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Former Soviet leader Gorbachev notes collapse of trust in relations between leading powers

The former Soviet leader says that as long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a danger that someday they will be used
Mikhail Gorbachev Alexandr Sherbak/TASS
Mikhail Gorbachev
© Alexandr Sherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, October 10. /TASS/. Former Soviet leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev notes collapse of trust in relations between the leading powers in the recent years.

"But the worst thing that has happened in recent years is the collapse of trust in relations between major powers which according to the United Nations Charter bear the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security and which still possess vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and must reduce them until their complete elimination. This is still their binding commitment under the Non-Proliferation Treaty," Gorbachev said in an address to the participants in the International Conference The Legacy of the Reykjavik Summit dedicated to the 30th anniversary of his meeting with the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. The conference is being held on October 10 in Iceland.

The former Soviet leader expressed concern that "the window to a nuclear weapon-free world opened in Reykjavik is being shut and sealed" "right before our eyes."

"As long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a danger that someday they will be used: as a result either of accident or technical failure, or of evil intent of man - an insane person or terrorist," Gorbachev noted. "We must therefore reaffirm the goal of prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons."

According to Gorbachev, the talks in Reykjavik thirty years ago were held in a complicated situation.

"The overall situation in our relations was also causing grave concern. Many thought that relations were sliding back into a Cold War. US Navy ships were entering our territorial waters; the United States had tested a new, highly powerful nuclear weapon. The tensions were aggravated by hostile rhetoric and "spy scandals," he said in the address, adding he was "not in the best of spirits" when he was saying good-bye to President Reagan. However, in his words, he told a news conference after the summit that he thought it to be a breakthrough.

"Looking into the eyes of hundreds of journalists, I said to myself that we had no right to disappoint people, deprive them of hope for ending the arms race," Gorbachev recalled. "The key message in my statement for the press was: "In spite of all the drama, Reykjavik is not a failure - it is a breakthrough. For the first time, we looked over the horizon." This is the view I still hold today."

"It was the breakthrough at Reykjavik that set off the process of real reduction of nuclear weapons. The unprecedented agreements we reached with Presidents Reagan and Bush on strategic and medium-range nuclear arms and on tactical weapons have made it possible to reduce the stockpiles and eliminate thousands of nuclear warheads - more than 80% of Cold War arsenals, as the Russia and the United States reported to the Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference," Gorbachev underscored.