President Carter, in the first interview of his administration, has announced extensive arms control proposals including an immediate halt to all atomic testing and substantial reduction in U.S. and Soviet nuclear might.
In an interview with the Associated Press and United Press International, Carter also called for reducing the sales of conventional weapons abroad, and said he has asked to be directly informed of all proposed arms sales before they are submitted for congressional review.
The statements in the interview, granted Sunday afternoon for release yesterday, were similar to proposals made by Carter during his election campaign. They took on new significance, however, as the publicly expressed policy of an incumbent President.
Carter's announced determination to reverse the supper power buildup of nuclear weapons and the worldwide buildup of conventional armaments could lead to major changes in U.S. military and diplomatic policy. If carried into effect through successful negotiations with the Soviet Union - which Carter projected in the interview - the proposals would affect postwar trends in the world in fundamental ways.
Asked by the interviewers about the call in his inaugural address for eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons, the Annapolis graduate and former naval office replied that that is both a hope and a goal. "I mean it very deeply," he said. A little later, he said, "If all the other world leaders have the same commitment that I do, then it would indeed be possible."
Carter confirmed reports that Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance will undertake a Middle East mission next month. The President said an Arab-Israeli conference in search of a settlement in the area is "very likely" in 1977.
He also confirmed that Rep. Andrew Young (D-Ga.), his choice as U.S. ambasador to the United Nations, will go tot Tanzania early next month to confer with African chiefs of state. Carter forecast that the "basic premise" spelled out by former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger on African policy will continue with "fairly minor" modifications. The interview was held before yesterday's announcement that the Rhodesian negotiations, set in motion by Kissinger, have collapsed.
At the State Department, Vance told reporters that discussions with the Soviet Union about strategic armaments will resume probably around the end of March, with a special negotiator named as U.S. representative. There are reports that Vance expects to visit Moscow in March to begin the negotiating process.
The arms control agenda outlined by Carter in the AP-UPI interview included:
Proceeding "quickly and aggressively" to a comprehensive ban on the testing of "all nuclear devices." Carter said without further explanation that the Soviet Union has sent "an encouraging message" but that the exact conditions on such a ban might not yet be known.
The 1963 U.S. Soviet limited test ban treaty permitted underground tests to official data released here the United States conducted 15 underground nuclear tests last year and the Soviet Union 10 underground explosions. France and Britain were also listed for one underground test each, and China for one underground and three atmospheric tests. Two recent U.S.-Soviet treaties, still before the Senate, would have allowed further testing on a restricted basis.
Fairly rapid ratification" of a SALT II agreement based on the tentative limitations announced by President Ford and Soviet Communist Party chief Leonid Brezhnev at Vladivostok in November, 1974. A final treaty was never concluded, partly because of a dispute over how to count U.S. cruise missiles and Soviet Backfire bombers in the strategic arms limit, but Carter said, "I would not let those two items stand in the way of some agreement."
Carter has previously criticized the Vladivostok limits as too high, and in the interview he said he would like to move very quickly, even before SALT II agreement, to "much more substantive reductions in atomic weapons as the first step to complete elimination in the future." If a U.S.-Soviet agreement on major weapons reductions can be reached, the next step would be to seek to bring in other nuclear nations such as France, Britain and China, he said.
The use of "all diplomatic means" available to constrain the spread of nuclear weapons to nations that do not have them now.
Carter said the United States would like to place the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel - an operation that can produce bomb material - under international control, and prohibit the sale of reprocessing facilities to nations that do not have them.
"Very tight restraints" on future commitments for the sale of U.S. conventional arms abroad, and multilateral negotiations with major arms suppliers to restrain the arms buildup. Carter said Vice President Mondale has been asked to explore such an agreement in talks with major arms exporters on his current trip. He said Vance will seek on his forth-coming trip to pursuade some of the nations in the Middle East, where the military buildup has been steepest, to hold down their arms purchases from the United Sales and other countries.
Carter said the first meeting of his National Security Council last Saturday discussed the need to reduce arms sales, and that the Secretary of State will be "much more hesitant" to recommend arms sales agreements in the future. He said he has asked that "all approvals of arms sales" be submitted to him directly before submission to Congress. Most sales have been handled at a lower level in the past.
Responding to reports that the Ford administration recommended a temporary halt in worldwide arms sales while new U.S. policy is being made. Carter said he does not contemplate such an "abrupt" action.
Speaking of his timetable to deal with major issues before his administration, Carter said that within a week or two "I will make my first report to the American people on what we have already achieved and the time schedule for additional proposals." He said "a comprehensive energy proposal" will be ready within 90 days and "a comprehensive welfare proposal" by May 1.
He said he will submit "very shortly" a proposal to launch the executive branch reorganization that he promised during the campaign.
Carter expressed confidence that he will be able to deal with Congress amicably through close consultation, but added that "on something where I am committed because of conviction or because of a commitment to the American people, I will be very strong and very aggressive and very adamant about pursuing my position."
He defended his economic stimulus program of about $15 billion in 1977, and said the jobs program - criticized organized labor as too small - is "the maximum and the optimum which can be effectively administered now.
Asked about criticism of his appointments, Carter said he feels "quite at ease about the percentage of blacks" named to senior positions so far, said he is "not completely satisfied" in the recruitment of women.
The new President, who met his interviewers before a glowing fire in the Oval Office, spoke with some reverence about the White House. It is "really awe inspiring" to use a writing desk designed and used by Thomas Jefferson and "a very sobering . . . very gratifying experience" to go into the Lincoln bedroom where the Emancipation Proclamation was signed or the treaty room where the Spanish-American was ended, he said.
"I look forward to seeing you all. I want to stay close to you." Carter said in conclusion to his interviewers.