Senate Speech

October 13, 1965


Washington, D.C.

We were the first to discover and use the atom’s secrets; our nuclear capability is still the most powerful among the nations of the earth. The greatest power brings the greatest responsibility—a responsibility, in my judgment, to engage in a total effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, an effort that should pervade every aspect of our foreign policy. If we have a decision to make, we must ask ourselves: what effect will this have on the spread of nuclear weapons? If we have an asset with which to bargain, we must ask ourselves: in what way can this asset be used to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons? For prevention of nuclear spread is a matter of political action on a grand scale—an effort to turn the world community away from nuclear war, away from ultimate weapons as guarantors of security and prestige. We will need to reach an agreement on a treaty to prevent nuclear spread. We will need to make that treaty more than a scrap of paper—to persuade other nations that it is in their direct interest to accede to and abide by it—to abstain from nuclear weapons development . . . . We will need to extend the limited test-ban treaty to underground tests. And we will need to enlist the help of the United Nations, and all other nations—including Communist China—in the effort to prevent nuclear catastrophe.