The Changing Landscape of "Atoms for Peace"

Fifty years ago this December, US President Dwight Eisenhower called for both the international control and promotion of atomic energy "to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind". His historic "atoms for peace" proposal to the United Nations in December 1953 led to the IAEA's creation four years later.

This week, the United States and other countries meeting at the IAEA General Conference in Vienna reaffirmed support for peaceful nuclear uses and the IAEA's role, now facing new challenges in a new century. In its December edition, the IAEA Bulletin, the Agency's magazine, will take a closer look at the atoms for peace concept's legacy and future.

"Much has changed since that time," said IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei in his statement to the Conference. "I believe it is appropriate for us to take stock of our successes and failures - and to resolve to take whatever actions are required, including new ways of thinking and unconventional approaches, to ensure that nuclear energy remains a source of hope and prosperity for humanity, and not a tool for self-destruction."

United States: "The Atoms for Peace initiative established the principles that all nations must work to stem nuclear proliferation and that all responsible nations should enjoy the peaceful benefits of nuclear power and technology under sound non-proliferation conditions.Since 1957, the IAEA has been the center of international efforts to turn these principles into practice. Though the world has changed, and the roles of IAEA Member States have changed with it, the ideas of non-proliferation and peaceful nuclear power remain unchanged.

"The work of preventing nuclear proliferation has taken on a sense of great urgency. Today, as some States are seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, we must uphold our great responsibility to ensure full compliance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. With cooperation and strong leadership, we can combat the threat of nuclear proliferation and advance safety and security for people throughout the world." -- US President George Bush, in a message to the General Conference delivered by US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.

France: "The Atoms for Peace initiative remains as important as ever - for the use of energy resources and the sustainable development of the world's people. The IAEA, through its programmes and mission, has contributed greatly to the success of these objectives for global security, and allowed many countries to benefit from peaceful nuclear applications." -- Mr. Alain Bugat, General Administrator, Atomic Energy Commission, France, which produces nearly 80% of all its electricity from nuclear power.

Japan: "Japan is the only country to have suffered nuclear devastation, and...firmly adheres to the long-standing policy that we shall not possess or produce nuclear weapons, nor permit the introduction of such weapons in Japan....This policy will not change.

"The peaceful, appropriate use of nuclear energy will greatly contribute to the welfare of mankind and to social and economic development worldwide. It will also minimize the burden on the environment. Therefore, I believe that the nuclear energy option is of vital importance for mankind. Under circumstances in which challenges to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and IAEA safeguards have surfaced, the IAEA's activities to strengthen and promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and non-proliferation are all the more important and noteworthy now." -- Mr. Hiroyuki Hosoda, Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, Japan.

European Union: "The IAEA's indispensable role, as the competent authority for the verification of compliance with safeguards agreements covering the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, has proven to be worthy of the trust of the international community. At the same time, the Agency plays an essential role in promoting the safe usage of nuclear technology for peaceful applications in those Member States which use that technology. The EU and its acceding States reiterate their full support to the Agency and their commitment for the realization of its statutory functions." -- Mr. Roberto Antonione, Deputy Foreign Minister of Italy, on behalf of the European Union.

Russian Federation: "US President Eisenhower came up with a proposal to establish a special international agency to deal with the peaceful use of atomic energy and play an important role..it became the starting point for creating the IAEA... It is necessary to note the ever-growing role and importance of this international organization in ensuring an international regime of nuclear weapons non-proliferation, in rendering assistance to Member States to gain the benefits of peaceful uses of the atom's energy, and for the safe development of nuclear power.

"We are pretty far away from the end of the Cold War period; however, many issues of peace strengthening and strategic stability are still pending decisions. Unfortunately new risks and challenges have emerged in addition to existing ones. Today we have to address the situation, when mass destruction weapons, relevant materials and technologies can be obtained by international terrorists, as a reality. We are convinced that both existing and new challenges can be met through active cooperative efforts of all countries based on international law as well as adherence to and strengthening of the international treaty regime." -- Mr. A. Yu. Rumyantsev, Minister of Atomic Energy, Russian Federation, who noted that in 2004 the world will mark the 50th anniversary of Russia's first nuclear power plant at an IAEA international conference in Obninsk.

Republic of Korea: "During the past fifty years, we, mankind, have obtained electricity, which is indispensable in human life, from nuclear technology. Now, I believe that, for the next fifty years, nuclear science and technology will surely bring greater prosperity for future generations, enhancing their quality of life. "Atoms for the Next Generation" should be our common objective of the next fifty years. -- Dr. Ho Koon Park, Minister of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea.

Ethiopia: "Our cooperation with the IAEA is a real strategic partnership to fight against poverty through supporting sustainable socio-economic development....The catalytic role of the Agency in transferring nuclear technologies for peaceful application in Ethiopia has enabled the country to build up appreciable capabilities." -- Mr. Mulugeta Amha, Commissioner of the Science and Technology Commission, Ethiopia, who singled out peaceful nuclear applications to combat the devastating tsetse fly, manage water resources, and improve cancer treatment, among other areas.

Guatemala: "Guatemala has an indispensable ally on it development path: the IAEA. Our exclusive interest is the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies for helping people... Thanks to national and regional projects, Guatemala has strengthened its institutional capabilities and human resources and applied nuclear technologies to solve problems of health, agriculture, industry, energy, and the environment." -- Mr. Raul Arcila Serrano, Minister of Energy and Mines, Guatemala.

China: "With 50 years of experience and continuous technological improvement, nuclear power has been acknowledged as a clean, safe, and economic energy source, and has been playing an important role in the energy mix around the world. China, too, is witnessing stable development of nuclear power... to meet the demands on power in the process of economic development up to 2020...

"China, as a developing country, has gained much technological assistance from the Agency in nuclear power, safety, and nuclear applications. Such assistance positively promoted the country's rapid development of nuclear power and technology...We are convinced that the Agency will yield greater achievements through joint efforts, as long as it follows the principles of the Statute and keeps balanced development of its two objectives, the promotion of peaceful nuclear uses and prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation."

Last update: 11 November 2014