|August 31, 1988
Unilateral Statement Following ABM Treaty Review
The United States and the Soviet Union conducted the third Review of the ABM Treaty as
required at five-year intervals by the provisions of that Treaty. The Review was conducted from
August 24, 1988 to August 31, 1988. The U.S. Delegation was led by William F. Burns, Director
of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
During the Review, the United States emphasized the importance of Soviet violations of the
ABM Treaty, which are a threat to the viability of the Treaty. Throughout the Review
Conference, the Soviet Union gave no indication that it was prepared to correct the violations
without linking their agreement to do so to unacceptable demands.
Specifically, the United States discussed with the Soviets its serious concern that the Soviet
Union's deployment of a large phased-array radar near Krasnoyarsk constitutes a significant
violation of a central element of the ABM Treaty. Such radars take years to build and are a key
to providing a nation-wide defense -- which is prohibited by the Treaty. The Treaty's restrictions
on the location, orientation, and functions of such radars are, thus, essential provisions of the
Treaty. Hence, the Krasnoyarsk violation is very serious, particularly when it is recognized that
the radar constitutes one of a network of such radars that have the inherent potential for attack
assessment in support of ballistic missile defense.
In order for the Soviet Union to correct this violation, the Krasnoyarsk radar must be
dismantled. The United States has been urging the Soviet Union for more than five years, both in
the Standing Consultative Commission established by the Treaty and in other diplomatic channels,
to correct this clear violation by dismantling the radar. During the Review, the U.S. outlined the
specific Soviet actions necessary to correct this violation in a verifiable manner. The United
States has also made clear that the continuing existence of the Krasnoyarsk radar makes it
impossible to conclude any future arms agreements in the START or Defense and Space areas.
The United States has observed a slowdown in construction, but this slowdown, or even a full
construction freeze, would not be sufficient either to correct the Treaty violation or to meet U.S.
concerns about the significant impact of the violation.
The United States cannot continue indefinitely to tolerate this clear and serious Treaty
violation. The violation must be corrected. Until the Krasnoyarsk radar is dismantled, it will
continue to raise the issue of material breach and proportionate responses. Nothing that occurred
during the Review Conference or its completion should be interpreted as derogating in any way
from rights the U.S. has under international law with regard to any Soviet violation of the Treaty.
Since the Soviet Union was not prepared to satisfy U.S. concerns with respect to the Krasnoyarsk
radar violation at the Review Conference, the United States will have to consider declaring this
continuing violation a material breach of the Treaty. In this connection, the United States
reserves all its rights, consistent with international law, to take appropriate and proportionate
responses in the future.
During the ABM Treaty Review, the United States also discussed the violation of the ABM
Treaty involving the illegally deployed radars at Gomel. The U.S. also reserves its rights to
respond to this violation in an appropriate and proportionate manner. The United States also
discussed with the Soviet Union a number of ABM-related compliance concerns, the totality of
which suggests that the Soviet Union may be preparing a prohibited ABM territorial defense.
This is a particularly serious concern. As the President has noted, such a development "would
have profound implications for the vital East-West balance. A unilateral Soviet territorial ABM
capability acquired in violation of the ABM Treaty could erode our deterrent and leave doubts
about its capability."
The U.S. continues to have deep, continuing concerns about the implications of the pattern of
Soviet non-compliance with the ABM Treaty. As President Reagan observed in December 1987:
No violations of a treaty can be considered to be a minor matter, nor can there be
confidence in agreements if a country can pick and choose which provisions of an
agreement it will comply with . . . . correcting their violations will be a true
test of Soviet willingness to enter a more constructive relationship and broaden the
basis for cooperation between our two countries on security matters.
The U.S. will not accept Soviet violations or a double standard of Treaty compliance, and
reserve the right to take appropriate and proportionate responses in the future.