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International Science and Technology Message to the Congress Reporting on U.S. Programs.

February 27, 1980

To the Congress of the United States:

This report responds to the requirement, embodied in Title V of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1979 (P.L. 95-426), that I report annually on the United States Government's international activities primarily involving science and technology. As a supplement to this report, the Department of State has prepared a detailed study that contains a more complete description and analysis of this Government's international scientific and technological activities; that study accompanies this report.

It is clear that science and technology play an increasingly important role in the realization of the foreign and domestic goals of our Nation. Recognizing this, my Administration has been giving increased attention to stimulating the appropriate application of our great strength in science and technology to international relationships and activities that can further our national goals. As I reported in my March 27, 1979, Message to the Congress on Science and Technology, four themes have shaped U.S. policy with regard to international activities in science and technology:

—the pursuit of new international initiatives that advance our own research and development objectives;

—the development and strengthening of scientific exchanges that bridge political, ideological and cultural divisions between countries;

—the formulation of programs and institutions to help developing countries use science and technology; and

—cooperation with other nations to manage technologies with global impact.


In support of these themes and objectives, a number of important initiatives have been taken during 1979:

—USSR. The United States and the Soviet Union work together under a framework of eleven separate agreements for cooperation in scientific and technical fields. However, my Administration has recently taken steps to demonstrate that the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan will have an adverse effect on all forms of cooperation including scientific exchanges. I have taken the deliberate decision to focus our restrictive measures against specific activities, not against the framework of the agreements themselves. Each individual activity planned under the eleven bilateral agreements is currently being reviewed to determine its appropriateness. Only those substantive exchanges which are of overriding scientific interest to the U.S. or which involve humanitarian concerns such as health or the environment will be continued under the present circumstances.

—China. In January 1979, I signed an agreement on science and technology cooperation with Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping of the People's Republic of China. Since that time our two countries have negotiated and signed thirteen protocols for cooperation in a broad variety of specific science and technology fields. These cooperative efforts are of great importance to the building of a strong and modern China, which is clearly in the interests of this country.

—Japan. A major step in further expanding the already extensive scientific cooperation between the U.S. and Japan was taken in May 1979 with the signing of a bilateral agreement for cooperative energy R&D projects, such as coal liquefaction, nuclear fusion, and geothermal and solar energy. More recently, I made a proposal to the Japanese for a complementary program of joint R&D in nonenergy areas of global importance such as space research, environmental protection, health and agriculture. Two preparatory meetings (September 1979 and February 1980) have been held and we have reached agreement on a number of specific R&D projects pending budgetary approval on both sides.

—Latin America and the Caribbean. Impressive progress has been made in our science and technology relations with Mexico. During my meeting with President Lopez Portillo in February 1979, a memorandum of understanding was signed inaugurating cooperation in a number of areas, including arid lands agriculture and energy R&D. S&T cooperation in this hemisphere was furthered by an October trip of my Science and Technology Adviser to a number of countries in South America and the Caribbean. Joint S&T activities are being developed with Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, the Andean Pact, and the Caribbean region as a result of intensive consultations with leading science officials in these countries and regions.

—ISTC. I established by Executive Order on October 1, 1979, the Institute for Scientific and Technological Cooperation as authorized by Congress in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1979. This Institute is designed to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to solve their development problems through scientific and technological innovation, to foster research on problems of development and to facilitate scientific and technological cooperation with developing countries. The Institute will also be a principal point of contact for science and technology development issues for regional and multilateral scientific .and technological organizations as well as for the U.S. official and private scientific communities. My objective is to provide a new and explicit focus on the scientific and technological resources that can be brought to bear on the difficult problems of development, and to raise the capacity of the developing world to apply expertly these scientific and technological resources to their own unique requirements. The unique structure and style of operation of the Institute will also allow for a broad range of cooperation with scientists and institutions with middle income countries. I believe this effort has great potential; it is a matter of high priority that the Institute be funded so that it can begin its new and challenging tasks.

—UN Conference on S&T for Development. The United Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development, held in Vienna in August 1979, sought to strengthen international cooperation in applying science and technology to problems of developing countries. By bringing together scientists and science officials from developing and developed countries, the Conference served to focus world attention on the importance of science and technology for development. The Conference agreed on a number of measures to coordinate and strengthen UN activities in science and technology, including the establishment of an Intergovernmental Committee for Science and Technology for Development. As a result of decisions taken by the Conference, I have proposed in my 1981 Budget a $15 million contribution to the newly established UN fund devoted to S&T for development.


My 1981 Budget has been sent to the Congress. In it, I have requested funds for international S&T activities necessary to meet our priority domestic and foreign policy needs.

It is clear that the Nation will benefit fully from the international use of our scientific and technological resources only if those in the Government responsible for planning and carrying out these programs have the knowledge and skills to understand both the opportunities and the risks inherent in any application of new knowledge. It is especially important that they be aware of the impact of technology on other societies and cultures. The Secretary of State has already taken steps to expand the capabilities of the Foreign Service of the United States in the scientific and technological aspects of diplomacy. This effort will be sustained and supplemented by joint training programs with domestic agencies and exchanges of personnel designed to create within the Executive Branch a cadre of officers skilled in international science and technology policy.


In addition to the tasks directly specified in Title V of P.L. 95-426, in order to make more effective the routine evaluation of international S&T .activities undertaken by the Government, I have directed the Secretary of State to take the following steps:

—To review, as necessary, international activities in science and technology in terms of U.S. foreign policy objectives, and to provide advice regarding foreign policy objectives for new agreements.

—To maintain a current information system covering major bilateral and multilateral activities primarily involving science and technology.

—To develop criteria for reviewing the costs and benefits of bilateral and multilateral S&T activities and to apply these criteria in reviewing the utility of these activities.

—To coordinate assessments of the overall balance of benefits prior to any decision regarding renewal, extension or termination of major bilateral and multilateral science and technology agreements. The Department of State shall provide the foreign policy input to these assessments.

—To provide continuous oversight of major international science and technology agreements and activities, and to encourage the conclusion of comprehensive government-to-government agreements, wherever appropriate, that set forth general guidelines for specific agency-to-agency implementing agreements.

—To be cognizant of the potential applications of R&D supported by the other agencies of government to the problems of developing countries. ISTC, when funded, should coordinate a thorough assessment in this area.


While we are often forced to attend to immediate crises, it is essential that we nurture our long-term scientific and technological relations with other countries. We must also sustain our efforts to deal with global problems such as economic development, resource conservation and management, environmental protection and the struggle against disease and hunger. Central to our future well-being is the intelligent application of our vast scientific and technological capabilities to deal with these problems. It is clear that our international science and technology activities, in addition to supporting this country's foreign policy objectives, provide a variety of benefits. At the same time, they enhance the world's stores of scientific and technological knowledge, affect worldwide welfare and prosperity, promote our foreign commercial relationships, and add a valuable dimension to our development assistance programs.


The White House,

February 27, 1980.

Jimmy Carter, International Science and Technology Message to the Congress Reporting on U.S. Programs. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250463

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