Unilateral U.S. nuclear pullback in 1991 matched by rapid Soviet cuts

30 September 2016 — National Security Archive

Declassified documents tell inside story of “most spontaneous and dramatic reversal” of the arms race
Bush initiatives took up Gorbachev proposals from years earlier; combined effect produced “real disarmament at lightning speed”

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 561

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Washington D.C., September 30, 2016 – The unilateral nuclear withdrawals announced by President George H.W. Bush 25 years ago this week drew an eager response from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to produce what experts call “the most spontaneous and dramatic reversal” ever of the nuclear arms race, according to newly declassified documents from Soviet and U.S. files posted today by the National Security Archive to mark the anniversary of the Bush initiative.

The documents include the verbatim transcripts of Bush’s September 27, 1991 phone call to Gorbachev giving the Soviet leader a heads-up on the imminent White House announcement, and Gorbachev’s phone call with Bush on October 5 spelling out the dramatic Soviet nuclear pullbacks that matched and in some cases exceeded the American moves. 

Also in today’s posting – just declassified this year – are the actual Pentagon orders to U.S. military commanders on carrying out the nuclear withdrawals, the State Department reports on follow up talks in Moscow, translations of the Soviet transcripts of those talks, and internal Soviet assessments of how much the USSR would save from cutting the nuclear weapons involved in the initiative.

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