation will force the United States to consider the exercise of its rights under international law to take appropriate and proportionate responses.


In this context, the United States will also have to consider whether to declare the Krasnoyarsk radar to be a material breach of the ABM treaty. The President has also directed that the Department of Defense, working with other executive branch agencies and the Congress, take the lead in developing a range of appropriate and proportionate responses for consideration if the Soviet Union continues to refuse to correct the Krasnoyarsk violation.


After hearing what the Soviet Union has to say at the 5-year ABM treaty review, should the situation remain unresolved, the President will consult with the Congress and our allies concerning next steps.