Reykjavík Summit

Reykjavík Summit

The Reykjavik Summit was a summit meeting between U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, held in the famous house of Höfði in Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland, on 11 October-12, 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 Reagan had proposed banning all ballistic missiles, but wanted to continue research on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) that could potentially be shared with the Soviets. Yet Soviet suspicion of SDI continued, and U.S.-Soviet relations — already strained by the failure of the the previous year — were further strained by the Daniloff-Zakharov espionage affair.

At Reykjavik, Reagan sought to include discussion of human rights, emigration of Soviet Jews and dissidents, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. However, Gorbachev sought to limit the talks solely to arms control. In the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the Soviets accepted in principle the "double-zero" proposal for eliminating INF weapons from Europe (INF denoting "Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces" as distinct from ICBMs, or intercontinental ballistic missiles). The Russians also proposed a complete ballistic missile ban by 1996. The U.S. countered with a proposal to eliminate 50 percent of ballistic missiles: once the controversial Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) had been tested and shared, the remainder could be eliminated.

The negotiations failed because of Gorbachev's insistence on linking the SDI program to any agreement on eliminating INF missiles in Europe and reducing NATO tactical nuclear weapons and Warsaw Pact conventional forces, and because of Reagan and the American delegation's refusal to negotiate over SDI research. The meeting adjourned with no agreement. Nevertheless, participants and observers have referred to the summit as an enormous breakthrough which eventually facilitated the INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty), signed in Washington on December 8, 1987.


External links

* [ These previously secret documents] from the U.S and Soviet archives were added to the National Security Archive of George Washington University in October 2006.
* [ Reykjavik Summit: The Legacy and a Lesson for the Future] . By Dr. Nikolai Sokov at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. December 2007.

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