Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace”

U.S. #1070 includes a portion of Eisenhower’s speech around the border.

Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace”

On December 8, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his “Atoms for Peace” speech, introducing his goal of using nuclear power for peace.

Eight years earlier, World War II came to a close with the detonation of two atomic weapons over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. With the war concluded, America’s top scientists and leaders knew that nuclear weapons and energy would have a tremendous impact on the future. Connecticut Senator Brien McMahon (1903-1952) served as chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. McMahon also authored the McMahon Act for the control of atomic energy, which resulted in the establishment of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1946. The AEC directed the development and use of atomic energy for both military and civilian purposes.

U.S. #1394 – The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was created in 1957 as a direct result of Eisenhower’s speech.

In August 1953, the Russians detonated their first hydrogen bomb, causing concern in America. President Eisenhower wanted to make Americans aware of the risks and benefits of nuclear technology, hoping to slow the nuclear arms race.

On December 8, 1953, Eisenhower delivered a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, pledging that the U.S. would “devote its entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life.”

U.S. #2513 – Between 1957 and 1969, 22 people (including Eisenhower) received the Atoms for Peace Award.

Eisenhower proposed a program called Atoms for Peace, in which nations would donate atomic power to the United Nations, in order to find peaceful uses for it. The “Atoms for Peace” speech aimed to remove the fear of nuclear attack by showing alternate uses for the technology. He also proposed nations should “begin now and continue to make joint contributions from their stockpiles of normal uranium and fissionable materials to an International Atomic Energy Agency.”

Item #UN289-90 – U.N. stamp issued to mark the 20th anniversary of the IAEA.

The entire world was captivated by the proposal. Soviet ambassadors met with U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., and at a “Big Four” meeting the following January. As a result, the International Atomic Energy Agency was created.

The Atoms for Peace plan removed the veil of secrecy that had surrounded atomic development and opened research to civilians and countries that did not possess nuclear technology. The program also created regulations for the use of nuclear power and kept additional nations from developing weapons. It also led the way for treaties regulating nuclear weapons. Under the program, the U.S. exported highly enriched uranium to 30 countries to be used in reactors and for research.

Item #UNG71-72 – A treaty prohibiting the spread of nuclear weapons went into effect in 1970. The IAEA is responsible for inspections that make certain this treaty is not broken.

In 1962, under the control of the Department of Energy (DOE), the Nevada Test Site (now called the Nevada National Security Site) was also used to develop peaceful uses for nuclear energy. Since the 1992 nuclear test prohibition, the Department of Energy has used the site for testing hazardous chemical spills, emergency response training, conventional weapons testing, waste management, and environmental technology.

Read the full text of Eisenhower’s speech here. Or listen to it here.

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6 responses to "Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace”"

6 thoughts on “Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace””

  1. Although I don’t get to read everyday, Mystic’s “This Day in History” is a wonderful and educational way for a profit company to utilize the web for all customers and non-customer’s alike. Thank you Mystic and please keep this alive.

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  2. I don’t believe that the Dept. of Energy was around in 1962. My impression is that it was created when Nixon was President much later.

    Reply
  3. Another great moment in history – a moment only as it has been shattered several times.

    History, Oh History, What will our future bring?
    Our dreams become reality, and there’s the thing.
    Carefully laid plans for all
    Are destroyed by others with venom and gall
    History, Oh History when will we feel our next sting?

    Reply

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