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Public Papers - 1990

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Soviet-United States Short-Range Nuclear Forces Negotiations


On June 8, the Soviets proposed that short-range nuclear forces (SNF) negotiations in Europe begin before a conventional forces in Europe (CFE) agreement is reached. The President has stated that SNF negotiations should begin after the conclusion of a CFE agreement. In addition, NATO strategy is based on maintaining an adequate mix of nuclear and conventional weapons. NATO will be discussing its approach to SNF negotiations over the next few months, most notably at the upcoming summit in London.

NATO has significantly and unilaterally reduced its nuclear forces over the past decade. In addition, the United States is canceling the follow-on to the Lance and will not be progressing with the modernization of nuclear artillery in Europe. The Soviet offer of unilateral cuts, therefore, would be welcome since it would parallel NATO's actions. The Soviets have a preponderance of forces in this category in Europe, and any unilateral reduction can help enhance predictability and stability.

The position of NATO, as articulated in the Turnberry North Atlantic Council Communique of June 9, is that negotiations on U.S. and Soviet SNF systems in Europe should begin shortly after a CFE agreement is concluded.

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