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Documents on Germany, 1944-1959 : background documents on Germany, 1944-1959, and a chronology of political developments affecting Berlin, 1945-1956

Letter from President Eisenhower to Premier Bulganin, on Germany, European security, and disarmament, January 12, 1958,   pp. 228-236 PDF (3.9 MB)

Page 234

I propose that we should now discuss this matter. There is an in-
trinsic need of this in the interest of peace and justice, which seems to
me compelling.
(3) I now make, Mr. Chairman, a proposal to solve what I consider
to be the most important problem which faces the world today.
(a) I propose that we agree that outer space should be used only
for peaceful purposes. We face a decisive moment in history in rela-
tion to this matter. Both the Soviet Union and the United States are
now using outer space for the testing of missiles designed for military
purposes. The time to stop is now.
I recall to you that a decade ago, when the United States had a
monopoly of atomic weapons and of atomic experience, we offered to
renounce the making of atomic weapons and to make the use of atomic
energy an international asset for peaceful purposes only. If only
that offer had been accepted by the oviet Union, there would not now
be the danger from nuclear weapons which you describe.
The nations of the world face today another choice perhaps even
more momentous than that of 1948. That relates to the use of outer
space. Let us this time, and in time, make the right choice, the
peaceful choice.
There are about to be perfected and produced powerful new weap-
ons which, availing of outer space, will greatly increase the capacity
of the human race to destroy itself. If indeed it be the view of the
Soviet Union that we should not go on producing ever newer types
of weapons, can we not stop the production of such weapons which
would use or, more accurately, misuse, outer space, now for the first
time opening up as a field for man's exploration? Should not outer
space be dedicated to the peaceful uses of mankind and denied to the
purposes of war? That is my proposal.
(b) Let us also end the now unrestrained production of nuclear
weapons. This too would be responsive to your urging against "the
production of ever newer types of weapons". It is possible to assure
that newly produced fissionable material should not be used for
weapons purposes. Also existing weapons stocks can be steadily re-
duced by ascertainable transfers to peaceful purposes. Since our
existing weapons stocks are doubtless larger than yours we would
expect to make a greater transfer than you to peaceful purposes
stocks. I should be glad to receive your suggestion as to what you
consider to be an equitable ratio in this respect.
(c) I propose that, as part of such a program which will reliably
check and reverse the accumulation of nuclear weapons, we stop the
testing of nuclear weapons, not just for 2 or 3 years, but indefinitely.
So long as the accumulation of these, weapons continues unchecked,
it is- better that we should be able to devise weapons which will be
primarily significant from a military and defensive standpoint and
progressively eliminate weapons which could destroy, through fall-
out, vast segments of human life. But if the production is to be
stopped and the trend reversed, as I propose, then testing is no longer
so necessary.
(d) Let us at the same time take steps to begin the controlled and
progressive reduction  of conventional weapons and   military

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