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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Proposing the Establishment of a United States Disarmament Agency

June 29, 1961

Dear Mr.__________:

I am transmitting herewith, for consideration by the Congress, a draft of legislation to carry out the recommendation contained in my May twenty-fifth Message, for the establishment of a strengthened and enlarged disarmament agency to make an intensified effort to develop acceptable political and technical alternatives to the present arms race.

Today, ability of man to master his environment threatens to outpace his ability to control himself. The world is more and more interdependent, and the people of the earth can now look beyond this planet to a new age of discovery, but they have not yet been able to banish the primitive 'threat of war. The ingenuity that has made the weapons of war vastly more destructive should be applied to the development of a system of control of these weapons.

But peace cannot be brought about by concentrating solely on measures to control and eliminate weapons. It must also encompass measures to sustain and strengthen international institutions and the rule of law. A disarmament program must take into account the national security; our foreign policy; the relationships of this country to international peace-keeping agencies, including the United Nations; and our domestic economic and other policies. It should drive toward the creation of a peaceful world society in which disarmament, except for the forces needed to apply international sanctions, is the accepted condition of international life.

For the past five months, Mr. John J. McCloy, my adviser on disarmament matters, has been conducting, at my request, an extensive study of the governmental effort and organization necessary to give effect to our national purpose in this field. He has had available to him the results of searching studies by individual members and committees of the Congress, the agencies of Government principally concerned, national and international organizations and eminent private individuals. During the course of his study, Mr. McCloy has consulted closely with Secretary Rusk, Secretary McNamara, Chairman Seaborg and other high officials. All of these studies and consultations have inescapably pointed to the conclusion that a new effort, considerably larger than our present effort, in terms of size, range of skills and authority will be necessary. This can best be accomplished by the creation of a new United States agency.

Following Mr. McCloy's recommendations, I am therefore proposing that a new United States Disarmament Agency for World Peace and Security be established. Enactment of the proposed legislation will permit this agency to deal broadly with the whole range of disarmament matters, including research, policies, and programs.

The importance and broad scope of disarmament matters require continuing Presidential attention. The complex inter-relationships between disarmament activities, foreign affairs, and national security also require that close working-level coordination and cooperation be established between the new agency and the Departments of State and Defense, the Atomic Energy Commission, and other agencies.

The proposed legislation provides that the Director of the new agency function under the direction of the President and the Secretary of State. This arrangement will permit coordination of disarmament matters within the purview of the various agencies; it will give special recognition to the need for intermeshing disarmament policies and programs with the broad conduct of foreign affairs; and it will provide a focal point at the highest level of Government for the consideration of disarmament matters.

In the light of these unique relationships the Director, as the principal adviser to the President in the disarmament field, will have direct access to him but will, of course, notify the Secretary of State as to the occasion and substance of the advice he offers. In addition, the Director will report to the Secretary of State without going through intermediate authority, and he will act as the agent of the Secretary of State with authority under his direction, to act in his name. Also, I intend that he participate in all meetings of the National Security Council having to do with disarmament.

I am enclosing a letter from Mr. McCloy describing the legislation in more detail.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Mr. McCloy's letter of June 23 and the text of the draft bill are printed in the Congressional Record (vol. 107, June 29, 1961, p. 10855).

For the President's statement upon signing the Arms Control and Disarmament Act, see Item 288.

John F. Kennedy, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Proposing the Establishment of a United States Disarmament Agency Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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