NEW YORK, Sept. 19, 1959 (UPI) - Russian Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev's utopian proposal "to turn swords into plowshares" within four years has been dismissed by veteran United Nations delegates as another astute propaganda device of world communism's No. 1 traveling salesman.
Propaganda it may be, but there were few who would deny the effectiveness of its potential impact on a war-weary world terrified by the prospect of a nuclear war of universal annihilation.
If the three-stage program for total disarmament is accepted, Khrushchev, in effect, pledges to open up the once hermetically sealed borders of the Soviet Union to free-for-all inspections for, as he said yesterday, "states will have nothing to conceal."
He would then be willing to accept President Eisenhower's open skies plan of 1955 for complete aerial inspection.
Although Communist Russia has scored impressive economic achievements since the end of the war, it suffers incomparably more than the United States from the crushing armament burden. Much less than America, Russia can produce both guns and butter. It would presumably gain relatively more than America from partial or total disarmament.
President Eisenhower was giving careful study to Khrushchev's plan in the quiet seclusion of his Pennsylvania farm.
Secretary of State Christian Herter expressed the general view of American officials and political leaders. "I think I can say that the United States will go as far on the path towards controlled disarmament as any other country.
"I stress the word 'controlled' because up to now the previous proposals have foundered on the Soviet Government's refusal to agree on effective control."
Other U.S. officials unofficially viewed the Khruschev plan as little else but an attractive pie in the sky. But they were willing to talk it over with the Soviets to find out how high in the sky it really was.
In New York, former President Truman said he thought the Khrushchev plan has merit - "any attempt to stop the cold war has merit." But he added the only reason there is no international disarmament already in effect is that the Russians have steadily refused to cooperate.
Truman said that when he was President, the U.S. proposed world control of atomic energy "and they (the Russians) vetoed it 265 times."
In most of the western world, statesmen and diplomats reacted with skepticism after a first look at the generalities in Khrushchev's U.N. speech. But they spoke cautiously pending Eisenhower's opportunity to question Khrushchev in detail next week.
British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd said in a guarded statement in London that there was need to work "on both plans" - Khrushchev's as well as the British.
In Chicago, twice-defeated Democratic presidential candidate Adlai E. Stevenson said the Khrushchev total disarmament plan "must be taken seriously" although "we have reason to be skeptical" about it. He said the Russian leader had proposed "just what we all have preached - a disarmed world."
Sen. John F. Kennedy (D., Mass) said Khrushchev had presented a "broad and superficially appealing program." But he said "its inadequacy can be judged by the fact that it apparently fails to provide competent and effective systems of international inspection which must be the prelude to any disarmament scheme."
Senate Democratic Whip Mike Mansfield (Mont.) said Khrushchev's proposal should not be rejected out of hand "but the details and fine print should be spelled out. ... " He recalled that the United States "did disarm after World War II and was caught short in Korea."