Sen. Byrd Questions Wisdom of Nuclear Reactor to Egypt After White House Briefing

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D.W.Va.), said today he doubted the wisdom of giving nuclear reactors to other countries such as Egypt when the United States itself has not been able to develop them very well for peaceful use. He made his comments after Congressional leaders emerged from a two-hour meeting at the White House in which they were briefed on President Nixon’s Middle East trip by the President and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger.

Sen. William Proxmire (D.Wis.), meanwhile introduced legislation that would prohibit the U.S. government from shipping atomic power plants and nuclear fuel to Egypt and Israel without prior approval of both the Senate and House. “Some extraordinary questions have not been answered,” Proxmire said after introducing his measure today A similar move by Rep. Mario Biaggi (D.NY) was defeated by voice vote in the House yesterday.

“I wonder why we give reactors for peaceful uses when we ourselves haven’t been too successful with all our advance technology,” said Byrd, the Assistant Senate Majority Leader. “Thus far we have not done very well to develop nuclear power where it is needed. I wonder how those countries, certainly less advanced, can hope to develop energy.” President Nixon and Kissinger have stressed the nuclear reactors and technology being offered Egypt and Israel are only for the purpose of energy to increase economic development, Byrd noted. But he said he had reservations about the safeguards that would prevent the reactors from being used for military purposes although he was now a “little more confident” after the White House meeting. He said “some basic justification” was given that providing Egypt increased energy would move it toward peaceful relations with Israel.

NIXON SEES ‘PROFOUND CHANGE’ IN MIDEAST

On his return to the White House yesterday from his Middle East trip Nixon declared that a “profound, and I believe, lasting change has taken place” providing hope for peace where there was none and friendship for the United States “where there was hostility.” Speaking in front of the South Portico of the White House, Nixon also asserted that “while we did have the opportunity to meet new friends in Egypt and in Syria, we were able to reassure our old friends in Israel and in Saudi Arabia and in Jordan.”

Nixon said the tremendous reception for him in the Middle East capitals he visited was not a personal triumph but a demonstration that millions of people in that part of the world who have known nothing but “poverty and war for the last 30 years, desperately want peace and they want progress.” The President pledged that the United States will “play the crucial role in continuing the progress toward peace” but warned that it will be a long road since “waging peace is more difficult than waging war.” (By Joseph Polakoff.)

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