I AM GRATIFIED that the United Nations General Assembly has just endorsed an "Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space."
The subject of assistance and return has been discussed at meetings of the U.N. Outer Space Committee since 1962. The agreement would implement rights and obligations of the Outer Space Treaty. The proposed new agreement would require that parties to the treaty shall
--Immediately notify the appropriate authorities if they receive information that astronauts have accidentally landed or are in distress,
--Immediately take all possible steps to rescue astronauts who have accidentally landed on their territory and render them all necessary assistance,
--If necessary and if they are in a position to do so, extend assistance in search and rescue operations for astronauts who have alighted on the high seas,
--Safely and promptly return astronauts who have landed either on their territory or on the high seas, and
--Notify the appropriate authorities of space objects which have come down on their territory or on the high seas and, upon request, take steps to recover and return such objects.
I hope that this agreement will help to ensure that nations will assist astronauts in the event of accident or emergency. The agreement would carry forward the purpose of this administration to promote international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. On the occasion of the entry into force of the Outer Space Treaty on October 10, I said:
"Whatever our disagreements here on earth, however long it may take to resolve our conflicts whose roots are buried centuries deep in history, let us try to agree on this. Let us determine that the great space armadas of the future will go forth on voyages of peace--and will go forth in a spirit, not of national rivalry, but of peaceful cooperation and understanding.
"The next decade should increasingly become a partnership--not only between the Soviet Union and America, but among all nations under the sun and stars."