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International Economic Summit Meeting Exchange With Reporters Following the Final Session of the Summit Meeting.

May 08, 1977

REPORTER. I haven't seen the full Communiqué, but was there anything in there on nuclear nonproliferation?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. In the addendum to the brief Communiqué, there is a very clear commitment that we will pursue a 2-month study concerning the entire nuclear fuel cycle. We've got, in that meeting alone, four different kinds of nations-those that have signed a nuclear proliferation treaty and those who have not, those who have developed nuclear weapons, and those who have not.

So, we'll discuss a nuclear fuel cycle from a broad, nationwide inventory of uranium and other supplies extraction, the concentration of it, the enrichment so it can be used, strict nuclear safeguards, and then the disposal of waste. And this will be done very shortly. It was the most divisive and the most difficult question that we addressed.

Q. So, at the moment, you didn't reach agreement in these 2 days. You're just going to study it and try to reach agreement later?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct. We'll study it. But we put a deadline on the study for just 2 months in the future.

Q. Mr. President, when you say it was the most divisive discussion, I wonder if you could elaborate on that.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it was a subject that they've always agreed previously not to discuss, because nations have their own autonomy and sensitivities involved. They don't want the supply nations like ourselves and Canada and, in the future, Australia to tell them how to handle their waste products, particularly those countries that make nuclear weapons themselves.

And then, there's a question of different kinds of countries. We have about 12 or 15 nations who are referred to as threshold countries. Those are ones that have not yet acknowledged that they have explosive nuclear capability, but we think they either do or will very shortly. And how to deal with those countries, what kind of action to take--if we supply them with nuclear fuel as Canada did India, what should we do if they create an explosion? So, it's a very difficult question, and it's one that they have avoided, apparently, in years gone by. But it will be addressed this year.

Q. If I could follow up on how significant that is as an agreement to a study.

THE PRESIDENT. I think it's very significant to get that group to support publicly a study of this question, because it's one of the most politically divisive matters in almost every country there. Japan, for instance, Germany, our own country--we've had massive demonstrations even against the construction of light water reactors, which are safe as far as their operations are concerned.

And I think that all of us see that unless this is addressed, that the present concern about nuclear power and the proliferation .of weapon capability is going to get worse in the coming years instead of better.

Q. Mr. President, did you suggest this study, or does this represent a compromise from something else that you may have recommended?

THE PRESIDENT. No, we suggested this study, and I think it is accurate to say that after the long debate, all the other leaders thought it was a good idea.

Q. Mr. President, do you feel satisfied at the conclusion of the conference and the Communiqué? What's your feeling about the 2-day wrap-up?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I feel quite satisfied. We got acquainted with one another for the first time. I think that there was no disappointment that I feel in the final Communiqué, or decisions. The major question is whether or not to follow up.

Some of the more senior heads of state than I am said that quite often they've made very good decisions, but there's been no mechanism by which they could monitor progress.

And we have agreed to keep intact the small group of very highly qualified technicians who put together the preparation for this summit. Henry Owen will represent the United States. He will stay on duty until we make a final report, perhaps 8 months in the future, to monitor our progress and to point out to me and to other leaders if we are falling behind in the schedule for the accomplishment of our goals.

Q. Was a new summit mentioned, was a date for a new summit mentioned?

THE PRESIDENT. No, we had that in the original draft, but we decided to leave that out because it's so uncertain. I don't have any doubt that we all would like to have a summit meeting about once a year. But we thought rather than schedule it on a particular date, we at first thought we might just make it tentative and then we would try to define why we should have a summit in the future. And one said, "Well, if we fail in our purposes, we ought to get back together, or if the economy gets worse, we ought to get back together." Then we decided that that would be an indication of a crisis. So, we finally left out the date for convening another summit.

Q. What is your hope for the meeting with President al-Asad, tomorrow?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope that by the end of this month, after I will have met with the key leaders that are involved in the Mideast question--I started to say "crisis"--that I will better understand the areas of common agreement and be able to define the remaining areas of disagreement.

So far, most of the leaders have suggested that when this round of discussions is completed, that we might do our own analysis of what should be done and then go back to the leaders privately. And I've already asked Secretary Cy Vance to do that.

Following that second round of discussions with the Secretary of State, as we've outlined our hope for some agreement, then our country would decide whether or not to take a public position as to the boundaries of agreement or the hope for future progress.

All this is still conjectural. But I will complete my meeting. We will have close consultations following that, including a trip by the Secretary of State to the nations involved.

Q. Sir, what do you expect from tomorrow's Four-Power meeting? Are you going to take up the question of limiting arms sales, or any other big questions that haven't come up so far?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know yet. This is a meeting that's completely unstructured. I've never been to one before. But my understanding is that the primary discussion will be about Berlin. I guess if other leaders want to bring up some point, they will be free to do it.

I understand that no one attends except the leaders involved.

Q. Will that city always be divided? Is that Berlin's fate forever?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know how to answer that. As you know, the Quadripartite Agreement says that the city is not separated into two opposing political entities. We maintain, as you know, American, French, British, and German--West German patrols in Eastern Germany [East Berlin], and according to the agreement, the East Germans have access to Western Germany [West Berlin] as well.

Q. But that wall makes a mockery out of that.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it does. I think the wall is a very dramatic indication of the hunger for freedom among people who live in Eastern Germany. I don't know how to express any hope that it might be removed. Of course, we would like very much to see the wall torn down.

Thank you.

Q. Did you call your mother?

THE PRESIDENT. I'm going to.

Note: The President spoke at 8 p.m. upon his return to Winfield House.

Jimmy Carter, International Economic Summit Meeting Exchange With Reporters Following the Final Session of the Summit Meeting. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244130

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