Remarks at the Signing of the Treaty on Outer Space, January 27, 1967

Secretary Rusk, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

This is an inspiring moment in the history of the human race.

We are taking the first firm step toward keeping outer space free forever from the implements of war.

It was more than 400 years ago when Martin Luther said:

“Cannons and firearms are cruel and damnable machines. I believe them to have been the direct suggestion of the devil. If Adam had seen in a vision the horrible instruments that his children were to invent, he would have died of grief.”

Well, I wonder what he would have thought of the far more terrible weapons that we have today.

We have never succeeded in freeing our planet from the implements of war. But if we cannot yet achieve this goal here on earth, we can at least keep the virus from spreading.

We can keep the ugly and wasteful weapons of mass destruction from contaminating space. And that is exactly what this treaty does.

This treaty means that the moon and our sister planets will serve only the purposes of peace and not of war.

It means that orbiting man-made satellites will remain free of nuclear weapons.

It means that astronaut and cosmonaut will meet someday on the surface of the moon as brothers and not as warriors for competing nationalities or ideologies.

It holds promise that the same wisdom and good will which gave us this space treaty will continue to guide us as we seek solutions to the many problems that we have here on this earth.

It is a hopeful and a very promising sign.

We are so pleased that we could be joined here today by the representatives of so many of the other nations of the world.

I now take great pleasure in presenting to you our distinguished Secretary of State—Mr. Dean Rusk.

Note: The President spoke at 5:15 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, and Chief Justice Earl Warren. In his remarks following the President's, Secretary Rusk reviewed the major steps taken since the Soviet Union launched its first Sputnik in 1957 in the quest for peace and security. "There is great satisfaction," he noted, "in being able to present this treaty within 10 years after the launching of that Sputnik." Arthur J. Goldberg, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, then spoke briefly. He commended the members of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and expressed his appreciation to the President "for initiating this effort on behalf of our country." Ambassador Goldberg also read a message from United Nations Secretary General U Thant. The Secretary General described the outer space treaty, together with the Antarctic treaty of 1959 and the nuclear test ban treaty of 1963 as "true landmarks in man's march towards international peace and security. I fervently hope," he said in conclusion, "that these achievements will shortly be followed by similar agreements on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and other steps towards international peace and security." The British Ambassador, Sir Patrick Dean, and the Ambassador from the Soviet Union, Anatoly F. Dobrynin, also spoke briefly. Stating that the treaty was an important step toward the creation of a world free from the fear of war, Sir Patrick added that its signature by the United States and the Soviet Union would "give fresh encouragement and new hope to the world." In signing the treaty on behalf of the Soviet Union Mr. Dobrynin stated: "We believe that the treaty . . . will be an important step in further development of cooperation and understanding among states and peoples, and will contribute to the settlement of other major international problems facing humanity here on this planet." The full text of the various remarks at the signing ceremony is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 3, P. 127). After signatures by Secretary Rusk and Ambassador Goldberg for the United States, Ambassador Dean for the United Kingdom, and Ambassador Dobrynin for the Soviet Union, the treaty was signed by the representatives of 57 other nations. Signing ceremonies were also held in London and Moscow. On February 7, 1967, the President transmitted the treaty to the Senate (see Item 38). It was favorably considered by the Senate on April 25, 1967. The text of the treaty is printed in Senate Executive D (90th Cong., 1st sess.). Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks at the Signing of the Treaty on Outer Space.," January 27, 1967. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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