President Carter says deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in the world implies "a possibility of their using atomic weapons for the first time risks world condemnation.
In an interview with U.S. News & World Report released yesterday, the President reiterated his views on the gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea, endorsed the role of his outspoken ambassador to the United Nations. Andrew Young, and said that he sees a "potential threat" to the Panama Canal if the United States does not act "in good faith" in negotiations over the canal's future control.
Carter discussed nuclear weapons in response to a question about the defense of South Korea in the absence of more than 30,000 U.S. troops there, planned for removal over four to five years.
"I think anyone recognizes that the first nation to use atomic weapons would be taking a very profound step toward the self-condemnation of the whole world," Carter said. "However, in areas where nuclear weapons are developed in the Western Pacific and also in Europe and to defend our own homeland, their very development implies a possibility of their use, if necessary.
"I think the combination of our overwhelming strategic cover with atomic weapons, plus the conventional military alliance that I've described to you is adequate, but I can't say that the two are necessarily tied together in my own plans."
Carter said that in Korea "there comes a time when continued presence of ground troops is not advisable, and that time has just arrived."
On other topics, Carter said:
There has been no threat by the Panamanian government during negotiations on a new canal treaty, but "I would really hate to see sabotage result from any lack of sensitivity on our part in the desire to work out this question in a peaceful way." (Panama is demanding more control over the canal in a treaty to replace one signed in 1903.)
The administration's views on Africa have been "well evoked by Ambassador Young and he works very closely with me and the Secretary of State," Cyrus R. Vance, Young has made "great strides in repairing the damage that has been done" in relations between developing nations and the United States.
If Israel should disavow its commitments to U.N. resolutions on peace in the Middle East. "That would be a very profound change and I think the consequences of it can't be accurately predicted. But my hope is and my belief is that this will not occur."