Science and TechnologyScience and technology are central to the problems of national defense, to the vigor of our own and the world economy and to the improvement of the quality of life on this planet. They are basic tools in the effort to narrow the gap between the richer and the poorer nations.
Basic research is the source of the knowledge from which scientific and technological benefits flow to mankind. Research is one of mankind’s great adventures. Its rules are as unequivocal and uncompromising as the laws of nature. Research is a unique and universally understood medium of discourse among those who practice it.
It is settled U.S. policy to encourage international cooperation in basic science. I have requested additional funds for our basic science agency, the National Science Foundation, to enable it to intensify its international activities. The foundation already administers several bilateral programs of scientific cooperation (with Australia, Japan, Italy and the Republic of China). Others are beginning. Among these are our programs of cooperation with Romania and Yugoslavia, which are important fruits of the revitalized politicak relationship we now enjoy with those two countries.
Closely allied to basic research is our national policy on technology exchange. The United States’preeminence in both fields faces us with a policy question as to how far we should share the fruits of our research and technology. There are obvious security implications in many technological developments, for example in the nuclear and space fields.
One approach for serving this security interest is the “Maginot Line” concept, which attempts to restrict the transfer of expertise to other nations. It is based on the view that technological preeminence is a national asset to be guarded jealously from others. Another approach is to view our preeminence as an asset to be invested in building effective partnerships with other nations to create a world pattern of open sharing of scientific and technological knowledge.
Only the latter is a viable policy. For human knowledge is not truly subject to being hoarded. As I said in last year’s reports, Ďn an era when man possesses the power both to explore in heavens and desloate the earth, science and technology must be marshaled and shared in the cause of peaceful progress, whatever the political differences among nations.” It is only through the broadest possible exchange of information that the interests of mankind can be assured, and over the long run we stand to gain as much as any nation through such exchanges. For we, more than most, are able to absorb and make use of new knowledge. Obviously, there will be some areas where restrictions are essential. Our policy, however, is to keep those areas as circumscribed as possible, and to take the leadership in encouraging the exchange of scientific and technological information.
The space frontier.
Space is the clearest example of the necessity for international scientific cooperation and the benefits that accrue from it. The world communit has already determined and agreed that space is open to all and can be made the special province of none. Space is the new frontier of man, both a physical and an intellectual frontier.
Our leading role in space is not only a reflection of our scientific and technological capacity. It is equally a measure of an older American tradition, the compulsion to cross the next mountain chain. The pressurized space suit is, in a very real sense, today’s equivalent of the buckskin jacket and the buffalo robe. Apollo 14 is the latest packhorse, and its crew the most recent of a long line of American pioneers.
As mutual help and cooperation were essential to life on the American frontier, so it is on the frontier of space. It is with that sense that we approach the sharing of both the burdens and the fruits of our space activity.
Space is already a matter of broad international cooperation. We have some two hundred fifty agreements with seventy-four countries covering space cooperation.
And space has already been put to the service of man in the new global communications systems and in weather monitoring systems. But this is only a beginning. Space is the only area of which it can literally be said that the potential for cooperation is infinite.
We have opened virtually all of our NASA space projects to international participation. I have asked NASA to explore in the most positive way the possibilities for substantial participation by Western Europe, Japan, Canada and Australia in our post-Apollo programs. The result is uncertain, for there are very real difficulties to be solved. We will continue our efforts to meet these problems, for a successful international program of space exploration could set a precedent of profound importance.
I have also directed NASA to make every effort to expand our space cooperation with the Soviet Union. There has been progress. Together with Soviet scientists and engineers we have worked out a procedure for the development of compatible docking systems.
In January we reached a preliminary agreement with the Soviet Union which could serve to bring much broader cooperation between us in the space field. I have instructed NASA and the Department of State to pursue this possibility with the utmost seriousness.
A New Step in Nuclear Energy Cooperation.
In the field of peaceful nuclear energy, over the years there has developed a broad network of international relationships. This began with research cooperation between governments and now includes exchanges of information, fuel splly contracts and support of the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as sales of United States products and services.
As the demand for nuclear energy has increased, so has the demand for the enriched uranium to fuel power reactors. The United States supplies the fuel for many foreign programs, under safeguards and with adequate compensation. However, with the increased utilization of nuclear power, other countries with advanced programs understandably are reluctant to be totally dependent upon us, or upon anyone else, for enriched uranium to meet power requirements.
This critical issue and its significance for our policy on nonproliferationhave been under careful review. In our concern for safeguarding nuclear technology we cannot ignore the legitimate desires of our allies for a certain independence in their energy supplies, and our own intrinsic interest in multinational cooperation in this field.
Having carefully weighed the national security and other factors involved, we have undertaken consultations with the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy of the Congress concerning ways in which the United States might assist our allies to construct a multination uranium enrichment plant to help meet future world demands.
An International Center for Systems Analysis.
Our National Academy of Science is also actively working with the Soviet Union and other countries to establish a center for the application of systems analysis techniques to the complex problems of advanced societies. This international, nongovernmental institution would initially bring together scholars from some eight nations of East and West to apply the most sophisticated analytical tools available to the major problems of contemporary civilization.
Better Use of Technology in Foreign Assistance Activities.
No more severe task faces the developed world than facilitating the economic and social progress of the less developed nations. The role of science and technology can be crucial to success, and we need to organize our effort in this field more effectively.
My proposals to the Congress to reorganize our foreign assistance programs will, therefore, reflect the higher priority we intend to give to cooperation with the developing countries in the transfer tand application for technology. It will include legislation to permit the establishment of machinery specifically designed to work with recipient countries on their own needs for research, and technological training and development.
The problems - and the opportunities - created by science and technology dominate an increasing share of our international activity. The problems we can no longer ignore, and can solve only through international cooperation. The opportunities we are determined not to miss, and can realize only through international cooperation. Taken together, these challenges constitute the new dimension of our foreign policy and of international life. The greates importance attaches to our performance in this new dimension, for upon it rests much of the hope for a better future.