Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Signing of the Bill Extending the Arms Control and Disarmament Act

May 27, 1965

Ladies and gentlemen:

I want to thank you for your presence here today. I welcome you to the White House Rose Garden.

I want to discuss with you some sober truths of the age in which we live. A Full-scale nuclear war, if it should occur, might come and go as swiftly as one of our thundershowers. Yet it could wreak more destruction than a lifetime of earthquake and fire and blood. It could render life on earth intolerable for many, many years to come.

One modern warhead today carries enough firepower to make the nuclear blast of 20 years ago seem a very pale flicker by comparison. One jet bomber today carries weapons equal in explosive force to all--repeat--all the bombs that were dropped in World War II.

The fearsome engines of today are not mere symptoms of international tension. Weapons have themselves become a cause of fear and a cause of distrust among other nations. As weapons become more numerous and more deadly, fear and tension grow.

Well, these are not pleasant thoughts. But they are in my mind as I do my job each day. So when I say to you that I hope for peace, I am making no idle talk.

Today we have come here to mark a very small but a very significant step toward a durable peace. This act will extend for 3 years the life of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. As I sign this act, we can reflect with satisfaction upon the successes in arms control which have been achieved in the last 4 years.

The Nuclear Test Ban of 1963 is helping to keep the air free from nuclear contamination.

A United Nations resolution, supported by the United States and the Soviet Union, has put space off limits to the instruments of nuclear war.

A Washington to Moscow communications link established in 1963 is open at this very moment, and it is a symbol of our determination to prevent an unintended nuclear exchange.

In addition, we have taken steps to limit our own supplies of nonessential armaments. We recognize that the accumulation of obsolete weapons, the production of unnecessary weapons accelerate the arms race without contributing to overall security.

These actions are only part of the story. A less dramatic but an equally important aspect of arms control lies behind the steps that I just described--in patient, enduring work by the staff of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

This Government has repeatedly stated its conviction that steadily mounting nuclear stock does not--repeat--does not insure the security of any nation and that the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries threatens the security of all.

We believe that nuclear war must be avoided. And that is why we place such high hopes in the works of this Agency. That is why our prayers go with these able and patient men when they travel to the conference table.

Many times over many years I have been involved in efforts to moderate differences between men. I know that governments cannot easily be persuaded to cease their ancient rivalries or to lay aside their weapons or their arms, but I also know that the nations of mankind that are huddled together on a crowded globe have a common interest in survival.

I do believe it is possible through reason and through patient effort to translate that common interest into concrete proposals.

We meet here today to reaffirm those beliefs and to assert once again our faith that man can turn from violence in order to build a world in which the only conquest that nations seek are greater liberty, deeper understanding, and a fuller life for all people.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:20 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

As enacted, the bill (H.R. 2998) "to amend the Arms Control and Disarmament Act, as amended, in order to continue the authorization for appropriations" is Public Law 89-27 (79 Stat. 118).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Signing of the Bill Extending the Arms Control and Disarmament Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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