Arms Control Negotiations

February 22, 1985

Report Outline
Agenda for Geneva
Nato, Soviet Concerns
History of Arms Control
Focus on ‘Star Wars’
Special Focus

Agenda for Geneva

Three ‘Interrelated’ Subjects Laid on Table

After a 13-month hiatus, the United States and the Soviet Union are about to return to the bargaining table in Geneva, Switzerland, to resume arms control negotiations. The talks, scheduled to begin March 12, will for the first time encompass three separate categories of arms: strategic nuclear weapons, intermediate-range nuclear weapons and—a category never before given special consideration—space weapons.

But no sooner was the agreement to resume negotiations announced than the prospects for their successful outcome were clouded by conflicting interpretations of the ambiguously worded announcement itself. The document to which both delegations agreed Jan. 8 specified that all three areas be “considered and resolved in their interrelationship.” Subsequent statements by Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko made clear the Soviet position that no agreement can be reached in any one area unless agreement is also reached in the other two. “If no progress were made in space,” he said Jan. 13 in a television interview with Soviet journalists, “then none could be made in the question of strategic weapons.” American spokesmen denied such iron-clad “linkage” was intended. “Interrelationships, yes,” explained White House spokesman Larry Speakes, “but as far as linkage where one doesn't proceed without the other, no, that's not our position.”

Another potential conflict that became immediately apparent centered around President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as SDI or, to its critics, “Star Wars.” Now in the research stage, SDI envisions a new type of non-nuclear, space-based defense against nuclear attack that its supporters say would remove the enemy's incentive to use nuclear weapons. Advocates say the research program does not violate the terms of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which forbids the deployment of weapons in space, and say it should not be used as a “bargaining chip” in Geneva. Only if the program passes from the research stage to the development and deployment of weapons, they say, should SDI be a subject of negotiation. President Reagan reiterated this position in a recent interview. Asked if he would halt SDI research in return for Soviet concessions on offensive weapons, he replied: “No, I would want to proceed with what we're doing….”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Arms Control and Disarmament
Feb. 14, 2020  The New Arms Race
Dec. 13, 2013  Chemical and Biological Weapons
Mar. 2010  Dangerous War Debris
Oct. 02, 2009  Nuclear Disarmament Updated
Jan. 27, 1995  Non-Proliferation Treaty at 25
Dec. 24, 1987  Defending Europe
Feb. 22, 1985  Arms Control Negotiations
Jun. 08, 1979  Strategic Arms Debate
Apr. 09, 1969  Prospects for Arms Control
Mar. 15, 1961  New Approaches to Disarmament
Feb. 25, 1960  Struggle for Disarmament
Nov. 07, 1958  Arms Control: 1958
Jun. 11, 1957  Inspection for Disarmament
Jul. 11, 1955  Controlled Disarmament
Oct. 09, 1933  The Disarmament Conference, 1933
Jan. 05, 1932  World Disarmament Conference of 1932
Apr. 08, 1929  Efforts Toward Disarmament
Mar. 13, 1928  The League of Nations and Disarmament
Feb. 22, 1927  The United States and Disarmament
Alliances and Security Agreements
Arms Control and Disarmament
International Law and Agreements