Trade With the Soviet Union Letter to Senator Henry Jackson Concerning the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974.
Dear Senator Jackson:
You wrote to ask my views about section 402 of the Trade Act of 1974, the Jackson-Vanik amendment.
From the beginning of my Presidency I emphasized our commitment as a nation to human rights as a fundamental tenet on which our foreign policy would be based. That commitment of mine is as deep and as important to me today as it was then.
You have always been a pioneer in the area of human rights and your leadership and support have been instrumental in our success. I am sure that the record will show that American words and actions in the last period have left their mark on the rest of the world. Because of our leadership the defense of human rights has its rightful place on the world agenda for everyone to see.
The Jackson-Vanik amendment, which you authored, represents an important statement of our nation's commitment to the free emigration of Soviet Jewry. As you well know, I, along with you, have been specifically concerned about Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union. The year before I became President, Jewish emigration was about 14,000. Last year it was up to 50,000—the highest level in more than 10 years. The lower rate this year in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is of great concern. We will continue to register our strong concern about this low level of emigration at the Review Conference on Security and Cooperation which will meet in Madrid next month. The Soviet Union has an obligation to honor its Helsinki commitment.
After the Afghanistan invasion, I took a number of steps, including the suspension of grain sales and the restriction of high-technology exports to the Soviet Union, to make quite clear to the Soviets that we cannot conduct business-as-usual with them while their troops are occupying another country.
With the Soviet troops still in Afghanistan and with unacceptable denials of free emigration, it is totally inappropriate to consider any changes to section 402 of the Trade Act of 1974, and I have no intention of doing so. Furthermore, I can assure you that the U.S. delegation under the leadership of Ambassadors Griffin Bell and Max Kampelman at the CSCE Conference in Madrid will take every opportunity to make clear to the Soviet Union that their record of emigration is a violation of the Helsinki accords.
I value your views on this subject and I look forward to working closely with you on these very vital issues.
Note: The text of the letter was released on October 27.
Jimmy Carter, Trade With the Soviet Union Letter to Senator Henry Jackson Concerning the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251710