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Cablegram to Prime Minister Nehru of India on Nuclear Disarmament.

December 15, 1957

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I have read with great sympathy your earnest and eloquent public appeal of November 28 on disarmament. This is a matter which has also concerned me deeply for a very long time.

In the days immediately following the end of World War II, the United States proposed that the dreadful power of the atomic bomb, which we alone then possessed, be forever denied all nations. We hoped, instead, that the wonders of the nuclear age could be devoted wholly to the uses of peace. This plan was refused and we were left with no choice but to maintain our armed strength. Since this time the United States has continued an unremitting effort to achieve a just system of disarmament and a secure peace for all nations. We have repeatedly stated our readiness, indeed our anxiety, to reduce the possibility of war through arms regulation and control, to stop tests of nuclear weapons, and to devote a part of our huge expenditures for armaments to the great causes of mankind's welfare. Our only concern is that these measures be accomplished in a way that will not increase the risk of war or threaten the security of any nation. We earnestly believe that the plan which we joined with the United Kingdom, France and Canada in suggesting at the London disarmament talks on August 29 offers a meaningful opportunity for removing fear and gaining international trust. It is a source of great personal regret to me that these proposals have not so far been found acceptable by the Soviet Union even as a basis for negotiations.

In these circumstances, I have been able to reach no other conclusion than that, for the time being, our security must continue to depend to a great degree on our making sure that the quality and quantity of our military weapons are such as to dissuade any other nation from the temptation of aggression. The United States, I can assure you unequivocally, will never use its armed might for any purpose other than defense.

I know that the subject of testing of nuclear weapons is of understandable concern to many. I have given this matter long and prayerful thought. I am convinced that a cessation of nuclear weapons tests, if it is to alleviate rather than merely to conceal the threat of nuclear war, should be undertaken as a part of a meaningful program to reduce that threat. We are prepared to stop nuclear tests immediately in this context. However, I do not believe that we can accept a proposal to stop nuclear experiments as an isolated step, unaccompanied by any assurances that other measures--which would go to the heart of the problem-would follow. We are at a stage when testing is required particularly for the development of important defensive uses of these weapons. To stop these tests at this time, in the absence of knowledge that we can go on and achieve effective limitations on nuclear weapons production and on other elements of armed strength, as well as a measure of assurance against surprise attack, is a sacrifice which we could not in prudence accept. To do so could increase rather than diminish the threat of aggression and war. I believe that bolder and more far-reaching measures are required. Specifically, I believe that any government which declares its desire to agree not to use nuclear weapons should, if they are sincere, be prepared to agree to bring an end to their production. Agreement to devote all future production of fissionable material to peaceful uses is, as I see it, the most important step that can be taken. Together with this we have proposed that we begin to transfer to peaceful uses, on a fair and equitable basis, fissionable material presently tied up in stocks of nuclear weapons. We believe this is the way to a true reduction of the nuclear threat and to an increase in confidence among nations. So far we have not had a reasoned explanation from the Soviet Union of whatever objections it might have to this program.

I agree that it is in the power of my country along with those others who possess nuclear weapons to put an end to the fear and horror which the possibility of their use imposes. I want to assure you with all the sincerity of which I am capable that we stand ready, unbound by the past, to continue our efforts to seek a disarmament agreement, including the cessation of nuclear testing, that will promote trust, security and understanding among all people.



Note: This cablegram to His Excellency Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, was released at the American Embassy Residence in Paris. The cable was sent in response to the Prime Minister's public appeal of November 28, 1957, directed "to the great leaders, more especially of America and Russia, in whose hands fate and destiny have placed such tremendous power today to mould this world and either to raise it to great heights or to hurl it to the pit of disaster." Prime Minister Nehru appealed to world leaden "to stop all nuclear test explosions and thus to show to the world that they are determined to end this menace, and to protest also to bring about effective disarmament."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Cablegram to Prime Minister Nehru of India on Nuclear Disarmament. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234001

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