25. Editorial Note
In luncheon remarks to the Associated Press in New York on April 20, 1964, President Johnson declared: “I have ordered a further substantial reduction in our production of enriched uranium to be carried out over a 4-year period. When added to previous reductions, this will mean an overall decrease in the production of plutonium by 20 percent, and of enriched uranium by 40 percent.” He also mentioned that in reaching this decision, he had been in close consultation with Prime Minister Douglas-Home and Chairman Khrushchev, and the latter was releasing a simultaneous announcement in Moscow of Soviet reductions in U-235 production. Text of the President’s speech is in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-64, pages 493-500. For text of Khrushchev’s statement, see Documents on Disarmament, 1964, pages 166-168.
Regarding concerns by Seaborg, Foster, and McGeorge Bundy on the failure of Khrushchev to respond in a timely manner to the President’s March 9 message, which proposed a joint announcement of cutbacks (Document 18), and discussions about the timing and content of the President’s April 20 announcement, see Seaborg, Journal, Volume 8, pages 247-248, and 307.
On April 20, the Atomic Energy Commission issued a press release providing further details on the cutback. On the same day the White House issued Seaborg’s February 13 letter to the President, initially recommending the cutback, and a letter from Seaborg and McNamara to the President, April 16, reviewing the status of their joint progress on the implementation of the limited test ban treaty safeguards earlier recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Kennedy. The AEC [Page 54] press release, Seaborg’s February 13 letter, and the Seaborg-McNamara April 16 letter are reproduced ibid., pages 291-293, and 308-310. The text of the Seaborg-McNamara letter, with an additional White House explanatory statement, is also printed in Documents on Disarmament, 1964, pages 162-164.
At the 528th meeting of the National Security Council on April 22, President Johnson asked about congressional and foreign reactions to his announcement of the cutback, and Seaborg and McNamara reported that it had been generally well received in Congress, and Carl Rowan reported that the world reaction “had been generally good, and that the overall tendency was to reflect credit on President Johnson. He said that the Indians liked the action; the Chinese stated that the Soviet Union had been taken in by the United States and that the action indicated that the United States was siding with Khrushchev in the Sino-Soviet dispute; the French indicated that the action was rather unsatisfactory.” (Seaborg, Journal, Volume 8, pages 329-330) Another account of the NSC meeting is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Vol. 1, Tab 9, Box 1.
NSC Action No. 2484, April 22, noted this NSC discussion. (Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 70 D 265, NSC Meeting—April 22, 1964)