60th Anniversary of “Atoms for Peace” Speech

60 years ago, on 8 December 1953, Dwight David Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, delivered the program speech “Atoms for Peace” during a session of the UN General Assembly.

This speech may be considered as an initial stage in the development of civil nuclear energy, technologies for peaceful use of atomic energy and activation of efficient discussion on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1957 within the UN was also inspired by Eisenhower’s speech.


Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America. Photo: www.npr.org

The main idea of the program delivered by the US President was to give all the interested states a possibility to use nuclear energy in peaceful, but not military purposes. Eisenhower mentioned advantages of peaceful use of atomic energy for the humanity: “…peaceful power from atomic energy is no dream of the future. The capability, already proved, is here today. […] if the entire body of world’s scientists and engineers had adequate amounts of fissionable material with which to test and develop their ideas, this capability would rapidly be transformed into universal, efficient and economic usage”.


Speech of Dwight David Eisenhower during the UN General Assembly meeting. Photo: vimeo.com

The US President described also the mechanism for implementation of the presented idea. He offered all the interested governments to start making joint contributions from their stockpiles of uranium and fissionable materials to the International Atomic Energy Agency. In Eisenhower’s opinion, such an agency should be set up under the aegis of the United Nations. According to the US President: “The atomic energy agency could be made responsible for the impounding, storage and protection of the contributed fissionable and other materials”. Eisenhower was sure that scientists would provide safe conditions under which such a bank of material could be made essentially immune to surprise seizure.

Eisenhower named the main responsibility of the Atomic Energy Agency, which was to devise methods whereby this fissionable material would be used for peaceful purposes. So, the speech included not only the idea of creating an atomic energy agency (IAEA). Eisenhower offered a control mechanism which would prevent the use of energy for military purposes. This offer was then transformed into the “IAEA Safeguards System”. According to para. 5 of Article 3 of the IAEA Statute, the Agency is obliged “…to establish and administer safeguards designed to ensure that special fissionable and other materials, services, equipment, facilities, and information made available by the Agency or at its request or under its supervision or control are not used in such a way as to further any military purpose; and to apply safeguards, at the request of the parties, to any bilateral or multilateral arrangement, or at the request of a State, to any of that State’s activities in the field of atomic energy”.


Postage “Atoms for Peace”. Photo: passionweiss.com

Website editorial staff 8/12/2013