WASHINGTON -- The United States and 11 other North Atlantic nations signed a military alliance against Communist aggression today and simultaneously put Russia on notice she has nothing to fear unless she starts a war.
President Truman himself nailed down that warning. He told the historic assemblage that "war is not inevitable" and that the Western democracies are uniting only to make sure that the unprovoked attacks of the past "shall not happen again."
After hearing President Truman hail it as a "shield against aggression," the Foreign Ministers stepped up one by one to put their names to the historic, 1,040-word pact.
The momentous pact known simply as the North Atlantic Treaty and which binds the United States for the first time in history to help defend Western Europe was signed in solemn but colorful ceremony in the blue and gold Government Auditorium.
It took only 11 minutes for the Foreign Ministers of the signatory nations to complete the far-reaching document.
They signed in alphabetical order, first Belgium, then Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy. Holland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
President Truman and Vice President Alben W. Barkley stood at Secretary of State Dean G. Ache-son's shoulder as he penned his name on the pact.
Batteries of television and mvi cameras recorded the event and scores of reporters told the world about it. In addition, the greatest national and shortwave radio hookup ever known beamed the ceremony throughout the, world.
Before the signing began each Foreign Minister and President Truman spoke. The substance of their words was that a new balance of power had come into being seeking peace, not war.
But they made it clear to Russia, without mentioning her by name, that a new cold war weapon had been forged and that it will be used if the Soviets encroach upon the territorial rights of the signatories.
The epochal ceremony was witnessed by more than 1,000 dignitaries, including diplomats, senators, congressmen and lesser officials.
Even as the treaty was being signed, Russian antagonism to It was again displayed when Moscow sent sharp protests to Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.
But Mr. Truman hurled a ringing reply to Russian charges that the pact is an "aggressive" conspiracy against her.
"That is absolutely untrue," he said. "We have no purpose of aggression against others."
He proclaimed the pact strictly defensive in nature and said:
"Twice in recent years, nations have felt the sickening blow of unprovoked aggression. Our peoples demand that these things shall not happen again. We are determined that they shall not happen again."
The treaty lays down the far-reaching principle that an attack on any pact member will be deemed an attack on all. It thus pools the might of 332,000,000 free men and women of the Western democracies against any threat from the Communist-dominated lands of Eastern Europe where 255,354,000 people live.
It also pledges the allies to work together to develop their individual and collective ability to resist attack in other words, to maintain their armed strength at a level that will discourage aggressors.
Under the clause the United States plans to back u the Euro pean Pact members with a vast arms shipment program probably more than $2,000,000,000 worth.
President Truman will send the program shortly. Meantime he expects to send the treaty to the Senate for ratification at once but final action is not expected before early summer.
The signing ceremonies began at 3 p.m. when Acheson marched to the small auditorium stage and spoke a few words. Then the Foreign Ministers spoke.
The ceremonies ended shortly be fore 5 p. m.
Like Mr. Truman, Acheson and the visiting Foreign Ministers also stressed the peace, not war, theme in their brief addresses. Summed up it was:
That the pact is solely intended to reassure and strengthen those who seek peace, and to forewarn and dissuade any who might be thinking of trying again where Hitler failed.
Within two weeks, Mr. Truman is expected to ask Congress for a huge arms program -- perhaps as much as $2,000,000,000 to help equip the pact members against future emergencies.
While all of the diplomats carefully avoided direct mention of Russia, their remarks were clearly meant to head off, if possible, Soviet retaliation to the pact which many diplomats expect.
The treaty shatters 150 years of American tradition against European military alliances and in effect extends this nation's defense frontiers to the Rhine, to the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas, and at one point. in the far northern wastes of Norway, to the very borders of Russia.
It leaves the U. S. Congress with the sole right to declare this country at war. but at the same lime solemnly pledges Americans to take whatever action they honestly "deem necessary" to restore peace and security if any North Atlantic nation is attacked.
Mr. Truman called it a "formal association for mutual self-protection" and said that it if it had existed in 1914 and 1939, "I believe it would have prevented the acts of aggression which led to two world wars.
He said the treaty "reaffirms" rather than weakens the pledge of the signers to support the United Nations and to seek peace with every country.
To Russian charges that the pact is an "aggressive conspiracy," Mr. Truman said that it "absolutely untrue" and a "slander" on American ideals and institutions.
"Twice in recent years, nations have felt the sickening blow of unprovoked aggression," he said. "Our peoples demand that these things shall not happen again.
"We are determined that they shall not happen again."
He said the democratic nations "still hope for" an understanding which will make it possible for the United Nations to do the job of enforcing peace which it was set up to do.
But Western efforts In that direction "have been blocked by one of the major powers," he said, and the democracies had no choice but to get together on a regional basis and create their own "shield against aggression."
He emphasized throughout that the alliance was formed strictly in compliance with the United Nations Charter.
Acheson, paraphrasing a Biblical passage, said the treaty will provide "refuge and strength," to those who seek peace.
"For those who set their feet up on the path of aggression," he said, "it Is a warning that if offenses must needs come, then woe unto them by whom the offense cometh."
British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin said the treaty "will bring a great feeling of relief to millions of people."
"At last democracy Is no longer a series of isolated units," he said. "It has become a cohesive organism determined to fulfill its great purpose." He added that the pact was born out of fear, and left no doubt that he meant fear of Russia.
Acheson opened the signing ceremony, In the marble-pillared auditorium, promptly at 3 p. m.
The signers, largest galaxy of foreign ministers ever assembled here, sat on a low stage at the front of the auditorium. They looked down on more than 1,000 lesser diplomats, senators, congressmen, government officials, and press and radio representatives who witnessed or recorded the epochal event.
Each of the foreign ministers spoke briefly before the signing began.
The alliance win actually take effect when it has been ratified by the seven charter members the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The next step under the pact is to set up a defense committee which will oversee joint preparedness measures, including the U.S. arms program.
The committee win be responsible to a council composed of the 12 foreign ministers themselves, who are charged with carrying out the treaty's terms.
President Truman Is expected to send the treaty to the Senate for ratification at once but there will be no swift action.
Chairman Tom Connally (D., Tex.), of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has announced that public hearings on the pact may extend into late May, with Senate floor action possible by June.