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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Urging Extension of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

January 24, 1968

Dear Mr. President: (Dear Mr. Speaker:)

In August 1965, I said: "President Eisenhower and President Kennedy sought, as I seek now, the pathway to a world in which serenity may one day endure. There is no sane description of a nuclear war. There is only the blinding light of man's failure to reason with his fellow man, and then silence."

Now as then arms control is the most urgent business of our time.

If men can join together with their neighbors to harness the power of nuclear energy for peaceful progress, they can transform the world. If not, they may well destroy the world.

This is the ultimate test of our century. On our response rests the very survival of this nation and the fate of every living creature on this planet.

The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency speaks for the United States in this critical area.

I urge the Congress to extend its life for three yearn and to authorize the necessary appropriations.

Just over five years ago the world looked over the brink of nuclear holocaust. The Cuban missile crisis brought home to every man and woman the unspeakable personal horror of nuclear war. It posed the problem, not in terms of megatons and megadeaths, but in terms of a man's home destroyed and his family wiped off the face of the earth.

One year later, the world took the first great step toward nuclear sanity--the Limited Test Ban Treaty.

From that treaty was born a common spirit and a common trust. National agendas were revised. Priorities were rearranged. Nations around the world joined in the quest for freedom from nuclear terror.

The United Nations passed a resolution against bombs in orbit. The United States and the Soviet Union installed a "hot line" between Washington and Moscow which has already been used to protect the peace. Last year a new treaty went into effect to preserve outer space for the works of peace.

The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency played a central role in all these important advances. Now the energy and perseverance of Director William Foster and his colleagues have brought us close to the next great step forward: a treaty banning the spread of nuclear weapons.

The United States and the Soviet Union have agreed to a complete draft Non-Proliferation Treaty and submitted it to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee in Geneva for consideration by other nations. This draft already reflects many of the interests and views of the nations which do not now have nuclear weapons. We believe such a treaty represents the most constructive way to avoid the terrible dangers and the criminal waste which all men recognize would flow from the further spread of nuclear weapons.

For at least twenty-five years, this treaty would:

--Prohibit any nuclear weapon state from transferring to any recipient, either directly or indirectly, any nuclear explosive device or the control of any such device;

--Prohibit any nuclear weapon state from helping non-nuclear weapon nations to develop their own nuclear weapons;

--Prohibit any non-nuclear weapon state from receiving nuclear weapons and from manufacturing its own weapons;

--Provide for verification that no nuclear materials are diverted by non-nuclear weapon states to produce explosive devices;

--Encourage cooperation between nuclear and non-nuclear nations to insure that all will benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

This treaty will not end tensions between nations nor will it eliminate the shadow of nuclear war which now menaces all mankind. But it will reduce the chances of nuclear disaster arising from local disputes.

It will avoid the tragic waste of resources on nuclear weapon technology by countries whose first and overriding concern must be economic growth and social progress.

And it will, we hope, bring world-wide acceptance of nuclear safeguards inspection as the basic protection which every nation must afford itself and its neighbors.

This treaty looks to the day when a final answer to the nuclear weapons problem will be possible. It does not limit the right or capacity of any present nuclear power to produce nuclear weapons. It does call for further negotiations to end the nuclear arms race and to move down the road to general and complete disarmament.

The lesson of the nuclear era is that this most sacred of human hopes will not be realized through intimidation of one nation by another nor by a single stroke of diplomacy. It will follow months and years of steady, patient effort. It will come step by step as men grow in wisdom and nations grow in responsibility.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty is not a creation of the United States. It is not a creation of the United States and the Soviet Union. It is the creation of all nations, large and small, who share the knowledge and the determination that man can and must and will control these cosmic forces he has unleashed.

When this Treaty comes into force, it will be for all the world the brightest light at the end of the runnel since 1945.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Hubert H. Humphrey, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

An act amending the Arms Control and Disarmament Act to extend the authorization for appropriations through fiscal year 1970 was approved by the President on May 23, 1968 (Public Law 90-314, 82 Stat. 129).

The quoted text at the beginning of the letter is from the President's statement on the draft treaty on nuclear weapons of August 17, 1965 (see 1965 volume, this series, Book II, Item 430).
See also Items 308, 349, 378.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Urging Extension of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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