315. Editorial Note

On December 15, 1987, Special Adviser to the President and the Secretary of State on Arms Control Matters Paul Nitze spoke before the National Press Club in Washington. Nitze began his remarks by recalling that when he was appointed in 1981 to head the U.S. delegation to the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) negotiations, he made two decisions:

First, we would prepare a draft of the ‘zero option’ treaty we wanted before the negotiations began.

Second, we would keep an issues book in which we would enter, day-by-day, what had been said by either side on each issue that arose in the talks.

“At the end of the first year, there were 35 issues in our book. Of those 35, five issues were clearly the most important, so we focused on those five. Over the succeeding years, especially at Reykjavik, we finally removed the five issues. But having removed those boulders blocking an agreement, we still faced a lot of rocks.

“This past October, after the 2-day meeting in Washington between Secretary Shultz and Foreign Minister Shevardnadze in which the INF issues that loomed largest were resolved, it was left that Soviet Ambassador Viktor Karpov and I were to try to resolve the remaining issues the next day. I asked Karpov how many issues he had on his list, and he said there were 35, of which five were the most important.

“I concluded that it is inherent in the human mind, when confronted with a very complex situation, to simplify it to 35 considerations, and then to 5.”

Nitze then referenced the progress made during the previous week’s Washington U.S.-Soviet summit and noted the “next steps” not only regarding the INF treaty but also concerning other U.S.-Soviet issues, including arms control, defense and space issues, and “maintaining our focus on the broader context of U.S.-Soviet relations.” After discussing the first two in detail, Nitze placed them in the broader context of U.S.-Soviet relations: “Attaining progress in the various arms control areas is only part of the complex equation of the difficult U.S.-Soviet relationship. A long-term, sustained improvement in the relationship will depend greatly on resolving differences in other crucial areas.

“For 2 years now, we have worked hard to establish with the Soviet Union a process that addresses a full range of issues—what we call the four-part agenda that encompasses arms reductions, human rights, regional conflicts, and bilateral relations. Serious differences in all of [Page 1449] these areas have accumulated over the last four decades, and they are the source of the profound mistrust and suspicion that characterize East-West relations today.

“We recently have seen greater Soviet willingness to discuss these matters in detail, and this has led to progress in some areas. For example, agreements reached over the last 2 years have greatly increased the opportunities for contact between U.S. and Soviet citizens. President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev have agreed that the effort to foster greater cooperation and contact on the basis of genuine mutual benefit should continue.

“In two other areas—human rights and regional affairs—there remains a long way to go. We have recognized and welcomed recent Soviet human rights steps but have pointed out that human rights will remain a source of tension in East-West relations until the Soviet Union fully observes its international human rights obligations. Similarly, we have made clear that Soviet involvement in regional conflicts—whether directly, as in Afghanistan, or through support for such regimes as Vietnam and Nicaragua—inevitably will affect Western perceptions of the Soviet Union’s ultimate intentions.

“The United States is ready to address all the problems candidly and constructively. In the end, however, the Soviet Union must demonstrate that it is willing to deal with its own people and its neighbors through dialogue, not intimidation. The burden both sides will bear for the foreseeable future is to manage our competition peacefully and to build a more stable and constructive relationship.”

Nitze concluded his address, stating: “Thus, we have a very full agenda in the days ahead. We have no intention of resting on our laurels; to the contrary, we want our success in INF to be the springboard for progress in other areas.

“If we are to find further success, it will be because we will succeed in replicating the elements that led to the INF Treaty: strength, domestic coherence, and unity with our allies. With these assets, and with patience, we can take further steps down the road toward a safer and stabler world, with lower levels of offenses and increased reliance on effective defenses, should they prove feasible, and with a lessened risk of war. That is our ultimate goal.” (Department of State Bulletin, February 1988, pages 81–84)