News – 1986 – KVUE Ch 24 Kathleen Campbell – Iceland Summit With President Reagan + USSR Gorbachov


The Reykjavík Summit was a summit meeting between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev….which was held in Höfði in Reykjavík, Iceland on 11–12 October 1986.  The talks collapsed at the last minute….but the progress that had been achieved eventually resulted in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union. 

In 1986, Gorbachev had proposed banning all ballistic missiles….but Reagan wanted to continue research on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)….which involved the militarization of outer space….so, Soviet suspicion of SDI continued….as U.S.and Soviet relations were already strained by the failure of the Geneva Summit the previous year….which had become further strained by the Daniloff–Zakharov espionage affair. 

At Reykjavík, Reagan sought to include discussion of human rights….immigration of Soviet Jews and dissidents….and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan….to which Gorbachev sought to limit the talks solely to arms control….resulting in the Soviets moving from the “double-zero” proposal for eliminating INF weapons from Europe….as initially proposed by President Reagan in November 1981….with INF denoting “Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces” as distinct from ICBMs…..or intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Soviets also proposed to eliminate 50% of all strategic arms….including ICBMs….and agreed not to include British or French weapons in the count. All this was proposed in exchange for an American pledge not to implement strategic defenses for the next ten years, in accordance with SALT I.

The Americans countered with a proposal to eliminate all ballistic missiles within ten years….but required the right to deploy strategic defenses against remaining threats afterwards. Gorbachev then suggested eliminating all nuclear weapons within a decade. Gorbachev, however, citing a desire to strengthen the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty)….added the condition that any SDI research be confined to laboratories for the ten-year period in question. Reagan argued that his proposed SDI research was allowed by any reasonable interpretation of the ABM treaty….and that he could not forget the pledge he made to Americans to investigate whether SDI was viable. 

The talks finally stalled, Reagan asking if Gorbachev would “turn down a historic opportunity because of a single word”, referring to his insistence on laboratory testing. Gorbachev asserted that it was a matter of principle, and the summit concluded.

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