Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1985 Feb 20 We
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for CNN (visiting Washington)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: British Residence, Washington DC
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Ralph Begleiter, CNN
Editorial comments: 0645-0800 MT gave interviews for the American networks. Copyright in the broadcast from which this transcript is taken is retained by CNN and the transcript is reproduced by permission of CNN.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1092
Themes: Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (USA), Monetary policy, Northern Ireland, Terrorism

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

Good-day, Madam Prime Minister, welcome to Cable News Network. The United States and the Soviet Union sit down to begin arms control talks in just a few weeks. How do you think the US should handle the talks on space weapons? Must there be a negotiation immediately on space weapons in order to produce progress in the other two areas?

Prime Minister

They have indicated, from the first communique, that space matters are matters to be talked about during the course of these negotiations. I am not quite sure yet how they will divide up the discussions. It is all under one kind of umbrella and it obviously will divide into at least two or three groups. How they will take it, I am sure Mr. Nitze who will be in charge, is very expert; he will be able the best to judge.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

But how do you think the United States should handle the space question of the talks? [end p1]

Prime Minister

Well to some extent, it is governed already by existing treaties. As you know, I supported President Reagan very strongly and very firmly in going for more research into SDI. The Soviet Union was already doing a good deal and in some respects had gone well beyond our capabilities. Anti-satellite capabilities, for example, she has. So we had to do it to get a balance restored.

Now, you cannot verify how much research nations are doing, so research is not affected in any way by the anti-ballistic missile treaty. Once it gets beyond that stage - and that will take a number of years - to possible deployment, that does come within the treaty and then it must be negotiated. Now, how much negotiation they do short of that is a matter for discussion between the two.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

Do you think that the deployment question should be negotiated well before the research is complete or in effect put off that negotiation for a number of years?

Prime Minister

I think they will need to go quite a way ahead with their research before they have a full comprehension of exactly what is possible. [end p2]

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

One of the things you will be talking with President Reagan and his advisers with here in Washington is undoubtedly the US economy, the deficit, high interest rates and the effect on the British pound and European currencies. You have described yourself as an admirer of President Reagan. Would it not be better, in terms of producing an end result, lowering the deficit and strengthening European currencies, if you were a bit more of an honest critic in your meetings with President Reagan and his advisers?

Prime Minister

No. We do discuss fairly frankly, fairly candidly, but any leader of one country bears very much in mind that you simply cannot tell another person how to run their affairs. Of course you cannot, and it would be quite wrong to do so. All you can say is: “Look! If you go on this way, it will have certain consequences for the rest of the world! It will have certain consequences for the Third World! That may react on some of your own economy and therefore, are there not steps we can both take before we get into any extreme positions?” That is the way one approaches it.

I noticed that in the last inaugural message - the last State of the Union message - the one before this one - the Ronald ReaganPresident said: “We have got to have a down payment to reduce the deficit” and that was put into action. I noticed that there are certain proposals now before Congress about how further to reduce the deficit. I believe that both the President and Congress and commentators are very much aware that you cannot go on indefinitely [end p3] drawing in capital from the rest of the world, pushing up the strength of the dollar, without it having a great effect on your industries - already they are complaining - a great effect on your farming, and so these things, to some extent, have their own in-built balances. I have lived with a very weak American dollar during my prime ministership, and a very strong American dollar; one knows that no extremes can every hold. When we have a very weak American dollar, everything invoiced in dollars, all your raw materials, are cheap. When you have a very strong American dollar, you can export. So you take whatever the advantage is of either situation.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

Let me turn to another subject briefly. You are aware, of course, that millions of dollars in weapons and other support goes to the IRA from the United States. I am sure you are not pleased with that. Do you not feel there is the need to make some sign of accommodation on the question of Ireland in order to satisfy, if you will, the many Americans who apparently feel that they have a moral responsibility to help the IRA?

Prime Minister

I do not think there is anything that you can call a moral responsibility to contribute money which goes to kill Irishmen. 70&pcnt; of the deaths from the IRA are of Irishmen, north and south of the border. I could hardly call that a moral responsibility. And also, of course, it goes to kill allies and sometimes American citizens who are caught in these bombing [end p4] attacks, in Britain, as they were with the Harrods bomb.

The Republic of Ireland and Garret FitzGerald has been a wonderful person in condemning terrorism and condemning money for terrorism and you see the action that the Republic took yesterday. Passed a bill through in record time in order to seize funds in a bank account that would otherwise have gone to the IRA. The IRA is the enemy not only of Northern Ireland; it is the enemy of democracy, and the enemy of democracy in the Republic.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

You do not see any need to make any kind of accommodation from your &dubellip;

Prime Minister

Garret FitzGerald and I are discussing - we will go on discussing - to try to get a stable position in Northern Ireland, but any change can only come about by consent and the New Ireland Forum Report was the first to recognise that and accept it, and also the first to condemn terrorism.

So yes, we do talk together. We do have a dialogue together, and we shall continue to do so, because it is important.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

Thank you very much, Prime Minister Thatcher. Thank you for joining us. This is Ralph Begleiter in Washington.