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Public Papers - 1992 - October

Statement on Senate Ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty


I am pleased that the Senate today gave its consent to the ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, START. The START negotiations began 10 years ago. These long years of negotiations culminated in an historic agreement, first with the Soviet Union and then with Russia, Ukraine, Byelarus, and Kazakhstan; true strategic arms reductions, not just limitations or controls.

START reduces United States and former Soviet strategic weapons by about 40 percent and makes even deeper cuts in the weapons of greatest concern, fast-flying ballistic missiles.

It also helps to ensure that the demise of the Soviet Union does not stimulate nuclear proliferation. In START, Ukraine, Byelarus, and Kazakhstan have all agreed to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states and to guarantee the elimination of strategic nuclear forces from their territory.

Finally, this historic agreement has paved the way for further path-breaking steps and far-reaching reductions. In large part because of START's verification provisions, I was able in my September 1991 and January 1992 initiatives to make major unilateral nuclear reductions and successfully challenge Presidents Gorbachev and Yeltsin to do the same. Of even greater significance, the START framework permitted President Yeltsin and me to reach agreement at our summit meeting last June, after just 5 months of negotiation, on extraordinary further reductions in strategic nuclear weapons. All the agreements reached over the past year, beginning with START, will reduce our strategic nuclear forces by about 75 percent from their 1990 level. As such, START and follow-on understandings have done much to reverse the hands on the nuclear doomsday clock.

With the Senate's action this morning, the United States will be prepared to ratify the START Treaty once the other four parties have acted. I would note with satisfaction that the Government of Kazakhstan has already approved START, and I urge the remaining parties, Russia, Byelarus, and Ukraine, to approve this historic treaty promptly, so its mandated reductions can begin without delay.

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