Atoms for Peace


Postcard - President Eisenhower addressing the General Assembly, 8 December 1953In January 1946, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution which established the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC). The remit of the UNAEC was to make proposals for the elimination of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under international control. Further plans and discussions failed due to radical differences between the United States and the Soviet Union over how to proceed.


The issue of international atomic energy control was revisited following President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace speech to the General Assembly on 8 December 1953. It was stressed that the new proposal was not a disarmament plan, but a bold initiative to open the benefits of atomic energy to the world community. The main features of the proposal were to:

• encourage a global study of the most beneficial uses of atomic energy for peaceful purposes;

• foster the view that the spread of nuclear weapons could be contained more appropriately by international cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy under an international safeguards system; and

• reduce the destructive capacity of the existing nuclear weapon stockpiles and promote positive dialogue on the central issues confronting human kind.


Atoms for Peace became a US programme that had both a bilateral and a multilateral dimension. Between 1954 and 1962, when Atoms for Peace was officially terminated, the United States initiated several bilateral technical assistance programmes involving research reactors, nuclear fuels and equipment.


International negotiation on implementing the Atoms for Peace proposal began formally after the 9th UN General Assembly, once the United States had allayed the Soviet Union’s concerns about the level of international control envisaged over national nuclear installations.


These negotiations culminated in a Conference on the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the name given to the new international organization, held at UN Headquarters in New York during September - October 1956. Following agreement at this Conference on the IAEA Statute, the Agency was established on 29 July 1957.





The speech by president Eisenhower on the website of IAEA.





Union of Soviet Socialist Republics           15 August 1962









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last revised: 17 January 2011