I think the television cameras captured very accurately the look of disappointment on my face when I finally left the meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, with General Secretary Gorbachev.
Mikhail and I had gotten into a discussion of the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Yes, it was breathtaking. The US delegation was supposed to be on our way home, but naturally we stayed through Sunday because we seemed to be making real progress.
Finally after making all this progress, Mikhail said it all hinged on us stopping our Strategic Defense Initiative program, what others called our Star Wars plan to protect ourselves from incoming nuclear missiles. Gorbachev hadn’t mentioned this condition before.
Well, I gave him several arguments. I didn’t want him to think we were developing this technology only to be better prepared for a fight, so I offered to give it away. He said, "I don’t believe you." I said, "Well, maybe you’re judging by your own people."
He repeated that none of the progress we discussed was possible unless we dropped SDI. I eventually blew my top and said, "There’s no way." And we left.
- Ronald Reagan -