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LBJ Addresses AP Luncheon in New York

Apr. 20, 1964 - President Johnson announced in New York City today that the U.S. and the Soviet Union were making cuts in the production of raw material for atomic weapons — plutonium and enriched uranium.

Departing from the text of a prepared speech before a luncheon of Associated Press executives, the President said: “Chairman Khrushchev is now releasing a statement in Moscow in which he will make definite commitments.”

The action, simultaneously announced in Moscow, was hailed as the first practical step toward ending the long, costly world arms race by mutual consent, without a formal treaty.

There was no provision for inspection to make sure the Soviets actually live up to their promise, however. And the effect of the cut on their total output, even if they make it, was not known. But the U.S., over a four-year period, will cut back production of enriched uranium by 40% and plutonium by 20%.

“This is not disarmament,” Johnson cautioned. “This is not a declaration of peace. But it is a hopeful sign, and it is a step forward which we welcome and which we can take in hope that the world may yet one day live without the fear of war.”

During his speech at the Waldorf, Johnson called on Republicans to keep discussions of foreign policy in the coming election campaign on a “responsible” level, “above partisan politics.”

As a sign of good faith on his part, he promised that all “major candidates for the office of President will be furnished briefings on foreign affairs by the CIA and the Departments of State and Defense.”

Johnson also revealed that he has sent new orders to South Vietnam to “help step up the fighting capacity of South Vietnamese forces.” He promised to keep U.S. troops there “at whatever level continued independence requires.”

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