Giant U. S. Air, Naval Task Force Begins Mining Entrances to Haiphong,
Nixon Takes Stern Steps
By GAYLORD SHAW
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP)- President Nixon has coupled the mining of North Vietnamese
harbors with stern military steps intended to choke off Hanoi's war supplies-
moves which imperiled his Moscow summit and rekindled domestic polemics on the
In a nationwide broadcast Monday night, Nixon delivered what amounted to an
ultimatum for the Soviet Union to quit supplying arms and materiel to "the
international outlaws of North Vietnam" within three days or face destruction
of Soviet ships.
Besides risking collapse of summit talks with Soviet leaders due to begin in
two weeks, Nixon's sea quarantine of North Vietnam posed the potential for perhaps
the greatest confrontation of world superpowers since the Cuban missile crisis
a decade ago.
The chief executive combined disclosure of the toughest military moves ever
ordered by an American president in Vietnam with what some Washington officials
view as a softening of peace terms.
An offer to withdraw all U. S. forces from Vietnam within four months after
American prisoners of war are released and an internationally supervised ceasefire
In the hours following his address, Washington tensely awaited response from
Moscow, Peking and Hanoi to the mining, the intensified air and naval strikes
on military targets and the efforts to slice all North Vietnamese supply lines,
including railroads that carry most of the Soviet and Chinese military aid.
Domestic reaction came more quickly.
Demonstrations against Nixon's action were in progress within hours on at least
four of the nation's campuses.
Republicans in Congress generally hailed the President's moves as courageous
and necessary while Democrats generally denounced them as dangerous and foolish.
"A dangerous flirtation with World War III," said Sen. George McGovern
of South Dakota. Fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Edmund Muskie
said Nixon was "jeopardizing the major security interests of the United
Evans as the Preside solemnly told the nation of his decisions, U. S. airplanes
were sowing North Vietnamese ports- presumably including Haiphong- with mines
set to activate at 6 a. m. EDT Thursday.
The chief executive openly sought the support of the American public, saying
his sole purpose was "to end this war and to win the kind of peace that
And he openly sought too, Soviet understanding of his actions.
"Let us not slide back toward the dark shadows of a previous age,"
Nixon said after citing U. S. Soviet moves toward nuclear arms limitation and
Beaming his words directly at Moscow, where he is due to arrive May 22 for
talks with Soviet leaders, he added:
"We are on the threshold of a new relationship that can serve not only
the interests of our two countries but the cause of world peace. We are prepared
to build this relationship. The responsibility is yours if we fail to do so."
Soviet leaders apparently learned formally of Nixon's quarantine order when
Moscow's ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Dobrynin, was summoned to Kissinger's
office an hour before the speech. White House officials said other countries
were notified "through diplomatic processes."
Nixon said he is faced a "clear, hard choice among three courses of action:
immediate withdrawal of all American forces; continued attempts at negotiation;
or decisive military action to end the war."
He conceded many Americans favor withdrawal now and said "from a political
standpoint, this would be an easy choice to me to accept"- an oblique reference
to the fact that his Vietnam policies loom as a major issue in his re-election
But he said immediate withdrawal of all U. S. forces- slated to number 49,000
by July 1 under the plan Nixon announced 12 days ago- would mean turning 17
million South Vietnamese "over to Communist terror and tyranny," and
would leave no bargaining leverage to free American POWs.
The President said he would continue to seek a negotiated settlement. But he
complained bitterly that the North Vietnamese have flatly refused all public
and private approaches, responding with "bombastic rhetoric…insolence,
and insult" and an escalation of the war.
So, he continued, "by simply getting out we would only worsen the bloodshed.
By relying solely on negotiations we would give and intransigent enemy the time
he needs to press his aggression on the battlefield.
"There is only one way to stop the killing, and that is to keep the weapons
of war out of the hands of the international outlaws of North Vietnam."
As he ticked off the measures being implemented as he spoke, Nixon said any
president who failed to act decisively now "would have betrayed the trust
of his country and the cause of peace."
Within hours after his address, an armada of American aircraft were bombing rail
lines and highways throughout North Vietnam.
Earlier, even before Nixon met with his National Security Council to outline
his plans, U. S. warplanes had attacked targets near Hanoi, the first such raids
in three weeks.