WASHINGTON (Jan. 27)
President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a message to the 18-nation disarmament conference, said today that there were differences among members of the conference on the issue of Viet Nam but that these differences made common interest in curbing arms races all the more important. The conference opened today in Geneva.
President Johnson did not mention the Arab states specifically, but he said: “As we focus on nuclear arms, let us not forget that resources are being devoted to non-nuclear arms races all around the world. These resources might better be spent on feeding the hungry, healing the sick and teaching the uneducated. The cost of acquiring and maintaining one squadron of supersonic aircraft diverts resources that would build and maintain a university.”
“We suggest, therefore, that countries, on a regional basis, explore ways to limit competition among themselves for costly weapons often sought for reasons of illusory prestige,” the President stressed. “The initiative for arrangements of this kind should, of course, come from the regions concerned.”
“The interested countries should undertake not to acquire from any source, including production of their own as well as importation from others, military equipment which they proscribe. If such arrangements can be worked out and assurance can be given that they will be observed, the United States stands ready to respect them,” President Johnson emphasized.
The President stressed that the United States would seek “to assure that no non-nuclear country acquires its own nuclear weapons, gains control over nuclear weapons, achieves the power itself to fire nuclear weapons or receives assistance in manufacturing or testing nuclear weapons.” He emphasized that agreement must be sought to control nuclear materials or equipment for peaceful purposes to countries which do not have nuclear weapons.
He said that for those who desist from nuclear weapon development “let us strive to strengthen United Nations and other international security arrangements. Meanwhile, the nations that do not seek the nuclear path, can be sure that they will have our strong support against threats of nuclear blackmail.”