Reagan Has New Proposal, Asks Arms Talks Extension : Soviet Offer ‘Short’ in Some Areas
President Reagan announced today that he is making a new nuclear weapons limitation proposal to the Soviet Union and that he will request the current round of negotiations in Geneva be extended to consider it.
In a nationally televised statement, Reagan said the latest Soviet offer “unfortunately fell considerably short” in certain areas. But, he said, there were also positive “seeds” for an agreement and that he had built on them with the new U.S. offer.
Significantly, he called both sides’ proposals “milestones” in the quest for reductions of nuclear weapons. “I believe progress is indeed possible if the Soviet leadership is willing to match our own commitment to a better relationship,” Reagan said.
Just before his announcement, Reagan told four Soviet journalists in an interview that he would accept some of the figures proposed by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who called last month for a reduction of about 50% in missiles and bombers carrying nuclear warheads.
Reagan said the U.S. offer calls for “deep cuts” in offensive weapons, research on defensive systems and “no cheating.” But the President said he would not divulge further details. He said the American proposal would be offered in Geneva on Friday.
“It is my hope that our new proposal would enable both our nations to start moving away from ever larger arsenals,” the President said.
The Soviet proposal, in a letter to Reagan from Gorbachev last month, and the U.S. response are designed to make headway in the slow-moving negotiations before the two leaders meet at the summit in the Swiss city Nov. 19-20.
Reagan, during a hurried question-and-answer session after his statement, was asked if he would try to negotiate on arms directly with Gorbachev during the summit.
“Yes, of course, we’ll be negotiating with Gorbachev,” he said.
Reagan called the U.S. proposal serious and detailed.
Gorbachev last month offered to set a ceiling of 1,250 nuclear delivery vehicles--bombers and missiles that carry nuclear warheads--for both sides. That would amount to about a 50% cutback in the Soviet arsenal.
The Soviet leader also called for a ceiling of 6,000 warheads. According to U.S. analysts, the Soviet total is headed toward 13,000 or more.
Gorbachev’s proposal, in a letter delivered by Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze to the President, prompted Reagan and his advisers to reassess the position the United States has taken in the negotiations.
The Washington Post said the United States would offer a refinement of the Soviet plan by proposing a 50% cut in the number of warheads deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles .The Post said that the United States would propose 4,500 warheads on land-based missiles for each side.