202. Editorial Note

At his September 5, 1973, press conference, President Richard Nixon announced that he was sending Congress a second State of the Union message that would focus on energy issues as one of four main concerns facing the United States. If Congress did not act on the proposals he had laid out previously (see Document 177) he warned, the prospects for the future “could be very dangerous,” adding “we will be at the mercy of the producers of oil in the Mideast.” During the course of questioning by the press, Nixon pointed to two problems relating to oil: the Arab countries involved were “tied up” with the Arab-Israeli dispute, and the ascendancy of radical elements. The first could be handled through negotiations, the second could be influenced. Nixon stated:

“Oil without a market, as Mr. Mossadeq learned many, many years ago, does not do a country much good. We and Europe are the market, and I think that the responsible Arab leaders will see to it that if they continue to up the price, if they continue to expropriate, if they do expropriate without fair compensation, the inevitable result is that they will lose their markets, and other sources will be developed.”

The full text of Nixon’s press conference is in Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, pages 732–743. Mohammed Mossadeq was Prime Minister of Iran 1951–1953 until overthrown.

Three days later, on September 8, in remarks in the Briefing Room at the White House, President Nixon stated that while there was a [Page 550] short-term energy “problem” there was not an energy “crisis.” In fact, in the long run, he felt America’s prospects for adequate energy were “excellent,” provided Congress passed legislation on the Alaska pipeline, deepwater ports, the deregulation of gas, and strip mining. “Failing to act,” he stated, “means that we could have very serious problems, not just this year but, particularly in the years ahead.” He also mentioned the administrative actions of his administration, including the relaxation of emission standards, the development of the Elk Hills Reserves, “a sharp step-up in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” and increased research in the use of coal. In his concluding remarks, President Nixon stated, “The United States would prefer to continue to import oil, petroleum products from the Mideast, from Venezuela, from Canada, from other countries, but also we are keenly aware of the fact that no nation, and particularly no industrial nation, must be in a position of being at the mercy of any other nation by having its energy supplies suddenly cut off.”

The United States “must be in a position and must develop the capacity so that no other nation in the world that might, for some reason or another, take an unfriendly attitude toward the United States, has us, frankly, in a position where they can cut off our oil or, basically more important, cut off our energy.” The full text of Nixon’s remarks is ibid., pages 752–756.