The United States Secretary of Defence, Mr. James Schlesinger, acknowledged there was a slight risk?
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GV Schlesinger on rostrum as press look on. (2 shots)
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SCHLESINGER: "I think there has been a hope in many quarters that the Moscow discussions might lead to a permanent and comprehensive agreement. I do not believe there is any likelihood of that being achieved in Moscow. To the extent that is regarded as the mark of success, I think that er...we will...that is not a result that is likely to be achieved."
"The assistance in this area is not wholly without risk, of the type which you describe. However, I think that is a relatively slight risk. The safeguards give very high confidence, I believe, of a major diversion of nuclear materials from power reactors into other areas."
"President Nixon is a visceral, instinctive patriot, and his entire history bears witness to that instinctive patriotism, and that er...he's not changed in that regard. That, as I observed earlier one should wait for the results of this meeting before one leaps to any conclusions."
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Background: The United States Secretary of Defence, Mr. James Schlesinger, acknowledged there was a slight risk that Egypt might use American-supplied atomic reactors and fuels to develop nuclear weapons, when he spoke at a news conference in Washington on Monday (17 June). He was referring to the Agreement between the US and Egypt announced last week during President Nixon's visit to Cairo.
The announcement stated that the US Government had agreed to supply Egypt with nuclear reactors and fuel for peaceful electric power production. Mr. Schlesinger pointed out that there had never been a case of a country which had received nuclear fuel from the United States which had then diverted its use to weapon production. He said he had a high degree of confidence that any significant diversion over a period of time could be detected by the United States.
When questioned about President Nixon's forthcoming visit to the Soviet Union, the Defence Secretary said there was considerable likelihood of the two countries signing an underground nuclear test agreement. But he said that an underground test limitation treaty might have disadvantages for the United States, which had smaller missiles and depended more on improvements in its nuclear weapons than the Soviet Union.