Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Jan 22 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for CBS

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Tom Fenton, CBS
Editorial comments: 1145-1230 MT gave interviews to the American networks.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 887
Themes: Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states)

Tom Fenton, CBS

Prime Minister, you were one of the driving forces behind the idea of having a NATO Summit. Now they are fairly rare things. I do not think we have had one for a number of years. What is the need for yet another Summit and especially a military one?

PM

It is the need to emphasise to the Soviet Union that it is still the NATO alliance, that Ronald Reaganthe President of the United States always consults his NATO allies and that he even comes to Europe to do so. We go to the United States to talk to him but he comes to Europe. It is to show that we are absolutely behind the President in the Intermediate Nuclear Weapons treaty and to show that we believe that what is now vital after the 50%; reductions that are being negotiated, is the next stage and we want to give him our views about that.

Tom Fenton, CBS

You say that the Alliance is absolutely behind the President in this medium-range missile treaty, yet it was widely said at the time that you had great reservations about the treaty and in fact are only endorsing it now because it would be even worse if the Senate refused to ratify the treaty or to perhaps attach some sort of killer amendments to it.

PM

No. that is not quite so. Let me put it this way. Right at the beginning when we all spotted that the Soviet Union was deploying these new weapons, SS20s targetted on Europe, we said [end p1] “You take those down or we will deploy” . Now you have got a little time to take them down and we negotiated for about three or four years for them to take them down. They did not. By which time we said “Right, we deploy.” and we are gradually coming up to the limit so that it is pretty well equal, so when it came about that we could have zero on both sides we were bound to say “Yes” because that was the condition on which we had deployed. So that is point number one.

Now point number two is this. Just let us get it straight. That treaty is only about one kind of weapons: intermediate land-based nuclear weapons. It is not about intermediate nuclear weapons on aircraft, it is not about intermediate nuclear weapons on Cruise missiles [sic]. So it is one particular sort targetted on Europe under which the Soviet Union had far more that we had so there has been no doubt that we are absolutely behind this treaty and it would be a disaster if the United States Ronald ReaganPresident had negotiated a treaty and it was not ratified. That would undermine his authority and future.

Tom Fenton, CBS

Would it be a good idea then if this NATO Alliance meeting went on record as refusing Mr. Gorbachev 's concept of the nuclear weapons free world, rejecting him?

PM

Well, I have always refused that. I am interested in a war-free world, not a nuclear-free world. You cannot dis-invent the knowledge of nuclear weapons any more than you can dis-invent the knowledge of dynamite or explosives. The knowledge is known. Tyrants have been born the world over. They will continue to be born and what we have to do is to have defence of sufficient level [end p2] and of a sufficient quality, including nuclear, to see that we are safe from attack because any attacker knows that he could never win and I believe that that means having some nuclear weapons.

Tom Fenton, CBS

Prime Minister, you have very close relationships with President Reagan. You also have a very warm relationship with Secretary Gorbachev. How do you explain this unique position?

PM

No difficulty at all. Secretary Gorbachev is a quite different leader from any other I have known in the Soviet Union. He talks, he debates, he argues very much more easily, he is very bold in his view of the Soviet Union, he is after Khrushchev, the first person to have said, “Look, all our hopes of communism are not being realised. It is not producing the standard of living, it is not producing the standard of technology, it is not producing the standard of social services. This total central control will not do, it will not do it, we have got to have more individual personal involvement” . That is bold. It is a big turnaround. It would mean that if he manages to get that in the Soviet Union, it will be an enlargement of freedom. I admire him for doing it, I admire his courage. I believe he is right. I then looked to see well now what is happening to external policy? And there I watched like a hawk because we do not fully see that there is a change in external policy and so we watch and we negotiate but when we negotiate, we do not just demand in return things that you cannot verify, what we say is “yes, we would like these weapons down, you want them down because you need to have fewer weapons to have a better internal policy. We must have strict verification and it is on [end p3] that basis we negotiate”

Tom Fenton, CBS

Finally, Prime Minister, are the Russians then still our enemies?

PM

Communism I believe is still our enemy because it is a denial of freedom and if communism wishes to expand by various means the world over, then we have to watch very carefully because we believe and know it is liberty and justice that is the right system.