THE REYKJAVIK SUMMIT : Shultz Text: Reagan ‘Magnificent’ but Talks Left U.S. Disappointed

Associated Press

Here is the text of Secretary of State George P. Shultz’s opening statement at a news briefing Sunday on the results of the Reykjavik summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev:

I have just spent two full, intensive days watching the President of the United States engage with the general secretary of the Soviet Union over the full range of issues that we are concerned about together. The President’s performance was magnificent, and I have never been so proud of my President as I have been in these sessions and particularly this afternoon.

During the course of these two days, extremely important potential agreements were reached: to reduce in the first instance strategic arms in half; to deal effectively with intermediate-range missiles; although we didn’t finally have the opportunity to come to grips with it, probably to work out something satisfactory about nuclear testing; a satisfactory manner of addressing regional issues, humanitarian concerns and a variety of bilateral matters, and a tremendous amount of headway in the issues in space and defense involving the ABM (anti-ballistic missile) treaty.


Creativity, Ingenuity

Throughout all of this, the President was constructive in reaching out and using his creativity and ingenuity to find these very sweeping and substantial and important agreements. It has been clear for a long time, and it was certainly clear today and particularly this afternoon, the importance the Soviet leader attaches to the Strategic Defense Initiative. And I think it was quite apparent that at least a key reason why it was possible to reach such sweeping potential agreements was the very fact of SDI’s vigorous presence.

In seeking to deal with these issues, the President was ready to agree to a 10-year period of nonwithdrawal from the ABM treaty, a period during which the United States would do research, development and testing which is permitted by the ABM treaty and, of course, after which we would be permitted to deploy if we chose.

However, as the agreement that might have been said, during this 10-year period, in effect, all offensive strategic arms and ballistic missiles would be eliminated, so that at the end of the period the deployment of Strategic Defense would be substantially altered in what was needed and would be in the nature of an insurance policy--insurance against cheating, insurance against somebody getting hold of these weapons, so it would maintain an effective shield for the United States, for our allies, for the Free World.

As we came more and more down to the final stages, it became more and more clear that the Soviet Union’s objective was effectively to kill off the SDI program and to do so by seeking a change, described by them as strengthening, but a change in the ABM treaty that would so constrain research permitted under it that the program would not be able to proceed at all forcefully.

The President, hard as he had worked for this extraordinary range and importance of agreements, simply would not turn away from the basic security interests of the United States, our allies and the Free World by abandoning this essential defensive program. He had to bear in mind, and did bear in mind, that not only is the existence of the Strategic Defense program a key reason why we were able potentially to reach these agreements, but undoubtedly its continued existence and potential would be the kind of program you need in the picture to ensure yourself that the agreements reached would be effectively carried out.

Refusal to Compromise

And so, in the end, with great reluctance, the President, having worked so hard, creatively and constructively for these potentially tremendous achievements, simply had to refuse to compromise the security of the United States and our allies by abandoning the shield that’s held in front of the Free World.


So in the end we are deeply disappointed at this outcome, although I think it is important to recognize how effectively and constructively and hard the President worked and how much he achieved potentially, how ready he was to go absolutely the last--not just the last mile, but as you can see from what I have told you, quite a long distance to try to bring into being these potentially very significant agreements. But he could not allow the essential ingredient to be destroyed in the process, and would not do so.