Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Bill Permitting Private Ownership of Nuclear Materials

August 26, 1964

Chairman Seaborg, ladies and gentlemen:

The measure before me now represents the most significant amendment to the atomic energy legislation that has been passed since 1954.

For the first time, it will allow private ownership in the United States of special nuclear materials--the materials used as fuels for nuclear plants.

We have made the most substantial progress in this Nation since 1954 in developing peaceful application of atomic energy particularly in the generation of electric power with nuclear reactors.

The new law recognizes that great advance and that progress. We are eliminating the statutory requirement that the Federal Government own all special nuclear material within the United States--a requirement that we feel is no longer appropriate for our growing civilian industry.

At the same time, we continue to insure the necessary control of nuclear material by the Government to meet present and future responsibilities abroad and here at home.

The legislation that we are acting upon this morning involves the very finest teamwork between the executive branch and the Congress. I am pleased that it enjoyed complete bipartisan support.

I am happy to see many of my friends from the Congress here this morning, and I especially wish that Senator Pastore, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, could be here, for he deserves a substantial share of the credit for our legislation. I trust that you may forgive him for performing another mission and understand his absence on this occasion.

I am very glad, however, that Congressman Holifield who performed diligently 4 years ago in a similar capacity is here with us this morning and others who have worked on this legislation are also present.

The new law will fully protect the national and international interests of the United States. It will meet the needs and the desires of private enterprise at the same time. By any measure, this legislation demonstrates the highest order of responsibility within our system. It is a compliment to all men and women of both parties who contributed to its passage.

I believe that this law represents still another major step in this Nation's efforts to achieve full use of the force of the atom for peaceful purposes to the benefit of all mankind. That is our objective and our prayer, and all of our efforts will be directed along those lines. I welcome you here for this signing ceremony, and this is a very eventful day for all of us.

Note: The President spoke shortly before noon in the Cabinet Room at the White House. His opening words referred to Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. Later he referred to Senator John O. Pastore of Rhode Island and Representative Chet Holifield of California.

As enacted, the bill (S. 3075) is Public Law 88-489 (78 Stat. 602).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Bill Permitting Private Ownership of Nuclear Materials Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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