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 IRN (visiting UN)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Hyatt Hotel, New York
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Andrew Manderstam, IRN
Editorial comments: 1745-1815 MT gave UK radio and television interviews.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 959
Themes: Commonwealth (general), Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Media

Andrew Manderstam, IRN

What have you actually achieved here in your Summit Meeting with President Reagan and the other Western leaders?

Prime Minister

Total unanimity and full support for President Reagan. Indeed, we say that he is our champion and we could have no better nor braver champion than President Reagan in the talks at Geneva. An indication that we hope the result of those talks will be a new impetus in the arms control (talks) because as you know they got deadlocked in Geneva, and also a view that we thought that other major regional issues should be discussed.

Andrew Manderstam, IRN

What about the problems outstanding? You said that you have now agreed to support fully President Reagan in his talks with Mr. Gorbachev. Was it necessary to come to New York?

Prime Minister

I think that it was necessary because I think that some of us might have felt we were not being fully consulted before [end p1] President Reagan went to the talks and he would not have had that for worlds. We do consult through the diplomatic network but you know, it is not the same as sitting round a table. I think it was both a right and generous gesture of the President and much appreciated by those who were round the table, and that we know that he will also let us know soon after the talks exactly how they went, and we are very grateful for that too.

Andrew Manderstam, IRN

The fact that the French President, M. Mitterrand, was not present, is that an embarrassment?

Prime Minister

I do not think of it as embarrassment. It was for President Mitterrand to decide. I am sure that he is a part of the Western Alliance and has been very very firm on defence matters, so the fact that he just did not decide to come to this forum, I do not think you should conclude too much from that.

Andrew Manderstam, IRN

On SDI, the so-called Star Wars, are you satisfied that President Reagan has now made clear his position and that it is fully understood, not only by public opinion but also by some leaders? I think you had some observations about Commonwealth leaders not being fully conversant with it. [end p2]

Prime Minister

Well that was not quite so much on SDI. I heard from some of the Commonwealth leaders, and I heard again in the United Nations this morning, what I think is a wrong assessment of nuclear weapons, and they say the world is a very much more dangerous place and war much more likely because of nuclear weapons. No war has yet been caused by nuclear weapons. One war has been terminated by the use of nuclear weapons. The fact is nuclear weapons have prevented war between the two great power blocs of the world and that is something which is very good. Now, what we are trying to do is to say that is a weapon, the most destructive weapon we have ever had—do not ever think that a conventional war is cosy, it is not, it is most destructive and we have to try to find a defence for that. You return to negotiating on arms control on a question of balance, and that is always the basis. You only secure if both sides feel that there is a balance of weapons, a balance of armaments and you can have verification, and I just feel that sometimes things get a little bit confused when people are discussing nuclear weapons.

Andrew Manderstam, IRN

Were you able to receive reassurances from Mr. Reagan that he would not deploy the so-called Star Wars weapon without first negotiating?

Prime Minister

Oh yes, he has said that many times. We issued that [end p3] statement from the talks at Camp David which I had when I went to visit him just before last Christmas, and it has been reaffirmed many times since, and indeed, when the question of the interpretation of the ABM Treaty came up about testing, the Administration reaffirmed that it would be the conventional interpretation; that certainly some testing did come within the treaty, and that also would have to be a matter for negotiation according to what the treaty says.

Andrew Manderstam, IRN

In his address before the United Nations, President Reagan seemed to broaden the dialogue for the Summit in Geneva, talking about regional conflicts. Could that delay matters as far as arms control is concerned?

Prime Minister

But I have always thought that regional matters were going to be on the agenda at the Geneva Summit. It would be very strange if this first meeting between the two great leaders for some time did not discuss these great regional conflicts. This morning, he put forward a totally different idea, about a possible way forward to solve them and we need to consider that very carefully. But to me the significant thing was, he said: “Look! These conflicts have been going on for a very long time” —and one for example is Afghanistan— “They have been going on for a very long time. We cannot just leave it there. Can we not find some way of solving [end p4] them?” and he put forward one particular way, which we will consider.

Andrew Manderstam, IRN

One final question. A lot has been said, a lot has been written, about the so-called propaganda wars between Washington and Moscow. How important is it and how much impact do you think it might have on the course of the negotiations?

Prime Minister

I myself do not think that it will have a very great deal because I think deep in people's hearts and minds they know the difference between freedom under the Western Alliance and absence of freedom under the Communist bloc and that just cannot be dealt with by public relations or propaganda. It is there. We know it. We feel it.