Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 Oct 24 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for BBC (visiting UN)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Hyatt Hotel, New York
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: John Osman, BBC
Editorial comments: 1745-1815 MT gave UK radio and television interviews.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1173
Themes: Commonwealth (general), Commonwealth (South Africa), Defence (arms control), Trade, Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states)

John Osman, BBC

Prime Minister, what happened at the working session you had today with President Reagan and the other Western leaders?

Prime Minister

We had very constructive discussions. We all made it clear that we were fully behind the President when he goes to Geneva; fully behind him and that no-one would ever separate Europe or the other countries from the United States. We discussed the arms control prospects and we very much hope that a new impetus will come out of his talks with Mr. Gorbachev and those talks will be able to go forward. We also think that other regional matters really must be discussed as well.

John Osman, BBC

What do you think the prospects are for Geneva now?

Prime Minister

Well, I am very impressed with the amount of work on detail and all the ideas that have been considered by the President and his staff. They are really now totally dedicated to this most important meeting, because everyone [end p1] realises it is historic and they are very concerned that it should be a success, and of course, if it is a success it will be a success for both the President and Mr. Gorbachev, and I believe therefore that the chances are good. I believe the mood is there, I believe the resolve is there, and the feeling is there.

John Osman, BBC

In this great contest in the East-West debate to influence world opinion, do you think President Reagan, by his speech today, has now seized the initiative?

Prime Minister

I certainly think it was a most impressive speech. I listened to it with very very great admiration and, of course, he is a very great communicator and the ideas in it were extremely interesting. I think that he has perhaps taken the initiative again and I am very pleased about that.

John Osman, BBC

What do you feel about his regional peace process proposals?

Prime Minister

That is very complex and I think, rather than dash into an opinion, I would like to consider it and discuss it with some of our European partners. [end p2]

John Osman, BBC

Do you think that the United States is guilty, as has been alleged or suggested by Mr. Shevardnadze, of infringing the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty?

Prime Minister

No, I do not believe so. The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty does not prevent or prohibit research in any way and, indeed, of course, the Soviet Union is also doing research on SDI. What the ABM Treaty does is to preclude the deployment of nuclear weapons, deployment of anti-ballistic missiles, without discussion under the treaty and it also has some provisions on testing. President Reagan has reaffirmed the ABM Treaty and that of course, he will not deploy without negotiations. There are one or two things in that treaty which are a little bit ambiguous because …   . a number of things where it is alleged that there are infringements refer to matters in the treaty where the wording is not quite clear, and it may be that to which Mr. Shevardnadze is referring, in which case those words need to be clarified, and that is perhaps a task that could be done soon.

John Osman, BBC

One of the points that Mr. Shevardnadze made, touched upon verification, which President Reagan also emphasised the importance of, and he said that if there was not the necessary degree—this is Mr. Shevardnadze—if there was not the necessary degree of confidence over national technical means [end p3] then we, the Russians, are ready to supplement it with additional mutually agreed procedures. Do you see this as a sign of hope, a signal from the Kremlin that they will go further on verification?

Prime Minister

Whatever you agree, you have to be capable of verifying it. Otherwise there can be no basis of trust. Now the present procedures are not enough. Obviously, new procedures have to be devised and that is a matter for consideration, but you simply cannot have an arms agreement that will stick unless both sides are confident that things can be verified.

John Osman, BBC

It has been said, Prime Minister, that you were rather surprised at the Commonwealth Conference in the Bahamas, that you were struck by the negative view which Commonwealth leaders possibly had about the American position on disarmament. Is this so, and if so, why?

Prime Minister

It is not so much a negative view. Some members of the Commonwealth would see the United States and the Soviet Union not as two different groups of nations with ideological differences, the one America and the Western world, a free society, and the Communist bloc as an unfree Communist society. They tried to say that they are just two power blocs. [end p4] That is utter nonsense. The quality of life in the Western world and its prosperity is totally different from the quality of life in the Communist bloc and it seemed to me absurd to try to argue any other way, and if it were suggested that many of the countries, the non-aligned, would be as free as they are if it were not for American strength, then I would not agree. Suppose there were only one very powerful nation in the world, the Soviet Union. Do those people who are trying to say there are two power blocs, do those people really believe that if there were only one powerful bloc in the world that there would be as many free countries today as there are? Of course there would not and therefore we took issue with them on that interpretation very vigorously.

John Osman, BBC

One final question, Prime Minister, also on the Commonwealth, on the Accord on Southern Africa. Mrs. Winnie Mandela, the wife of Nelson Mandela, has made a rather personal attack on you, suggesting that you are racist and arrogant for resisting the whole world on sanctions at the conference. How do you react to that sort of charge?

Prime Minister

Well, I do not know Mrs. Mandela but I am sure she must be a very remarkable lady because she has had an extremely difficult time and she has been very courageous and I do not wish to say anything against her, but I stand absolutely on my [end p5] record as far as these things are concerned. Sanctions would not help. When I went to the first Commonwealth Conference as Prime Minister, it was to discuss Rhodesia. Full sanctions under United Nations auspices had been in existence for 12 years and they had not worked and they were not going to work, and I do not think that imposing sanctions on South Africa would help. It would add to the present difficult problem, unemployment and chaos. I can see little point in creating unemployment in Britain only to create more unemployment in South Africa and I do not think that would contribute to the result which I wish to see, which is that all people in South Africa, regardless of race, creed or colour are able to take part in the government of South Africa.