President Nixon issued a blunt warning to Hanoi that United States bombers would smash North Vietnamese missile sites in retaliation to further attacks on American reconnaissance flights.
SV Nixon arriving and onto platform.
SV Nixon stands at microphone.
SV Nixon answers questions.
TRANSCRIPT: QUESTION: "Mr. President, a question about Vietnam. Our recent air strikes have raised speculation that our policy of not bombing North Vietnam may be undergoing a thorough change. What is our policy? Also, despite the rejection by the Saigon government and the Viet Cong, do you plan to propose a unilateral ceasefire from Christmas through Tet in a bid for peace?"
SEQ. 3: NIXON: "Let me answer the second part of the question first. We are prepared to have ceasefires on a limited basis over the holiday season. As you know, the North Vietnamese have turned down any extended ceasefire over the holiday season out of hand. We of course could not have any extended ceasefire unilaterally because that would be very dangerous for our forces. If it's a brief ceasefire we will do it. If it's extended we will not. With regard to the second part of your question, the bombing of North Vietnam, you may recall that a few weeks ago these was bombing of installations in North Vietnam after the North Vietnamese had fired on some of our unarmed reconnaissance planes. There has been, I note, some speculation in the press and also some charges from North Vietnam that there is no understanding that reconnaissance planes are to fly over North Vietnam since the bombing halt was announced. I want to be very sure that the understanding is clear. First, President Johnson said there was such an understanding at the time of the bombing halt. Secretary Clifford did, and Ambassador Vance did. But if there is any misunderstanding I want to indicate understanding of this President with regard to the flying reconnaissance planes over North Vietnam. I must insist that there be continued reconnaissance over North Vietnam, because, as we are withdrawing our forces, I have to see whether or not there is a chance of strike against those forces that remain, and we have to watch for the build-up. If our planes are fired upon, I not only order that they return the fire, but I will order that the missile site be destroyed and the complex around that site which supports it also be destroyed by bombing. That is my understanding."
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Background: President Nixon issued a blunt warning to Hanoi that United States bombers would smash North Vietnamese missile sites in retaliation to further attacks on American reconnaissance flights. The President was speaking in Washington yesterday (Thursday) at his first televised news conference for nearly five months.
Asked about the possibility of a Christmas truce in the fighting, President Nixon offered the prospect of short-duration, limited ceasefire. But he firmly rejected the idea of any extended, one-sided truce by the United States: